My New Silver Birch Painting

Silver Birch Wood

Good morning everyone. This is my new silver birch painting in gouache. Well, I thought it was about time I created my version of the silver birch woodland scene. Of course, I wanted to make mine a little bit different from the many excellent dark, atmospheric paintings I have seen. So I went for a feeling of slender tree trunks, shimmering in the hazy light. And, the colour of the grass is sharp and bright, just like it is after a shower. As for the sky, I exaggerated the mauve tones, to please myself actually! But, it really makes me want to step into the picture and see what is round the bend in the path!

Silver Birch Wood – a closeup

By the way, I am starting to feel a little bit more confident with gouache paint now, at long last! In fact, I do like painting with it very much. And, I am getting used to the way it moves around on the page and how the colours settle after a while. But, it can still surprise me when one colour can ‘merge’ into another over night! And that’s what happened to these silver birches with the white highlighting. As regards the shift in colour as they dry, I suppose it is becoming a little more instinctive. And, I must have gone through this when learning how to handle acrylic paint. However, I probably forgot about the learning stage as soon as I was through it. But, I must say I am now trying a different type of paper, a more smooth finish. And I’ll show you the first painting when I’ve finished it.

Painting Trees

Finally, you must have noticed how much I love painting trees, see this post here . So here are one or two examples. Firstly in watercolour and pen and then in oil pastel and watercolour.

A Tree in Outline
The Big Tree in my Garden

Catching Up with my Paintings

Pumpkin Seedlings

Good morning everyone. At last, I’m really pleased that I managed to do some catching up and finish this gouache painting. In fact, I started it off about four weeks ago at our art society meeting. And the subject was “food” so I chose to paint these pumpkin seedlings we were growing. Well, I called it future food, so it fitted in! Anyway, the way it almost looked like an abstract composition seen from above inspired me. Because of the circles, I suppose. But I didn’t let it take over, and I made sure I painted in quite a realistic style. Another goal I had in mind was to apply the paint more thickly and I did succeed to some extent. However, I will need more practice on this. If you want to check up on the progress of the plants, they are all now in the ground, flourishing and underneath some netting. It’s a rabbit problem, don’t ask! If you want to see a drawing of last year’s harvest, have a look at this post here .

The Last Tree

Finally, more catching up,here’s one of my new style abstracts, using passages of colour to provide interest in the background. So, the first stage was done ages ago and was sitting on my dining room table, reproaching me. For, I couldn’t think of a suitable motif to be the top layer. Nonetheless, inspiration eventually came, and I quickly drew in a lifeless tree. See more live trees here .

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.

Learning New Techniques in Watercolour

A Quiet Walk

Good morning everyone. This is the first quick watercolour I did from a little book I have just bought. ’30 Minute Landscapes ‘ by Paul Talbot- Greaves and I can thoroughly recommend it. Actually, I had a couple of recommendations from friends. And as Paul is a brilliant, local artist, I thought I would treat myself and support him too! As you may know, I use watercolour paint for little plein air sketches. But I’m really self taught and I started to feel a bit dissatisfied with the direction my paintings were taking. So, I was ready to learn and experiment with new techniques.

To be more specific, in this sketch I learned how to make the last layer of background recede in a subtle way. That is, by adding a wash of light red plus cobalt blue over the base colour. Also, I understood the importance of using increasingly small brushes for the branches and twigs of the tree.

Down the Lane

Next I tried my hand at this sunlit, summer scene and I really enjoyed the challenge of portraying trees loaded with foliage. In this exercise Paul taught me how to put down the first wash of green with other colours subtly mixed in. For example, sap green, lemon yellow and ultramarine blue. Surprisingly, this makes the end result (after adding more layers) more vibrant. In addition, I tried stippling darker colours into the mass of leaves to show shade. Of course, you use the tip of the brush to dot the paint on. In fact, I was delighted with these two exercises and I can’t wait to attempt more . And I think this studying is changing the way I paint my own subjects – in a good way. What do you think?

Putting New Techniques into Practice

Down by the Bridge

If you would like to see more of my quick sketches, there’s loads on my Instagram margaret hall fine art

Big Tree in my Garden

The Big Tree

Good morning everyone. Well, it’s finished at last! And, to be honest, I don’t really know why I didn’t complete the Big tree in my Garden earlier. Actually, I started this big painting back in the spring, after doing at least two other studies. In fact, you may remember these mixed media versions, because I think I did post them.

Study 1 for The Big Tree

As I remember, I painted the twisting shapes of the branches, still really visible in spring, before the leaves grew thicker. And I found these fascinating, at the same time realising that we had created them ourselves. Simply by hacking the growth back every year in a vain attempt to keep the tree small for our modestly sized town garden. Anyway, I sketched first in charcoal and then I worked in oil pastel.

Study 2 for The Big Tree

Now, this is the second version that I sketched in charcoal and then added watercolour and pen for finishing touches. By the way, I sketched both of these through the living room window. And, as you can see,the season is moving on!

The Big Tree

But, to get back to the bigger painting, I decided to paint the tree quite simply and make sure that it dominates the space. But I also wanted to give emphasis to the rather fine building on the other side of my garden wall. At present it is used as offices, but, using my artistic licence, I show it as the grand family home that it once was.

And, I daydream about the people who live there, do they watch my house from their windows? And, what is there over the hill that the house sits on top of? So, as you have realised, I have created an imaginary scene from the reality I live in. Because, there’s always more than meets the eye, in my imagination anyway!

The Big Tree – a closeup

Finally, this acrylic painting on paper is 16 by 20 inches and the price is £80 plus postage, free in UK. Just email me on my Contact Me page here. And, if you want to see more of my trees, see here.

New Woodland Painting for Sale

Three Trees

Good morning everyone. Well, here, as I promised is my latest small, woodland painting for sale. Honestly, I really enjoyed creating this one. Probably because painting trees is one of my favourite subjects, as you might have noticed! (See this post here). Actually, I based this study on a pencil sketch in my sketchbook. As I recall, I focused down on just part of the scene to make this study. But then, as often happens, the painting took on a life of its own. Meanwhile, I deepened the shadow in the background to make more of a contrast with the glow cast by the setting sun. As you can see, the rays are falling on to the tree trunks and the soft, thick foliage.

Incidentally, have you ever walked in the wood when the sun is starting to set on a still, summer’s evening? In fact, it can look quite magical and that’s the feeling I was looking for here.

Finally, if you want to buy a unique piece of art, this woodland painting is for sale. Perhaps as a treat for yourself or a gift for a loved one. And it’s only £15 plus shipping (free if in UK). Acrylic on paper, 7 by 9 inches, unframed and without a mount. Simply go to the Contact Me page here and send me an email, payment is by PayPal. Then you can enjoy a ‘walk’ in the woods every time you look at it!

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