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Painting a Tree in Autumn

In this lesson we demonstrate the process of painting a tree lit by the golden hues of an autumn twilight.

  • Painting a Tree in Autumn
 
 
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Our slide show illustrates a step-by-step process for painting a tree ablaze in the glow of an autumn sunset.

  • When you begin a painting, an organized method of approach is important as it helps you to tackle the work with some degree of control and confidence. Our slide show guides you through such an approach that you may adapt to your own style and technique.

Painting a Tree in Autumn - Step 1

Painting a Tree in Autumn - Step 1

If you want to paint a tree in any season, it helps to add some context with a relevant background that identifies the climatic conditions of that time of year. This starts with the sky which establishes the mood of the painting.

  • To begin with we have painted our background a blue/green as the color of the sky shifts with the oncoming sunset.

Painting a Tree in Autumn - Step 2

Painting a Tree in Autumn - Step 2

Next, we have blended some soft orange/yellow clouds which catch the setting sunlight from the left. We have darkened the tops of these clouds to add some depth and form.

Painting a Tree in Autumn - Step 3

Painting a Tree in Autumn - Step 3

To complete the sky, we have scumbled the definition of the clouds to enhance their atmospheric effect.

Painting a Tree in Autumn - Step 4

Painting a Tree in Autumn - Step 4

On painting the grassy foreground we have darkened its color and altered its normal hue.

  • Instead of using a conventional green, it has been changed to a warm brown to suggest the fading light and sun-baked color as darkness descends.

  • We have also blended a golden glow on the right of the horizon to add a dramatic contrast of tones between the sky and the foreground, and to capture the final rays of sunshine before the setting of the sun.

Painting a Tree in Autumn - Step 5

Painting a Tree in Autumn - Step 5

Next, we have added some lush pasture to emphasise the grassy texture of the foreground.

  • Great care has been taken here to gradually reduce the size of the brushstrokes as they recede towards the horizon in order to convey the atmospheric depth (aerial perspective) of the field.

Painting a Tree in Autumn - Step 6

Painting a Tree in Autumn - Step 6

A fter painting the foreground and background, it is time to paint our tree.

  • For a detailed account of how we built up the flat image of this tree please look at our page on painting a tree.

Painting a Tree in Autumn - Step 7

Painting a Tree in Autumn - Step 7

The addition of light and shade to the trunk and branches establishes the volume of the tree and sets it firmly in the landscape.

  • The color used to highlight the form of the tree is drawn from the warmer colors of the sky so that the tree sits naturally in its environment.

Painting a Tree in Autumn - Step 8

Painting a Tree in Autumn - Step 8

When we apply the initial layer of leaves, we keep their autumn colors as bright as possible. The addition of darker colors would dull the flaming orange that we associate with the beauty of autumn.

  • As many of the leaves are dying and falling to the ground, those that remain on the tree should be moderately distributed, allowing you to see more of the branches.

  • Those leaves that have fallen to the ground form a concentrated ellipse of autumn colors that gradually disperses as they move out from the tree.

Painting a Tree in Autumn - Step 9

Painting a Tree in Autumn - Step 9

Although we need to apply some shading to add form to the foliage, it is important not to overwhelm the radiance of the autumn leaves by making this too dark.

  • When color is the most important element that you wish to establish, the addition of too much tone will neutralise its intensity.

Painting a Tree in Autumn - Step 10

Painting a Tree in Autumn - Step 10

Finally, the addition of a shadow ties the tree down to the ground, creates a visual lead into the painting, and enriches the overall effect of the sunset.

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