Trees tend to be the most prevalent objects in landscape painting,
but they are also the most difficult to draw and paint.
It is seldom that we see a landscape painting without trees or bushes
- even the desert has scrub bushes and low gnarled trees. It is
important for the landscape painter to gain as much experience in
drawing and painting trees.
Carry a sketch book with you, so that whenever you are in your
village or town or having a lunch break outdoors or in a park you can
spend a few minutes studying the texture of the trunk, the bole (or the
shape of the tree as a whole.)
Roadside trees - a finished
Study the trees in the distance, see how they seem then, as I
mentioned under 'perspective' to be of one value or one flat colour.
This is especially noticeable on a misty morning when the distant
landscape appears in flat layers, each closer layer being slightly
darker than the previous one, and all not very different from the colour
of the sky.
Trees in the middle distant will be more detailed, branches possibly
showing and foliage appearing in two values (light and dark) instead of
a single one as in distant trees. The time spent studying trees proves
to be of greatest value of course, when painting them into the
foreground of a picture; for here all the painting of trunks, branches
and foliage is at its strongest both regarding detail and in
colour.Washing off is another technique based on the fact that the wet
watercolour can be removed by washing, leaving the dried watercolour
unaffected. The method is often used to remove mistakes, but can be
adapted for creative purposes.
After applying loose watercolour washes, dry the areas you wish to
preserve with a hair dryer, shielding or masking the parts you want to
When the paper is washed under a tap those areas will still wet will
be removed leaving only a slight stain, while the dried washes will be
For tree barks with strong directional ridges or furrows, or for
rocks the texture is best achieved by suggestion.
In painting road side trees, paint the distant trees with vertical
strokes of a round brush, and the trees in the foreground with sideways
movements of a painting knife dipped in colour. This treatment leaves
areas of bare paper that give interesting bark effects.