BY THOMAS MAXWELL
As we come into winter, the temperature starts to cool, and this area opens back up for casual hikers like myself. I have always enjoyed nature and have recently started to develop my landscape painting skills. This month, I will show you how to paint a series of trees.
Now the sketching of the trees is quite simple; it’s mainly just a dome with legs. But the key thing to notice before you get stuck in, is the change of colour. You’ll notice the green is not the same colour throughout; towards the right it is darker and the left gets gradually lighter and lighter. It is important to look at the picture you are painting and understand where the light is coming from. As we went over in previous issues, blocking in is a simple process of putting in the core mid-tone colours first without any detail. Understanding light will help you with the blocking in stage and therefore make it easier later.
Don’t forget for all these paints below, mix with a small amount of the thinner! This will speed up your painting and it’s always good to go from thin to thick paint. Now that you have noticed the change in the colours, you can officially start blocking in. To help, make sure your brush strokes angle down on either end like you would if you were painting a Christmas tree template in year 3. This will add some realism to the blocking in and not make it look like a static zone of green. Be careful to clean your brush after each mini-section of green to avoid any cross contamination. If you want to lighten the green, try using yellow instead of white, as in return of lighting white usually makes the green duller.
At this stage you have waited for the paint to dry before starting stage 3. Take your smaller brush and mix green with a bit of the ivory black and the burnt umber. Dab your brush so that you only have a small amount on the brush. Then, very lightly start dabbing the paper/canvas with this brush. Very gently, almost like you aren’t moving it at all. This will make small dots around the trees which act as the leaves underneath, the ones without much detail. This is the next step, for the lighter areas try mixing some green in so it’s not the same colour throughout. If you do this, make sure to clean your brush before continuing.
Once the paint added on step 3 is finished and dry, mix some green and yellow to have a slightly lighter green than the section you will do first. With the fan brush, use the edge of the brush to create singular leaf-like patterns. Almost as gently as step 3, apply this fan brush movement downwards across the tree. This will create slightly more detailed leaves. Make sure that the green you use is lighter than the section you are doing, remember you can lighten the green by adding yellow to the mix. Add some leaves to the bottom trunks as well so that it flows from top to bottom. Continue adding and looking back at your reference image for directions on light and brightness. Remember, the key is not to be too precise with your leaves, you don’t want it to be too detailed as usually these trees are in the background, so do not require hours upon hours of work. Keep adding the green in spacious areas to allow the dark from step 3 to still be seen. Brushwork can be tricky, as I am finding myself! If you need any help, feel free to contact me on Instagram.
Keep up to date with Thomas on Instagram @thomasomaxwell or visit www.thomasomaxwell.com.