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How to Paint a leafy Tree and Pine Tree.

I like to paint trees, but I didn’t at first. They all looked alike. first, the all had brown trunks and the same color leaves. This changed as I realized there are all kinds of trees out there. When I was a kid my favorite climbing tree was a pine tree. Once you got inside next to the truck, it was like climbing a ladder or stairway up to the top. We had several and when my parents would go to town they told us “To stay out of those trees. ” But as soon as we were sure they were gone, up we would go being careful not to damage them. Each branch became just that much higher. First, the left then the right, with the trunk between. I could climb all the way up to the top.

My second favorite tree was an Oak tree.  It was because my Mom built my brother a tree stand next to one. She put a rail around it so we couldn’t fall. But it was harder to climb. The limbs are so far apart that a girl with not so strong arms could not keep up with a brother. I have seen a lot of birch trees. With their nearly white bark with black scares upon them. And they rose quite high before the branches would poke out. Not strong enough for me to climb. The willow tree if big enough would make like a fort with the branches going up then turning down with leaves that danced across the ground. My Dad hated them because he said they made such a mess every fall with their big long leaves dead on the ground. But my Mom and I loved them. We thought they were beautiful.

I think I like to paint evergreens the best. There are so many different kinds that you can not paint them wrong. You start at the top and make little marks like. One on the top and one on each side. Then work your way down, one side then the next skipping around just a bit. Going first towards the sky the straight out to the horizon. Making a few more dots[ branches] down would you go.  Then on some of them, you would start pointing the branches down a bit the longer and fluffier they got. You’d have to put some in front too or that part will look naked.  Keep going until you hit the ground. They are very dark green or blue-green. These were the ones Dad would out into the woods and get for a Christmas tree. His favorite was blue spruce.

The hardest one of all is the old Oak Tree.  They were so tall they would hit the clouds. So bushy and green on top with a couple of different shades of green leaves. And acorns here and there. Some years there were tons of big acorns that fell in fall for the animals to feast on during the winter months. Other years they all seemed to get knocked off early in the summer by wind and hail storms. Squirrels loved to hang around the oak tree. and birds galore.

Then there is an aspen tree. we didn’t get to me a lot of them in our neck of the woods.  They grew fast and companies always chopped them down and hauled the trucks off to make paper out of them.  I guess that is all I can remember, of the different trees. But to paint them is a lot different.  I look them up on the internet. There are not as many trees around anymore. And nome as big as they use to be.


Here we go to Paint! So you have your practice paper out and about 3 shades of green, white, and a couple of shades of brown, light, and dark. I will leave some link at the bottom of the page to give you an Idea of what you need. Start by just taking your round or flat brush. The size depends on how large you want the tree to be. Start at the bottom and paint a line up for a tree truck. If it isn’t totally straight, that is fine. Not all trees are straight, most are more organic in shape. Then place 3 or 4 branches coming out from it. A tree comes up and the branches are in a big Y shape. They open up inside to welcome the sun. Now get out your liner brush and using darkest brown start at the branches and wiggle secondary branches out from that. These branches will tell you where you are going to place leaves. Add more tiny branches off of those if you desire.

Now get a heavy bristle brush out. One that is not perfect and will leave paint scattered around. Using your darkest green scatter leaves around the branches and trunk, just tapping them in here and there. Leave many areas where the sky would show through. Does it kinda look like a tree? Using the same brush, clean it off and using the medium green [ if you don’t have a medium, mix some white in the lighten your dark green]  do the same thing. This time decide which way your light is coming through. This color will cover a lot of the darker green but not all of it. Don’t overdo it, sometimes less is perfect. Now you can switch to a smaller brush Very similar to the last. This is the high light stage. us a light green if you don’t have it mix it. gently apply this highlights remembering you the light source. putting light on that side and any front branches that would still see the light. This gives it more dimension. Do you still have some light showing through your tree? You can go back with the background color and tap some in. If you want more highlights use just a dab of white and yellow, use this very sparingly.

It is time to work on the trunk. When we painted it, we used dark brown. We all know the trunks have color. There are lighter brown, maybe some moss growing on the north side. Some holes from woodpeckers are some times there. So taking your liner brush make little lines with it and the lighter brown. Your imagination comes in handy now. and if that doesn’t work try googling tree trunks or tree bark. The more you paint trees the better they will look. remember trees are not perfect. Everyone differs in the shape and the branches. What I do is go back while I am working on the truck. And add a few little branches sticking out here and there without leaves. If a tree is very close up and a person standing and looking at the painting would see the bark texture. Then I look up what the bark of that tree would look like and add the texture and high lights to it.

Heavy Body Acrylic Paint, Hookers Green Deep

Heavy Body Acrylic Paint, Hookers Green Deep

Now we will paint a pine tree. These are so much easier for me at least. Same colors and brushes. Put in the truck making sure it is the right size for the location on the painting. Remember perspective. Paint your truck the same way you did for the other tree. Pine tree trucks start out big and slowly become slimmer and small at the top. Get out your dark green and liner brush. Tap in a few dots in aline for the tippy top. Then repeat only going out the sides but reaching slightly for the sky. do more with your liner brush until you would feel comfy using a flatter brush. They reach for the sky and have tiny little branches coming off of them. the branches get a little longer each time you make one. You should be able to use a flat brush by now. Continue the same taping and making lines for branches and making branches off of the branches. Typically they only branch off the branch once. Don’t forget the branches that come forward. They are the hardest to do. But take your time. There you are at the bottom. Didn’t you ever think you would get there? A lot of pine trees are missing branches here and there. But none are as wacky as the Jack Pine. Like the one on the top left-hand side. They are a blast to paint. The branches come out straight and may be there or missing. Or long or broken off short. And the branch does not come all the way down. Usually where I live, in a mature grove, you can easily walk underneath. and other things do not grow under them because they make their own mulch bu dropping pine needles and they are long. Not short like other pines. I use to make baskets out of these pine needles. It was a lot of work. But the turn out beautiful.

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Well, we are here at the end. I hope you could understand it. Run through it a couple of times. Or find another source of a tutorial. It may help if it is more visual. Ask your questions below. Leave comments or share it with someone who may enjoy it.          Thank You, Laura

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