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Drawing Trees Week 6: In Open Countryside

March 30, 2022

A Steep sided Valley at Hubberholme, North Yorkshire
Photo by Jo

This week we are painting trees from a distance, perhaps a view from a window or from the ridge of a hill looking down on a wooded valley. Instead of being in a wood we are out in the open, looking down or up, to a wooded area or group of trees. The sides of the hills in the photo above are well grazed by sheep and the group of tall ash trees takes centre stage.

The challenge this week is to make a painting of trees in the landscape. Although the word is land-scape I prefer to split it rather differently to labour an important point. I like to think of the vegetation including trees becoming the cape or mantle clothing the lands, hence it is a good idea to establish the topography of the land before clothing it with forests or groups of trees.

It is also essential to make a note of the light conditions. In the example above light is falling very strongly from the left lighting up the slope on the right. The steep sided slopes would look entirely different if the light were from a different direction or on a dull day when the light is more diffuse. The most challenging weather, especially when painting outside, is a bright breezy day when clouds are scudding across the sky casting fast moving shadows as they pass.

Below are a few more of Jo’s photos giving examples of the sort of reference you may like to work from.

Looking down on a Wood in Upper Wharfedale, North Yorkshire

See how the cloud shadows are falling on the land, and how dark in tone the area of woodland appears.
The same view as above but cropped differently. Think about how you may like to crop your reference for maximum impact. In this crop the gap between the trees where the road passes through becomes the focal point. What do you want to make the focal point of your composition? This is best established by making thumbnail tonal sketches before launching into the final work.
Looking down on a meander in Upper Wharfedale.
Note the diffuse light and soft shadows under the trees.
Towards the Langdales
See how individual trees can be seen in the foreground and those in the distance become more of a texture. Here it is very clear to see the importance of establishing the land forms first before working on the groups of trees in the foreground.
Sun and Mist at Pietracervara in the Parma Apennines
Seen early morning from my window.
Early Morning Mist Pietracervara
A slightly different view; the misty effects in both could be achieved by gentle washes and lifting out in watercolour.
Cloud shadows on the Apennines at Pianiletto
Across the Apennines from Pianiletto
Fresh greens and the last of the cherry blossom
Woodlands below Pianiletto
Coming to grips with the underlying slope into the valley here is more difficult so here I would concentrate on the rich textures and different hues and tones of this wonderfully mixed woodland. Greens dominate, but there is also yellow, russet, silvery and greenish grays, and slightly lilac tints with deep contrasts of dark trunks and spangled white; another tapestry of vegetation.

The images above should provide ideas for working from your own reference. Best would be from a place you have walked in or visited.

Your paintings;

Wind on the Meadow
Pastel by Maryon
Beyond the Trees
Acrylic by Mali
Tracks, Gates and Distant Trees
Watercolour by Heather
Deer and Trees at Windsor
Watercolour by Maricarmen
Ascot Heath
Watercolour by Sarah
Overlooking the Valley
Watercolour by Ann
Valley with Lake
Pastel by Anne C
Looking down the Loch
by Kate
Castle in the Woods
Watercolour by Liz
Below the forest: Glenbranter House 1
Watercolour by Virginia
Below the Forest: Glenbranter House 2
Watercolour by Virginia

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