View Full Version : tree trunk sketch, plein air

04-15-2015, 12:04 AM
Well, after my last painting with trees I decided I hadn't spent enough time really looking at them. I remembered Jackie saying that the trunk and bark is like the portrait of a tree and Deborah Secor's blog says the same and suggests spending quite some time sketching one. Took a few bright pastels and charcoal to the park and sketched this crazy trunk of a live oak. It was a great learning experience but not really inspiration for a painting. Thought I'd share.
The bottom is funky, as I got tired and walked home before dark.http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/15-Apr-2015/1761517-tree_trunk.gif

04-15-2015, 05:33 AM
Mamalynn, you sure got a good visit with your tree. You show the massive tree and the low angled sun hitting the roots. Will you go back and give the bark some texture? What a great way to learn.

04-15-2015, 08:25 AM
I applaud your effort! I, too, have lately been much more interested in observing and painting nature. You've done a good job on this.

04-15-2015, 09:43 AM
I don't know, Mamalynn! I love this perspective. I could easily see it as a painting but I know what I'd do with it if it was mine.

I'd pose a bobcat or feral cat in it either at the base or up in the crotch where the two main branches take off and maybe step back just a little so the cat winds up in one of the rule of three focal areas. A bird would work, or a squirrel, but because it was me the first thing I thought of was a cat. Possibly sprawled out in one of those shapeless relaxation poses.

There's one technical problem that may have been something about the individal tree if its base is oval and we're looking at the narrow side. Branches are going to be half the width of the trunk leading up to them, or fractions that add up to that trunk like 1/3-2/3. The width of those two heavy branches is greater than the apparent width of the base - but I know how old live oaks twist and this could easily be a matter of angle as the trunks are not always circular either. I'd change it a bit to show that, the simple way is widening the short heavy trunk, the more complex way for a studio painting would be modeling it in kneaded eraser and turning it so the bulges show that make it clearer there's more trunk behind what we see.

But my first impression here was WOW!!! My critique is all suggestions for a studio painting based on it. As a plein air this s spectacular! It has a beautiful freshness, a great atmosphere and feeling. You got the deep grooves of the bark and the heavy shadows, the way light breaks on it, the sense of the vastness of the tree and a good composition overall (an animal would change that, thus the suggestion of step-back). The colors are buoyant and wonderful. I love this little painting and hope you do reconsider doing a good studio painting from it.

You could also sign it with initials that look like some kid carved them in the bark, that'd be neat.

A closer look and it seems as if there are really four branches springing off radially that just give an impression of it wider than the base. If the division between near branch and far branch were a little more distinct that sense of anatomical distortion would be gone and it would gain even more richness.

And cat of course but that's just me. Heck, this one's so big it could hold a cougar up there.