Thursday, April 30, 2009

Lesson #26 Trees in a Watercolor Painting

There are so many kinds of trees. In this lesson I’ll give you four examples to draw in pencil or ink. Then I will do a quick watercolor demonstration painting a palm tree.

First I use a pencil to quickly sketch the outline of a tree as a guide (Erase this outline later). You can trace it from a magazine or book. You can also look outside and sketch what you see – that’s what I like to do!

Then carefully draw in the details with pencil or ink.

First the outline guide, then the details.

Now to start the painting! First I draw an outline sketch in pencil right on watercolor paper. Since this is a tiny painting, about 5” x 6”, I didn’t bother to stretch it and staple it to a board.

Next I painted the outline of leave with a little yellow. Then I painted a few main veins and leaves of a several palm fronds with sap green (light green).

On a scrap of watercolor paper I practiced some brush strokes for the leaves. And I went ahead and began painting them in on my tree.

It would be a good idea to go outside and really observe different kinds of tree leaves.

And I continued to practice on my strokes with hooker’s green (dark green) with just a touch of red mixed in to make it even darker yet (Red is the compliment of green – straight across the color wheel from it!). And I took a little clear water on my brush to “pull” the color out on the leaf stroke.

Now I do the real thing on one of the fronds: Dark green…

…and clear water to pull the paint out a little on each leaf. Continue painting this way one frond at a time.


In this second picture here I’m adding a few extra darker fronds behind. And a couple new unopened ones at the top of the tree.

For the trunk I mix some hooker’s green with more red to paint the trunk.

Then I lift out some of the color from the middle of the trunk with clear water.

With a mixture of brownish green (green and red) I paint in a bit of shadow on the ground.

Then I apply a little clear water to soften it a little. Next I apply a little brown (red and green) to the bottom portion of the trunk.

…and soften it with clear water.

Well, that’s a start! What do you think? How about practicing by exploring with the other species of trees in your area?

I think you are ready to do a complete sunset painting next week! Yes, a whole painting! I will guide you from start to finish. You are going to be so proud of what you accomplish! It will be beautiful! Just in time for Mother’s Day here in the U.S.!

6 comments:

glasman9 said...

I cannot thank you enough for posting these lessons..I'm a beginner at the age of 65 and your techniques have been a real blessing to me.....thanks again..

brandy caruthers said...

Thanks for posting this it was really helpful.

graymatt said...

Very helpful....pretty

Judy Tailer said...

If you were painting the sky blue for ex, would you mask the fronds first? if so, would you mask out the indiviual spikes or just a general area? Thxs in advance for your reply.

Mara Mattia said...

Hi Judy, I'm sorry it has taken so long getting back to you. If I were painting the sky blue, I would probably not mask the branches & fronds at all. Since blue and yellow make green, and the fronds are green, the blue sky color will be fine in the green fronds. Just paint the green fronds over the blue sky. I hope that helps!

levi herris said...

Wow..Your tutorial will help me with my beach landscape to paint coconut trees. I learned to paint realistic trees from a video tutorial - http://www.jerrysartarama.com/art-lessons/Medium/Watercolors/Watercolors-Painting-Trees.html but, I was not sure how to paint specific trees and this is an amazing tutorial - short and precise.