Tree Sketch – Evolution Series – Feb 2011
The wooded landscape across the street from our home is intriguing.
It offers such depth, I haven’t been quite sure how to capture the trees as well as the colorful skies behind them, especially in the afternoon.
In early January, I tried a quick sketch in oils. That’s it on the lower right.
It was an okay sketch, but nothing great.
Two weeks ago, during an experiment with eBay art auctions, I decided to try selling that sketch for $5. My thought was, “It’s an original oil painting. A real one. Surely it’s worth as much as a meal at McD’s.”
Well, it didn’t sell. Pout.
So, on Sunday afternoon (13 Feb 2011), I decided to paint over it. The colors were good and I wanted to keep the general composition, but I could see that it needed more oomph.
Previously, I’d painted the same scene with a slightly different technique. (That’s Sunlight in the Trees – 11 Feb 2011.) I really liked how that one turned out.
The earlier tree sketch, displayed nearby… well, it just looked silly in contrast. I wasn’t happy with it.
So, I placed the January sketch (shown at right) on my easel and began some radical revisions.
I wasn’t going to paint over the whole sketch… just improve it.
My plan was to try the opposite of my Sunlight in the Trees technique: That is, I’d paint the light first, and then paint the trees over it.
I started with the snow in the foreground. That needed more light and color. I painted over the lower tree trunks and the snow.
After that, I worked on the sky… more variety to the color, and generally more white.
Next, I scrubbed in greens and blues with some orange-ish accents, to suggest the hills in the background.
At that point, all I had left from the original work were the upper portion of the tree trunks. I wanted to leave most of them as references, since I’d planned to restore their branches after the background colors dried.
(If you compare the two versions of this painting, you may see the same tree trunks in both. All I did was shorten them and alter the contrast in the current revision.)
However, as I brought the hill colors down to the tree trunks and started filling in the glow of the sun as it set… well, a different vista emerged… a fantasy landscape.
The hills became the trees, and I emphasized the varied treetops. I also added contrast and light. Alternately, I’d blob colors on with a bristle brush, and then smooth it into the landscape with a (soft) sable brush.
I began to fall in love with this revised painting, shown at the top of this article.
Though the painting isn’t completed yet, I’m pleased enough to post it here and show you how it’s evolving.
This also reveals the way that one painting (Sunlight in the Trees) can influence other, related artwork.
This tree sketch is an 8″ x 10″ oil painting on canvas board, and it’s the latest in my “Evolution” series in which I paint over parts of existing works — often making radical revisions — to improve them.