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Old 05-31-2017, 10:44 PM
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DAK723 DAK723 is online now
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The Spotlight - June 2017 - Deciduous Trees

Welcome artists!

Here is a quick recap of what The Spotlight is all about!

The Spotlight is an activity thread for pastel artists of all experience levels working from photos chosen by a monthly host. Most months, the host will choose photos from only one subject, putting that subject into “the spotlight,” so to speak! For example, one month the subject will be painting water, another month will spotlight flowers, etc.

Some months, rather than spotlight a subject, the focus will be on a challenge of some sort. In those cases, we might have a wider variety of photo references, but “the spotlight” will be on the challenge itself.

Since this is a group activity, we can pool our knowledge and resources, and grow as artists in a fun, “no-pressure” atmosphere.

And, remember, no critiques unless specifically asked for.

The intent is to have fun, try new things, experiment, and perhaps most of all, to see what our friends and colleagues are painting from the same reference material!

Please note: The photos this month were taken by me or are from the Reference Image Library. You have permission to use the photos as reference to create your artwork and to sell them and/or exhibit them. The actual photos still retain the copyright of the photographer. So you cannot copy the photo to your blog, for example, without the permission of the photographer, or digitally alter or reproduce the photo for any purpose other than for your personal use, with the exception of crops, digital alterations and posts of these photos within "The Spotlight" thread.

This month’s Spotlight is on…Deciduous Trees!

Anyone who wants to paint landscapes is eventually going to have to paint trees! They are all around us – and whether or not a tree or trees is a main subject in your painting - they are often going to be in the painting somewhere, whether in the distance, mid-ground or foreground! Generally speaking, trees come in two categories – trees with broad leaves that usually turn color in the fall and then drop off (deciduous trees) and trees with pine needles that stay green year around (coniferous trees). Checking these definitions on my computer, I am told that they are not 100% accurate, but for artistic purposes, they are good enough! So this month, let’s put the Spotlight on Deciduous Trees!

As with most subjects in our paintings, trees are usually painted considerably simplified. Here are some of the things that I would suggest when painting trees:

Start with the silhouette of the tree (or multiple trees) and see if you can capture the essence of the silhouette shape. Is it square, round, tall and narrow, short and squat, triangular, irregular?

If there are large foliage shapes within the main silhouette, try and define those shapes – simplifying where possible.

In most cases, you will have a range of shadow to light within the silhouette and those larger foliage shapes. The darkest shadows are normally within the deepest parts of the tree, so it is often a good idea to start with those darkest values to block in the tree silhouette. Then as the foliage comes closer to you and away from the tree’s center, more light hits those areas and they are painted with a lighter value. The outermost areas of foliage that are in the light, will then be the lightest value. Painting the foliage in that order will usually be easier as it creates the correct depth of the tree.

Distance will play a role in how much shadow to light variation there is. Distant trees may be pure silhouettes of one value. As the trees get closer, more value variation will appear.

Decide on the importance of the trunk and branches. If the tree is very full of foliage, the branches may not be that important. On the other hand, on a tree with sparser foliage, the shape and movement of the branches may be the most important feature that captures the tree’s essence. On trees with sparser foliage, the “sky holes” will usually be more important (and larger) so pay attention to those “negative” shapes.

Observe the shapes of the trunk and main branches. Sometimes we don’t pay close attention and just paint them straight, but they usually aren’t!

Don’t worry about painting individual leaves. In many cases you may not need any, especially if the tree is in the mid ground or farther away. If you need a greater level of detail, a few small marks at the edges of the silhouette may give the impression that you have painted leaves all over!

Keep in mind that these are my suggestions and others may have more and/or better ones, too!

Let’s take a closer look at some of those suggestions:



Above is a beautiful pastel painting by Elizabeth Mowry. In my opinion, the silhouette of the main tree is the strongest element as all the interior detail is subdued in comparison. The foliage is depicted by shapes that I like to call “clumps of leaves”. These clumps are painted in a lighter value against the darker colors that depict the deeper foliage and branches. A few lighter values and some areas of slightly more yellow-green color suggest a bit more detail and the leaves that are in sunlight. We can see a few individual strokes and marks of pastel that suggest individual leaves, many of them at the edges of the silhouette, and a few within the larger shape. The trees in the row behind the main tree seem to be simplified even more.



Here is another painting by Mowry. In this case, even though there are multiple trees, they are connected into one silhouette shape. To help differentiate the trees, the one tree in the middle is a different color. Using a different color (often only slightly different) is one way to suggest individual trees within a group. Again, notice the clumps of lighter foliage against the darker color of the deeper leaves. These trees have fuller foliage and the sky holes are smaller and less important than the first example.



Next is a painting by Bob Rohm. The essence of these trees seems to be their thick, heavy trunks and branches! My guess (or the way I would have done it) is that Rohm painted the thick trunks and branches first. Then clumps of foliage would be added so that they begin covering some of the branches and trunks. Darker foliage shapes first, then those lighter shapes that define the foliage in sunlight. Those clump shapes vary in size and shape – and have some nice subtle variation of color, too. All those variations in size and color will create interest and might make it seem more detailed, when it really isn’t!



One more painting by Elizabeth Mowry. Here we have trees that are more in the distance. The main tree is mostly silhouette, but has some clump shapes of lighter value indicating those areas in the sun. The trees or shrubs on the left are very simplified as they are of lesser importance. As is usually the case, the degree of importance of the subjects within your painting will also influence how much detail is depicted.

[Please note that the paintings by Elizabeth Mowry and Bob Rohm are under copyright and are being used for educational purposes only.]

Sky Holes

A word about sky holes. Personally, I hate painting sky holes, so I almost always paint the sky or whatever is in the background before I paint the tree. Of course, since the tree is never painted perfectly on the first try, some sky holes are usually still necessary to be put in after the tree is done or nearly done. Other painters like painting the main silhouette of the tree first, and then add sky holes to refine the tree shape. Most books you read will mention that sky holes are slightly darker than the adjacent sky. I would say this is normally true for smaller sky holes. Smaller sky holes are often darker because they are not “pure” holes – they have tiny branches and small leaves within that aren’t visible from a distance. They may also be slightly darker since the light waves can’t get through as efficiently because of their size. But for larger sky holes, I wouldn’t worry about making them darker and I would try to match the adjacent sky color as best as possible.

The challenge of Green

While there are some deciduous trees that aren't green, the vast majority of them are. In the Spring, they often start out with a more yellow-green color, but soon turn into their usual middle-of-the-road green color that they keep through the summer. In the fall, of course, many become wonderfully colorful, but since we always have an annual Spotlight celebrating fall color, most of my references this month have green trees (I do have one fall reference).

In our previous Spotlight on “Green,” I wrote about the challenge of green. You will see in many books, videos and online tutorials, that artists are often paying special attention to paintings that have a lot of green foliage. They advise putting a lot of non-green colors into green objects! Here is what I had to say about that!

Quote:
For most of my artistic life, I never considered green to be any more of a challenge than any other color. Then, when I got on the internet, suddenly I began to hear many comments about how artists disliked green or tried hard to avoid green. Frankly, I like green as much as any other color – so I don’t really understand that outlook. Perhaps living in an area that has long, snowy winters, I have a very strong affection for green since it means winter is over and spring is here! Nothing is lovelier to me than “spring” green!

One thing that makes painting greens difficult is that the green pigments that are used to make our pastels and tubes of paint are not usually the color of the greens of nature. Many green pigments are cooler blue-greens, while most of the greens of nature are warmer yellow-greens (at least where I live - although it is always easy to forget that things can be quite different in different parts of the world). Plus, there are not that many green pigments. This, of course, is more of a problem with painters using paint from tubes, but some brands of pastels are somewhat limited in their selection of greens. Luckily for pastel artists, many brands do have larger selections – and they create pastels that are mixtures of green and yellow pigments in an effort to create pastels that fill in the warmer yellow-green section of the color wheel.

Some greens – especially the greens of springtime, or in sunshine – can be very intense. But more often, greens are somewhat more subdued than we think (at least more subdued than I think). There is often a lot more orange and brown within the greens of grasses and trees than we may notice. Tree trunks, branches, twigs, dead leaves or pine needles, grass that is “burned” by the summer sun, the earth under the grass all add some color that influences the greens!



One common method of adding those hints of red, orange and brown is by doing an underpainting using any of those warm colors. It’s not just a strategy – those warmer colors are in – or under – those greens! You don’t need to do an underpainting, of course, you can add and mix colors at any time in the painting process!


Here are some links that may be helpful:

https://www.lanaballot.com/my-tree-d...om-last-class/

http://kemstudios.blogspot.com/2015/...ldflowers.html

http://kemstudios.blogspot.com/2013/...ekjoin-us.html

And a demo by Paula Ford, one of the best painters of trees that I know, and a former guide here in the pastel forum:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=630093

OK, time for the references:
















(All photos by me)

As always, please feel free to modify the references! And enjoy!

Don
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Old 06-01-2017, 07:01 AM
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Re: The Spotlight - June 2017 - Deciduous Trees

Trees! I can't wait!!! Thank you.

I love the Mowry paintings and that Paula Ford demo is fabulous.

Thanks for lovely references.
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Last edited by Still-trying : 06-01-2017 at 07:41 AM.
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Old 06-01-2017, 08:29 AM
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Re: The Spotlight - June 2017 - Deciduous Trees

Like a delicious box of chocolates I can hardly wait to dip into this subject!

P.S. Here's a nice video posted on Youtube by Marla Baggetta "Afternoon Delights" an artist not afraid of green!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PkuXiZh8-V4&t=1s





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Last edited by Divasin : 06-01-2017 at 08:55 AM.
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Old 06-01-2017, 10:55 AM
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Re: The Spotlight - June 2017 - Deciduous Trees

Thanks Leslie. Looks good!
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Old 06-01-2017, 03:47 PM
nachele nachele is offline
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Re: The Spotlight - June 2017 - Deciduous Trees

Wow cool spotlight! I'm at home so I'm starting now, but it's my first landscape, I'm a bit intimidated, I'll try and see what comes out of it! The references are very nice, still don't know which one to choose

I'll keep you updated with my WIPs
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Old 06-01-2017, 06:39 PM
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Re: The Spotlight - June 2017 - Deciduous Trees

Ok I went for the first reference, here's my WIP for tonight. Going on in the weekend. Trees are soooo difficult!! I am really having a hard time on this!



Bye,

Nat

Edit:sorry the image came up rotated, I uploaded from my phone ad was autoresized, don't know why
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Last edited by nachele : 06-01-2017 at 06:42 PM.
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Old 06-01-2017, 06:57 PM
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Re: The Spotlight - June 2017 - Deciduous Trees

Ciao Nachele, you have some good things going on in this painting and your first landscape yet! Nice job. I particularly love the way you did the tree on the right.

Jay
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Old 06-01-2017, 07:09 PM
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Re: The Spotlight - June 2017 - Deciduous Trees

Yay, trees! It's not leaves, but it's close enough! And joy of joys, it's summer, so I'll be able to participate.

Leslie, that video was fascinating... There were so many other colors she used besides green, and she began in a way that was completely new to me. I loved the underpainting so much that I almost didn't want her to complete the painting!

Nat, I think your underpainting has fabulous potential. What was hard about it?

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Old 06-01-2017, 09:47 PM
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Re: The Spotlight - June 2017 - Deciduous Trees

Nat, Here's your painting rotated. For a first landscape, you are doing great!



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Old 06-01-2017, 09:51 PM
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Re: The Spotlight - June 2017 - Deciduous Trees

Leslie, Nice video that you linked to! A good demo on painting trees first and then adding sky (and ground) holes! Don't know how anyone can paint that small either! I sure can't!

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Old 06-02-2017, 05:42 PM
nachele nachele is offline
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Re: The Spotlight - June 2017 - Deciduous Trees

Leslie, thanks, the video from Marla Baggetta is amazing, I love the Away she applies the pastels and the colors she chooses!

Don, thanks for rotating the pic! And for the encouragement, I thought landscape were easier than portaits but I was wrong...

Shallbe, thanks for your appreciation, I found very hard to choose the colors, and to apply them. I am news to pastels and I don't have much confidence with them, for the leaves I fondo hard to understand how to use the pastel on the paper, many times I couldn't achieve the effect I had in my mind and Washington wondering, shall I be gentle here or apply more pressure, or shall I do a continuative movement with mi hand, or little strokes or dots, shall I blend somehow or not... this in the small color variation in the foliage was very hard! I made some progress today, hope tomorrow to post a finished version!

Jay, thanks for your kind encouragement, everyone here is motivating me a lot, thanks sooo much, such a nice community I found...
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Last edited by nachele : 06-02-2017 at 05:48 PM.
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Old 06-02-2017, 09:24 PM
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Re: The Spotlight - June 2017 - Deciduous Trees

Quote:
Originally Posted by nachele
I found very hard to choose the colors, and to apply them. I am news to pastels and I don't have much confidence with them, for the leaves I fondo hard to understand how to use the pastel on the paper, many times I couldn't achieve the effect I had in my mind and Washington wondering, shall I be gentle here or apply more pressure, or shall I do a continuative movement with mi hand, or little strokes or dots, shall I blend somehow or not...

These are the types of questions and decisions that every artist faces and can often take many paintings to discover the answers (some of us - like me - are still looking for many of those answers...). So don't worry if it takes time to learn how to do landscapes. While every type of painting - landscape, portraits, figures, still life, etc. - has similarities in technique, there are differences, too! The fact that you are already doing so well on your first landscape is very impressive.

Don
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Old 06-02-2017, 10:22 PM
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Re: The Spotlight - June 2017 - Deciduous Trees

Wonderful topic! Close to my heart and something I struggle with - still have problems with sky holes, don't like putting them in, don't always remember to, sometimes don't like how they come out. Great lesson in them and in using greens. Other colors worked into them do make them sparkle.

Violet and orange particularly do well accenting green. Deep dark violets make better deep darks than black with it and even very bright oranges work out well overlaid. Though earthy oranges are very true to the dried-bits colors at least around here.

Nat, great start on your painting. I love the rich colors and the way you've got the forms blocked in. looking forward to seeing more!
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Old 06-05-2017, 04:05 AM
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Re: The Spotlight - June 2017 - Deciduous Trees

Good morning everyone!
I've been doing some progress this weekend...hope to finish it tonight or tomorrow.
Any suggestions to improve it while I'm still working on it? I feel linke it's very flat, without much sense of depth and perspective... something I definitely have to work on!

Thanks

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Old 06-05-2017, 12:20 PM
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Re: The Spotlight - June 2017 - Deciduous Trees

Nat, I doesn't look flat to me! The tree stands out against the sky. The tree has depth. I think it's lovely. Brava!

Jay
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