Some facts about painting trees
Sharon Teal Coray
To paint a tree you must first know that tree. You need to know how they move, how they grow and be conscious that they are living things that are ever changing.
They are highly organized entities. No trees are alike. They seldom encroach upon the freedom of another tree. The tree seems to have the ability to know where to grow next to another tree. Its branches are closely connected with the branches of the nearest tree.
If you want to paint trees you need to really study them and I have found that drawing them helps me to understand the way each tree grows and what is the differences in character between a peach tree and a willow tree.
All trees have a trunk that begins at ground level, this trunk gradually moves upward to the top of the crown. The roots below the ground anchor the tree. You need to be aware of how the branches grow; the branches are constantly tapering as they grow upward. One must know how the smaller branches leave the trunk; they get smaller and turn into twigs and finally tendrils. This constant tapering gives the tree a beautiful flow.
A slow growing tree has a straight trunk as apposed to a fast growing tree that sometimes has a hooked or gnarled trunk. Think about it, an oak tree is gnarled and a willow tree is an elegant flowing tree.
Every tree has a character of its own; their trunks are made up of many colors from rust, brown, gray, green to violet. The color of each tree really depends on the light that is on it.
I have seen many artists paint them just brown, but they do have a lot of colors that you can see if you just look at them. You have to know how the light will affect them and where they are in your landscape also will determine the color of each tree.
After studying the trunk and branches you need to look at the masses of foliage. The main branches will split into a few simple masses. To completely understand this and the significance of it will enable an artist to hold back from painting a lot of useless leaves. We don’t want to paint a tree that shows every leaf! The ability to capture the masses of a tree before looking just at the leaves is the first step of how to paint a tree.
One interesting thing I have observed is that an amature artist often paints the sky holes in a tree as light as the sky behind it. Sky holes are dividing spaces.This ends up looking like some light spots have been pasted on top of the tree. To remedy this you have to understand that the light coming through the sky holes will change with the size of the holes. The smaller the sky hole the darker the sky will appear. This is called diffraction.
Remember that each and every tree you are going to paint will usually have four or five main branches and four or five main sky holes. All branches that come forward are going to be darker than those going away from the viewer. The ones coming forward will show their underside, which is their shadow, and the ones going back will show their top lighted planes.
So how do you paint a tree?
By studying them and completely understanding them just like any other subject, you need to know all there is about something before you try to paint it!
Study the texture of every tree trunk !
Graceful White Birch
The branches that go away from the viewer are light and the ones that are coming forward are in shadow.
Good example of "Massing" you don't see individule leaves but masses of leaves.
Don't assume that all trees are just brown, you will see many colors in bark if you look!