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A Study in Trees


After spending some time quick sketching trees yesterday, I broke out my art books and went for a couple of walks with Tamara where we studied and discussed trees.

Art, like anything else, is a discipline that takes time and study. While a person has to have some innate talent from which to forge their work, the "how" of it all is a matter of looking at real life, looking within oneself, and looking at others to see how they do it.

So I rounded up some variety in rendering trees. What follows are ways in which various artists, both famous and not so famous, have painted trees. Kinda cool to see them all together. (I'll continue my own stutdies and spend more time practicing, and post the results later.)

Bordighera - by Claude Monet

Look at how he layered it up, from the background cerulean sky, moving into darker blues, then deep purple for shadows, then lighter colors, painting each leaf.

Cascade Barn - by Richard Schmid

Schmid is an amazing teacher. He normally paints with brush, but used only knife in this painting. Notice the striations of straight colors - little mixing in parts. I've used that technique in some of my paintings, and I like it a great deal. It's a wonderful way to get vibrant colors for the eye to mix.

A Place on the Pamet - by Charles Sovek

Sovek is a fairly well-known northeastern artist. His use of color and line is so carefree. Look particularly at the tall tree on the left and the color within it throughout.

Autumn Road - by David R. Becker

Becker is my favorite watercolorist, and he is a master. There's not a bit of green in the tree - you can just feel the sunlight in the leaves. Notice the pencil lines he has in his work in the upper left of the tree. That kind of simple texture is perfect. Now notice it throughout the the rest of the work.

Palm Desert - by Kevin Macpherson

Macpherson does some great landscape work. The trees have a wonderful range of value and color, and his sense of light is quite good.

Golden Tree - by William Bowyer

Bowyer is unafraid to use strong black shadows to give his trees depth. I don't find that in many other artists.

Anticipating Connecticut - by Mary Green LaForge

Terrific abstraction. Almost vague, but somehow you know it's a portrait of fall foliage.

El Grande - by Harley Brown

Cowboy artist Harley Brown paints the periphery of his paintings without much detail to approximate what we actually see: great detail at the focal point of our vision and fuzziness at the sides. His trees are never sharp, but loose and airy. (Look at how real those columns in that arch appear... that's rich stuff.)

The Mulberry Tree - by Vincent Van Gogh

And of course, the surreal emotion and color of Van Gogh. The tree bursts with vitality, almost aflame. Take note of how the ground lacks color to draw you into the leaves.

Everyone does it different. Pretty fun to see all of this in study.


by Brett Rogers, 5/6/2007 11:08:15 PM


This is the first time I have come across your blog. I really enjoyed the quick break in my day to admire some wonderful art. Thanks!



Posted by Art Dinkin, 5/7/2007 5:51:53 PM

Wow! I just discovered you. Thank you for the tree treat!



Posted by GloBug, 10/10/2015 11:17:03 AM

Nice to celebrate some of my favorite artists here with you. Thank you for your blog!



Posted by Ana Monaghan (, 3/6/2020 7:57:46 AM

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