View Full Version : Tree Demo-close-up shots of colors UPDATED!

Deborah Secor
08-30-2008, 04:32 PM
I thought I'd share some photos of a demonstration painting I did on how to paint trees. I'm about an hour into this one, so don't think of it as finished. I wanted to show you some of the colors underneath, however, and if I wait till I'm finished you won't be able to see it as clearly.

Here's the way it looks:


It's my usual size, 12x18" on Wallis sandpaper. I started with a light gray tone in soft pastel using my foam brush, then did a very loose sketch establishing the trees, shadow, and sky with my charcoal, then went in right away with a lot of colors that were of the correct value and temperature, but NOT green. So you'll see orange and red-orange and red under the light parts, and purple and red-violet and turquoise under the shady areas of the foliage.


Here's another shot where you can see a little more development of the layers of colors. I used medium green over everything, then added warm yellow-greens in the sunlight and darker blue green in the shadows. I try to keep the strokes loose and quick, using a 'squiggle' for the areas in the center of the foliage, but detailing a little more on the edges.


If you have questions I'll be happy to try and answer them, and as I develop this further I'll take a couple more shots. It needs work!


Kathryn Wilson
08-30-2008, 04:36 PM
oooooo, I see all my favorite under painting colors in there - it really makes trees much more interesting than just green, green, and more green

08-30-2008, 04:43 PM
Unfinished or not, that's already beautiful enough to hang on a wall.

Winny Kerr
08-30-2008, 05:11 PM
Thank you Deborah...we learn so much from you and appreciate your giving of your time and talent. You are such a blessing to us all. Winny

08-30-2008, 05:35 PM
:wave: Thanks Deborah!

Lovely rich colors! :heart:

I love how you have used cool and warm colors to make parts come forward and other parts tuck in behind!

I always learn so much from your posts!


08-30-2008, 06:36 PM
I love it as is!! What is that darkest dark.. black??

08-30-2008, 07:33 PM

This is very lovely already. Thank you for doing this demo.

All of the under colors are just beautiful.


Deborah Secor
08-30-2008, 07:53 PM
Oh, good, glad you like it. I do too, but it needs more, of course.

No--it's NOT black, T, but the darkest green you can find anywhere. It's a Townsend that I really love...


08-30-2008, 10:43 PM
This is great Deborah. Thanks for the demo. I have a question for you. When you say "I used medium green over everything" do you mean using the side of your pastel over that whole balloon? And if you use the side, how many passes do you use? Just one or enough passes to cover the whole balloon lightly?

I hope these questions make sense to you.


David Patterson
08-30-2008, 11:03 PM
Very nice Deborah...yes, that rich dark green makes for a wonderful first layer of green. Lovely demo so far Deborah...thanks!


Enid Goyers
08-31-2008, 08:45 AM
Hi Deborah,
I was waiting for any further help on trees from you and am very happy to find this now. I will follow it very, very closely.
My problem right now is a birch tree as an exercise following the weeping willow. Should you have any recommendations on hand, I would be more than grateful to read or receive.
Thanks for making my pastel life easier!

08-31-2008, 12:58 PM
Deborah, thank you for this (and the previous 'balloon'-thread)! Learning so much from your generous sharing, thank you.


08-31-2008, 02:02 PM
Magic, just plain magic ! Always amazed at what you can do with pastels.

george c martins
09-01-2008, 10:35 AM
Hi Deborah

More work? Let it be....its great already...
like the way you paint the trees...theres a sense of losseness on each strick creating movement... simply love it...

I hope theres some sense on what I'm trying to express

09-02-2008, 12:04 AM
Thanks for the demo, it was very helpful. I have an ongoing challenge with trees.

09-02-2008, 10:44 AM
Deborah - I had no idea there were so many layers in your trees - you make them seem so simple and effortless and yet this is just so deep.

What I like the most are the dark shapes and also the color sense at the top - right away it's warm and light on the edges and yet you've identified branches early on in the top upper right. I'm also noticing how the background behind the trees is tied in right away.

Really great - this is a good lesson!

Thanks, Barb

09-02-2008, 12:57 PM
Thank-you! This is in my favorites now---I love these trees! Don't know what they are, but they seem like they could be elm or locust, and I really needed to see these. Can you do some pines? Close up and at a distance? The spruce seem easier to fathom, but the pines aren't so much. Thanks!

09-02-2008, 01:21 PM
Deborah, yeah, do PINES...I, too, copied and pasted the examples for further study.

Deborah Secor
09-02-2008, 02:39 PM
Let me see what I can find... Around here we have pinon and juniper trees. Is that the kind of pine you're asking about?

This one was a really quick little study I did a while back:

It's not wonderful but maybe it will help. I'll try to do a current one and show more of my steps...if I can!


09-02-2008, 11:44 PM
This is good. I see I'm darks challenged. My guess is they go in first, in a pattern, don't they. Even if the tree has a lot of light on it. Geez, I wish I could follow my own advice...

09-03-2008, 09:25 AM
incredible colors, it is really helpful to see how you work, thank you!

Deborah Secor
09-03-2008, 01:48 PM
You got it, Sonni--pattern in the darks first!

I plan to do a little demo of a pine tree and some bark for my class tomorrow, so I'll see if I can post a couple shots here.

You're welcome, Joni...


Deborah Secor
09-11-2008, 09:51 AM

Eden Compton painted this and I thought it was such a good pine tree I wanted to show it here... I love the COLORS in this! She painted it in reds first, and it was done in a workshop with Doug Dawson.

Haven't had any time to do a step-by-step demo--sorry! I'll do my best but life is pretty busy. :wave:


Deborah Secor
09-12-2008, 05:04 PM
I made a lot of changes in this as I developed it and thought I'd share them with you. I consider this finished now.

First the before....and then the after!

As part of my continuing demonstration I decided to play with the foreground and make it grassy, with softer shadows, instead of the graphic turquoise and gold. As I painted I decided I wanted the focus to be more on the sky and tree interface, to (I hope) give an impression of the summer storm coming across the plains and making the elm trees dance in the wind. I upped the contrast in the sky a little more, softened the colors and the edge of the distant blue hills, and added more to the lower edge of the foliage against the grass, as well as coloring the trunks and reshaping things there. I added more red-violet to the mountains and the shadows, which also serves to unify the color more. The trees appear closer now, not as isolated, and seem to be a more integral part of the whole landscape as result.


09-12-2008, 05:18 PM
Deborah, thank you, thank you, thank you! I just posted a sketch in the sketch thread. Everything turned out well except the trees and I was stumped. Stymied. Stuck. I was hoping to find some help, and here's this thread. Synchronicity. ~Roma

Deborah Secor
09-12-2008, 07:45 PM
Good--I hope this thread helps a little! :D