Painting Autumn Trees

in #artlast year

I love painting small art works on wooden gessoed panels, they are really fun to paint and it's a lovely surface to work on. Quite often my small paintings will serve as colour studies for bigger art works but I will often paint a small painting, a little gem, purely for the joy of painting it.

If you are learning to paint, small paintings are a great way to improve your painting skills more quickly and they are much less intimidating than larger art works. They are also quicker to produce and look great in small frames.

In this blog post I will show you how I painted this small art work of autumn trees which were growing by the Arrow River in Arrowtown, New Zealand. This was also a Lord of the Rings film location.

Autumn Trees, 8" x 10", oil on wooden panel.

This was one of the reference photos I used, the light was amazing...I had to paint it!!!!

Whenever I block in a painting I will try and do this in one sitting. As always I started with a burnt sienna base like the old masters used to do with their landscape paintings. 

When blocking in I'm not overly concerned about detail, I just want to get the basic shapes, colours and tones in. It almost serves as a map, a base to work on so I can start building up the detail.

Once dry, I start to add more layers of paint and create some detail. I use a desaturated green for the distant trees on the hill to make it recede in the painting. I mix ultramarine blue, yellow oxide and titanium white primarily, also adding the odd bit of burnt sienna to earth it a little.

I start building up the detail in the trees and I increase the saturation of my greens. I take the mixture I had for the distant trees on the hill but then I start introducing cadmium yellow deep, pthalo green and a little quinacridone magenta. 

I start working on the reflections of the water, I want the eye to lead to the trees in light in the midground.

I paint in the refections from the sky and trees in the water and start building up the detail of the foliage and grass on the right side of the painting. I'm using a much darker green by adding more quinacridone magenta and ultramarine blue into the mix. 

I keep in mind the overall tonality of my painting, the darkest masses are in the foreground.

I paint the foliage in the tree on the right, this tree is in shadow but there is lots of reflected light in the foliage so I am still able to paint some rich dark greens in the tree. The dark mass of the tree helps to focus the attention of the trees in light in the distance.

Finally I add the finishing touches to the painting, last little bits of detail and my lightest tones which I have saved until last.

If you would like to see more of my art work check out my website.

Check out my painting tutorial videos by following me on YouTube and LBRY

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