Thinking of trees

Winter branches Faywood

Winter branches Faywood

On my dog walks through the neighborhoods, I often think about trees…well really, I think about how to paint them.  They fascinate me with their different foliage, shapes, sizes, colors of green.  As the leaves have come in this spring, I’ve realized I didn’t get out quite enough during the winter when the leaves are gone, making painting trees easier and more fun.  The sketch and wash above was done at Faywood Hotsprings outside Deming, NM.

It’s really a form of mindfulness, to focus on an aspect of nature around you and really truly look at it.  When my kids were toddlers and life was way too hectic and harried to paint, I would practice mindfulness by finding something cool or interesting in every front yard or house on my route.  It’s amazing what you can find to revel in:  a cool shadow of a weed, the shape of a rock, a beautiful bloom (but that’s the easy part)…you get the idea.

different evergreens        nectarine tree      fuzzy tree

So anyway, back to trees, I decided to snap photos of trees that I see and really look at how I would show them in paint.  Trees are defined by their shape and their color, and important things to consider are the eye holes or the gaps where there isn’t foliage.  the “windows” of the tree.

You can see the left evergreen has more windows of sky that sweep in almost to the trunk and some of the branches are more lacy than others.  The evergreen further down the street has is chunkier, with different size windows.And not all the windows show sky of course, some show houses or dirt behind the tree.   And you would want to vary the shape and sizes of the different boughs, and windows, so that it doesn’t look uniform, even if in life it is uniform.

The middle photo is a nectarine tree and you can see how scraggly shaped it is and if you were painting it the trunk wouldn’t be brown but probably a darker form of green brown.

The fuzzy tree is there to show how it doesn’t have to be crisp and clear to paint from it, and perhaps it’s better because then you aren’t tempted to get bogged down in leaf detail which is really unnecessary and looks less professional to include.  See how those sky holes are very different with this tree.  Note how little of the branches you see before the foliage starts.  In some trees that is way more pronounced than in others. Take for example this palo verde tree in glorious spring bloom.

Palo verde in bloom      palo verde closeup

I’m intrigued lately with how to paint a palo verde against the deep blue cloudless skies we’ve had lately, and I’ve worked out a strategy, so stay tuned…on the right is a closeup of the flowers and rather insignificant greenery of the tree.  It’s name means green stick, and its trunk and branches are absolutely green.

So those are my tree thoughts for the day….what do you focus on when you walk?

Thanks for stopping by…

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