Once when I was a teenager, I painted three dark, angry trees. Mother frowned, “But that’s not the nature of trees.” She was right. My teenage rage had painted my own fury. Rather, trees are pleasant, gentle life forces who need occasional hugs.
Since then, I have sought out trees’ positive nature. I often capture them at their most dramatic when they dance upon the wind and gesture toward the sunshine. I’ve included a few of my recent tree paintings in this blog, all of who were tolerant of me as I made them sit for their portraits.
On Painting Trees
Trees come easily to me as painting subjects, I think because I’ve painted them for many years. Yet they are not easy for everyone. Newer artists are intimidated by all those leaves and greens.
My advice? Paint their nature. Sit and watch them. Do small thumbnail sketches. Find their balance. See how the trunk moves to smaller limbs, and to even smaller branches. I paint them as if they are dancers waving their arms in the sky. They twist and turn and gesture. Squint your eyes and paint the large shapes of the limbs and green masses rather than small individual leaves. Mix your greens, using liberal amounts of gray to tone them down.
And then at the end of your painting session, go right up to them for that hug. You’ll walk away with a smile, and make that tree’s day.