I start by stretching a sheet of sketch paper over a backing, using masking tape. The paper I am using is only 120 gsm. Normally this would be too light weight for watercolors, but the technique calls for using a very dry brush and therefore the paper will not warp or buckle when the watercolors are applied.
Instead of using watercolor paints, I will be using Derwent Inktense Blocks in much the same way as watercolor pans.
I will be using a dry brush technique and will continually be dabbing the brush dry on a paper towel, so be sure to keep one handy. This is what mine looked like at the end of the painting.
I start with a bright green as the middle tone for the today's tree painting.
After dabbing the brush dry on a paper towel, I touch the paper very lightly with the tips of the bristles. This leaves a stippled, semi-circular pattern on the paper. Group these in clusters, as leaves often grow in clusters on trees, since they are attached to branches that separated the clusters from each other.
Finding the first color very light and sunny, I select a darker green for the second color to add shadow to the leaves.
I once again simply dab the tip of the brush to the paper.
Now I select a bright yellow to add vibrant sunlight to the leaves.
The same technique is used to add this color.
My last color adds a surprise element. There are plenty of trees in nature that has surprising color schemes. Even though I did not set out to paint a Jacaranda, it occurred to me that I could show you how to easily add purple to the tree to create the impression of those thousands of purple flowers that adorn the beautiful signature trees. If I were to develop this idea fully, I would add shades of purple, and even blue to the tree. As it is, the tree canopy is already full and I'll simply leave you with this introduction to the idea.
The purple is also dabbed on with the tip of the brush. I would probably opt to use both a Filbert and a Fan brush when painting a tree like the Jacaranda. Perhaps some of you would like to share your ideas in the comments?
With the tree canopy in place, I now switch to a round brush with long bristles. It has to have a finely tapered point to be successful.
I pick up a dark grey to paint the tree trunk and branches.
I use broken and wavy lines to paint the trunk and branches. The broken areas will create the impression of light reflecting off the branches.
I then use a dark brown to introduce a softer shade to the trunk, creating a side that is hit by the light source. Remember to add some roots to anchor the tree to the ground, or it will appear to be floating in space.
I switch back to the fan brush from before to show you quickly how to paint wild waving grass. I pick up a bright green to start with.
Grass grows in clusters and in all directions. Keep this in mind when painting it. Touch the paper lightly with the tip of the brush and sweep upwards in quick short movements.
Alternate the direction in which you are painting constantly so the grass will lie cross each other.
The second color I choose is a darker green that will add shadow to the grass.
I then opt for a reddish brown color to include some dry grasses.
I keep adding all of the colors in exactly the same fashion as the first color, with short upward sweeps of the brush.
Lastly I add a dark blue for the deeper shadows in the grass.
In no time at all you will find that you have painted a very believable tree. Now, find yourself a good reference photo of an actual tree (or a live specimen), and use these techniques to paint the tree, paying close attention to the shapes on the tree. Different species of trees have very distinct attributes and you should pay close attention to these. Above all, enjoy what you are doing!
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