I never noticed how much I love trees until I realized I paint them all the time. Trees are expressive, captivating and evocative. They symbolize strength, life, spirituality, magic and protection.
They are fascinating as models.
Lately, I’ve been experimenting with different ways to capture trees in all their beauty. To the right is an example of a tree painted in abstract with Sennelier oil bars.
The tree is a real tree growing in Prairie Grove, Arkansas. When I saw this tree, the sky was a clear blue on a cold February day. Cows grazed nearby, just beyond the tree.
To paint this tree in a Mondrian style, I limited the color pallet and kept my strokes concise but expressive. I also kept the strokes limited to either vertical or horizontal movements. The inspiration for this tree is “Evening; Red Tree” (1908-1910) by Piet Mondrian. (This painting is for sale on Etsy.)
For “Dusk,” (right) I used mixed media of watercolor (Sennieler,) marker, ink and oil pastel. The painting is a rendering in abstract realism but using a scene I saw in a dream.
The painting also has symbolism embedded into the piece. The dark trees and the light trees each represent a pillar of knowledge, similar to what you might see in the High Priestess Tarot card.
The white trees were masked and color was painted on in layers across the first three-quarters. I then dropped in vibrant yellow and red. The technique allowed the colors to naturally blend together along the bottom.
Again, in this painting, I limited the colors used to really create a vibrant and deep painting. This painting sold during a show earlier this year.
To the left, I used watercolor with a limited color palette to capture a sunset. I then used a hashing stroke with my paint brush to create the effect of moving leaves in the tree.
This painting is somewhat surreal because of the very intense colors, but those colors are accurate of Arkansas sunsets in October. This tree is located in a park in Springdale, Arkansas.
Trees are not always bright and playful. Sometimes they are dark and disturbing and foreboding. These dark trees create mystery and, often, death.
The “Gothic Tree” (below) is rendered on an old broken-out mirror. To achieve the reflective “mirror” quality (Think “Snow White,”) I primed the back and stained it with blue acrylic. Then, I used a painting knife to paint the metallic acrylic paint as the base. The shiny base is meant to showcase the “mirror” quality. (Mirrors often symbolize magic and inner thoughts.) I then limited the tree itself to three colors: black, red and blue. The limited color scheme adds to the darkness and creates harmony in the painting.
This painting is based on trees that grow in windy and difficult conditions. These are tenacious trees that survive no matter what. Pretty apt for 2016, right?