View Full Version : Treez

10-10-2016, 07:27 PM

Title: Treez
Year Created:
Medium: Oil
Surface: Wood
Dimension: 8.25 x 11.25 inches
Allow digital alterations?: Yes!

I am just trying to get better at landscapes...trees and foliage in particular. It seems to give me the most trouble over anything else so I feel compelled to keep painting it until I get better.

Just any tips on trees and foliage in general would help alot.

10-12-2016, 02:16 PM
well, you've got some cool stuff going on here, and some confusing stuff too.

the upper middle section of trees is delightful, good atmospheric depth and nice color choices.
the tree/bramble stuff on (in) the water - stops and starts in odd locations and could use some clarification/reflections/shadows and/or grounding. is it an island with bushes? is it an overhanging tree?


10-12-2016, 04:04 PM
The main thing that jumps out at me is the repetitious shapes and colors..
The leaning tree or branch, island?? in foreground is hard to tell what it is.
You could even remove it and have mainly water , sometime you can use artistic license to edit a scene so it is less busy, if something is distracting or not fitting ...
Also the orange colors in Left corner is confusing, is it bushes, grasses...maybe some twigs and darker near the lower edge.

The far hills & trees are nice overall, and you show the distance well.

10-13-2016, 02:28 PM
Thank you guys for your comments :D And yes, everything you guys mentioned, now that I think about it, my mind was telling me there was something wrong with all along and I think I kind of ignored it. The big orange bush in bottom left, I can't stand how it looks but I just tried to render it as close to my reference as possible, also same with the log that looks like an island extending from it. I do think it would look better without the log/island looking thing, and this would also improve the water. Not sure how Im going to deal with the big orange bush in bottom left but I'm sure I can figure something out.

10-13-2016, 03:42 PM
the bottom left is fine - you've got some darks in there to make it appear like multiple bushes, which is way better than one big lump. if, when working the water, you want to shape the tops of the bushes to shape them more, you could, by simply pushing/peeking the blue in here and there.

on the right, climbing up the hill, you Could break up the stripy stacks of greenery so they look a bit more naturally crooked.


Mark Szymanski
10-13-2016, 09:41 PM
Doing a nice job on the painting. You've spent a lot of time in putting in detail in the background. As la said, the colors on the deep background trees are nice. Those trees crossing the boundary into the sky have a nice randomness to them. The tree limb with the mass of leaves and twigs and whatever hanging over the branch are evidence of a previous high water mark. I see this all the time around here. With a bit more work describing it, this would be a bit more obvious for others to see too.

I think you have some areas you could look into.

One is the overall values of the painting.

In black and white, you can see how similar all of the values are. All of those colors look very much the same in the picture when one converts them to a gray scale.
Adding more darks and boosting the lights a bit would help to separate the colors a bit.

One hint for painting masses of trees, would be to look for the different textures of the trees. When everything is more or less green, the texture of the leaves becomes more important in the distance. For instance, lets say you are looking at an oak, a willow, a pine, and a chestnut. In the distance, the all will have differing textures because of the way the light catches the leaves and the way the branching is arranged. If we look at the way an oak will reach out over the water with its massive branches, it is almost like a iron beam with horizontal branching arcing slowly away downwards and outwards from the main branch. These leaves are large and will shade those leaves below them - especially the leaves on the lower branches which are inwards toward the trunk. The branches are usually separated from one another and give the oak a particular shape - often (depending on the light) you'll see the horizontal banding this causes in an oak at a distance. A willow has slender leaves which are much lighter color and blend together at a distance. It's branches have an altogether different pattern and so the tree has a more uniform appearance with the base darker than the top as a rule. Pines will arc out over the water looking for light and when the find it then gracefully start to curve upwards. A chestnut (we have a number of them planted along the banks around here) has an altogether different shape. It is much smaller than the oak, pine, or willow, and its leaf group is much more bunching in shape at a distance.

If you think about the types of trees you have you'll notice almost immediately these differences when you study a photo or are out painting.

I also notice you use the same sort of marks no matter where in the painting you are placing the brush. In the distance it is likely you wouldn't see individual leaves if you are standing out there noticing the scene... the camera implies that you would, but you wouldn't.


I moved a portion around the painting, and if you changed the colors, you could slip it right in. This similarity in the way you're painting keeps you from getting the distance within the painting you're shooting for. After all, the leaves across the river are a great deal smaller than those closer to you and so are likely to blend together at that distance. There would usually only be some points of light here and there where the leaves are turned on their backs and catching the sun and reflecting the light to you.

In my estimation, I would consider dropping the detail in the background some more, and increasing the detail in the foreground. I don't feel you have placed enough information close enough to you to counter the detail in the background. Giving deeper darks and stronger lights where the leaves catch the light would be helpful. These near leaves and twigs and such are a great deal larger than the background because of their nearness, yet they're painted almost as a scumble rather than as plants growing, competing and reaching for the light and space.

I worked on a quick section just to describe what I am talking about. There are a million ways this could be handled, and I didn't spend much time thinking about the eye path or balance with the background shapes, so it isn't something I would take too seriously as far as design.

These larger marks in the foreground help to push the background into the distance a bit further, giving greater depth to the painting.

I like the colors you have chosen, there is a nice color harmony to what you've done. Keep up the good work.

Yvonne Keogh
10-13-2016, 10:27 PM
I love the colourful left foreground - please don't change it!
Very cheerful and lots of successful spots throughout.

This ducks-lined-up row of bushes is a bit odd:
...especially since the evergreens on top are also very clone-like standing in a row. In nature things are usually lopsided and varied.

The tree seems to be balancing on top of the water on very slight supports.

I really like this painting though - I also struggle with tree issues.

10-14-2016, 11:55 AM
I really have a lot to go off of now, thank you all so much for helping me with this painting! I was going to write it off as a study but now I have much more desire to work on it some more. Mark: I love what you did with the bottom left foreground, so simple and effective. The values are all very much the same as well, so messing with foreground values I feel I can really separate the background and foreground. Another thing, I feel if I was working on a larger canvas that I would do better with this type of painting. I feel kind of claustrophobic trying to create depth on this 8x11inch. Definitely do-able though :)

10-14-2016, 05:09 PM
It is funny, I would have said I really like the bold use of color and it made the painting unique, but seeing it in B&W, I like it more but also note the confusion in the composition more readily.

10-16-2016, 05:24 PM
There's excellent advice already. I too wonder how to handle trees - so much detail in the forest vistas around me here! I feel you've done an excellent job, your mastery of mark making is great! Perhaps it's a matter of variation of marks and of contrasts: Contrast of light/dark, detail/generalization, near features versus far features, and rendering in the painting a certainty of the light direction and how it would govern these contrasts, how the light would fall upon all your features. And how the above-mentioned techniques would move you eye around the painting. Choices like this, moving to slight abstractions through detail versus generalization, lighting sources falling upon features, contrasts of light/dark, area way of moving the viewer around the painting, telling the story and still be faithful to the source material.

Building on what you've done (and Mark's marks), here's a tweak introducing some of my thoughts:


(my tweaks are on the right version) It's a bit like those photo puzzles that ask us to find the 6 different things between two seemingly identical photos. :) Puzzle: What are six things I've changed?

I hope this provides food for thought, cheers!

10-16-2016, 09:13 PM
Hmmm, I think I see 4 lol. You darkened the darks in the foliage on the top/mid right. Brightened the yellow on the bush in the center. Seem to have blurred and reduced the contrast in the middle line of trees, and gave some more contrast to the sky. Very subtle, yet effective changes, I'm curious what the other 2 are and if I got those 4 right. Oh just found another one. Looks like you darkened the big tree on the left/top left.

10-16-2016, 10:23 PM
Hmmm, I think I see 4 lol. You darkened the darks in the foliage on the top/mid right. Brightened the yellow on the bush in the center. Seem to have blurred and reduced the contrast in the middle line of trees, and gave some more contrast to the sky. Very subtle, yet effective changes, I'm curious what the other 2 are and if I got those 4 right. Oh just found another one. Looks like you darkened the big tree on the left/top left. :clap: Yep, you've got them! I probably counted them up wrong ::) Also, a detail within the large (now darker) tree mass near us on the right is that I left your colourful boughs that lean out over the water as-is so they look like they're getting some light against the darker trees behind them. So these and the golden bush are being touched by the light indicated by the now-brightened sky (with its lightness gradient from left to right indicated light somewhere off to the left out of sight) ~ these patches of brightness forming a bit of a triangle of lighter/brighter forms, with the golden bush the point on the triangle pointing into the light. I think I slightly reduced the lightness/brightness on the leaves of the tree in foreground leaning out over the water, and the lower left corner around your signature ~ drawing us into the painting, I hope. Cheers!