Best Trees I Ever Painted

Tree Study 1

Good morning everyone. Actually, I’m really quite pleased with these watercolour studies – they’re my best trees ever! As it happens, I do paint trees often, either in landscapes or in urban sketching. And, I don’t think I paint them all that well. So, I decided to invest in a short online course by Watercolours Made Simple . To be honest, I’ve only looked at a lesson or two but I have been pleased with what I’ve learned so far. Otherwise, I might have continued to make it up as go along, a particular drawback of watercolour for me, I find. In fact, I think it’s really necessary to study techniques to improve. More so than in acrylic, for example. But, that’s just my opinion and I can’t claim to be particularly gifted at watercolour painting.

Learning how to paint your best trees

Anyway, this learning was good fun too, so it wasn’t a chore. Simply explained, the tutor taught us to start with the foliage first. (Who knew?). So I painted three or four irregular ovals with a watery mid green mix, leaving little patches of paper white. Then use a mix of a darker shade of the colour and a lighter one too. And, describe the shapes of the clumps of foliage, not individual leaves, with lighter colour in the sun . And, darker colour in the shade. It does help to look at a tree or a photo when doing this. After that, put in the trunks and branches, using a watery mix of lightish brown and add patches of darker shade.

Tree Study 2

Here I practised mixing lots of tree greens using yellows, blues, brown and red – see top row. Then we stayed with the greens to paint conifers and another deciduous tree. I really liked doing a row of trees on the horizon, something I always botched before. Finally, I attempted to show how some trees recede into the background when you paint a forest, mainly using the paler shade of the original green. Now, I do hope I can remember that when I’m sketching en plein air!

Big Tree in my Garden

Or in my back garden for that matter, as I did here last summer. And , even though this one was in acrylic, some of these principles would help with other kinds of paint. If you want to see some of my winter trees, see here.

9 Replies to “Best Trees I Ever Painted”

  1. Lovely trees…I struggle with them as well. In the lessons I have taken on painting trees in watercolors, the instructors do the trunks first, then foliage, then smaller limbs and twigs. I guess each must have their own way of doing things.

    1. Thank you, KT. I think you’re right, but my trees sometimes looked a bit stiff when I painted tree trunk first. However these are only samples, the approach might have to be different in a larger composition.

Let me know what you think !

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