View Full Version : Simple Tree Demo

Deborah Secor
02-18-2006, 07:09 PM
This is a little demo I did on trees. I thought some of you might like to see the drawing develop, and then the addition of color.



This is how it looks at present. I still might touch some spots, for instance the dark branches that start from the trunk on the right hand side and come up behind the main (lightest) trunk at the top need more work. I like the blue-gray color but it turns too dark up higher... I need to make little picks like that, so fire away if you see anything. I have other plans to change things but it's too hard to describe, so if I get farther along on it I'll shoot photos for you! :rolleyes: It's my usual, on reclaimed Wallis, 11x17".

Here's a close up shot for you, showing that some of the details aren't all they appear to be! I used my colour shaper to create an impression of smaller branches amid the purples.



02-18-2006, 07:22 PM
That's fascinating and useful. Thanks!

Paula Ford
02-18-2006, 07:29 PM
This is just what I needed for inspiration Deborah. Thank you


02-18-2006, 07:57 PM
wonderful demo, thanks, james

02-18-2006, 08:01 PM
What's a color shaper?

02-18-2006, 08:44 PM
Hi Megan,

Here's a link :




02-18-2006, 08:45 PM
Hi Deborah,

Your painting has a great light.



02-18-2006, 10:20 PM
Hi Dee - fabulous job and good lesson on the value study first.

Thanks for sharing this - and also the close up of the branches.


M Douglas
02-18-2006, 11:07 PM
Thanks for taking the time to show us this little demo, much appreciated.


Deborah Secor
02-19-2006, 12:05 AM
You're more than welcome... :D I always tell my students they have to paint naked trees first, just so they understand tree anatomy. This is a humble little elm that's across the street from my house. It will leaf out in the near future and maybe I can do a painting of it then, too. Sort of a 'paint the changing seasons' series, a la New Mexico. (Think Elizabeth would approve? LOL)


Tom Behnke
02-19-2006, 12:20 AM
Wow Deborah, thanks. This was a great lesson for me. It really illustrates the value lessons. It is such a metamorphosis from the last 'B&W' shot to the 'technicolor'. I just learned a lot. Much appreciated.


Piper Ballou
02-19-2006, 01:12 AM
a very simple tree and it says so much...very nice...and I like the naked part..

Mikki Petersen
02-19-2006, 01:24 AM
Deborah, this is a wonderful demo on a subject that gives me fits! Thank you so much.


Karen Margulis
02-19-2006, 08:51 AM
Thanks for sharing this demo! I am working on trees and I will have to follow your advice and go paint some naked trees today!

Kathryn Wilson
02-19-2006, 08:56 AM
Wonderful demo - quick question, what are you using in the initial stages? Is it hard pastels, vine charcoal or pencil?

I love the tip on using the color shaper for the indistinct branches.

02-19-2006, 09:11 AM
Hey Deb, great tree. I was looking at the first two in developement and bam!!! this gorgeous tree pops up. Your landscapes rock!

02-19-2006, 10:38 AM
Great demo--I know I'll make use of it.

One question...do naked tree paintings require the butt icon?

02-19-2006, 01:08 PM
I'm interested in what you did the grey scale with also! VERY useful demo on both trees and value studies! I'm rating this one so it hopefully will wind up in the library! Thanks, Deborah!

EDIT--aha! Just re-read your other greyscale post and noticed you said you used greyscale pastels for that stage...gee, to think I've had a set of Blockx greyscale that I got way back and always wondered what I would do with! And the later colors don't just get all greyed out when you put them on top? Or do you use fixative in between?

02-19-2006, 06:18 PM
Oh Dee, your demo is great! I'm going to copy it and put it in my reference notebook. Of course, the tree is wonderful.


02-19-2006, 09:40 PM
Deborah, the marks the color shaper makes on top of the turquoisey blue with the plummish branches is tops. Thanks for the closeup!

Deborah Secor
02-19-2006, 09:58 PM
Yep, You all are right, the underpainting was done in the grayscale pastels. I find it really helps me to structure things. An artist I interviewed once told me that she found that when her students literally touched every area, laying down a value for every color, they understood how to sculpt the space better.

No, I don't use fixative, and the colors are not greyed or dirtied by the underpainting at all, as long as you match value for value correctly. In other words, if you intend to use a dark color over a dark value, and a light color over a light value, it doesn't affect things because there's no contrast to muddy things. If, however, you put a light color over a dark value, or a dark color over a light value, it will become muddy--but isn't that always true??? (One great recipe for mud is different values mixed together, in case you ever want to achieve some nice mud...) When I need to change things I use my foam brush to wisk away some of the gray so that I can put down a fresh stroke of a color in the correct value! I think you can tell from the close-up that it isn't muddy at all...

Hope that helps. :D

Bhavana Vijay
02-20-2006, 12:03 AM
Thanks for the wonderful demo! loved watching the beautiful tree develop.

Tracy Lang
02-20-2006, 01:13 PM
Thank you for the great demo...I can't wait to try this technique!

02-20-2006, 01:24 PM
Nice and very helpful.

When I took the Handell workshop, and they said learn to draw trees, this is what I thought we'd get. Anatomy, foilage, evergreen, winter trees, etc. But it was just a quick discussion on how a branch comes off a limb.

This is a good and helpful study.


02-20-2006, 03:36 PM
Very nice and instructive. Once again, thanks a lot

Deborah Secor
02-20-2006, 06:52 PM
Thanks all--glad you'e found this helpful. :)

Funny you mention Handell, Johnnie. He was my instructor--I learned so much about trees from him. I had a really hard time with them and his demos helped me immensely--but I worked with him for six years or so, doing two workshops a year, plus a lot of personal help from him. I remember the 'branch' demo you mention...in fact, I often show my students that idea, too!


02-21-2006, 12:00 PM
Thanks so much... can always use a tutorial.

02-21-2006, 11:06 PM
Great demo, thank you.