Saturday, December 13, 2014

Painting recognizeable trees

After a very dry article last week, this week's blog will be more practical. Many of us paint landscapes. Trees often provide the greatest clues as to what area of the world the landscapes are from. Today, a bit about the shapes of some trees.

Look at the silhouette and the general shape of a tree. For example, the shape of an oak should not be confused with a fir or weeping willow or a Cyprus cedar.  Painting trees that look like green lollipops on trees is not right. That practice should come to an end. But first you need to start seeing trees instead of just looking at them.

The 'secret' to painting believable trees is an understanding of the underlying structure of trees complemented by observation of different species. One of the fundamentals to successfully painting realistic trees is learning to recognize the characteristic shapes of different species. Look at the overall appearance of the tree and identify the overall shape of the tree. Is it shaped like a sphere, umbrella, cone, or tube, or is it simply irregular? Is it short or tall, fat or thin, straight or spread irregularly? Do the branches point upwards or downwards? Are the leaves dense or sparse? Has it spread naturally, has got broken branches, or has a gardener pruned it?      

And remember to look at the tree's root system. Trees don't just stick up out of the ground
  • Taper the width of the trunk from bottom to top, as well as branches and twigs.
  • For more character, paint trunks sideways in small strokes rather from top to bottom in one long stroke.
  • Trees in dense woodland tend to be vertical; lone trees may be angled due to wind.
  • Branches aren't straight, aren't the same width throughout, and don't grow parallel to each other.
  • Avoid putting branches opposite each other on a tree trunk; trees aren't symmetrical unless they've been pruned that way.
  • Make branches cross over each other to create depth. Add appropriate shadows.
  • Leave gaps in the foliage and show branches in the gaps
Check out these various trees (photo from unknown source on Pinterest):
Various trees painted in watercolour

 Have a great week.


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