Each Tuesday I will post some artistic ideas that hopefully some of you will be enthused about. I’ll try to make them accessible to a wide age range and PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE send me pictures of your artwork so that I can put them on the website.
This week we are going to focus on the subject of Winter Trees. I will give some advice on how you can create a wonderful watercolour painting (or poster paint if you don’t have watercolours). Alternatively, you might like to take a photograph of winter trees when you go out on a walk.
Paint a light watercolour ‘wash’ on a piece of cartridge paper (or watercolour paper if you have some). This could be either ‘portrait’ or ‘landscape.’ I would suggest portrait, because trees are generally tall and portrait would work better. However, if you wanted to paint a line of trees then you might prefer to choose a landscape layout.
Try to make the background look ‘wintery’. I’ve included streaks of yellow and a few touches of pink. Keep the ‘wash’ quite thin to start with, you could always add an extra layer of colour if you feel the colours are too thin. You might go for orangy/yellows and try to capture the colours of a winter sunrise or sunset.
Print off a picture of a winter tree (I found several on the Internet) and cut out a small square. You want the square to include some slightly thicker branches as well as some thinner (twig-like) branches. Blu-tac your tree-square into place. (I put this square about two-thirds of the way up, and slightly over to the right because the branches look as if they’re on the right side of the tree.) THIS TREE-SQUARE IS A FANTASTIC STARTING POINT!
Continue one or two of the branches (going upwards into the sky). If you look at trees you’ll see that branches tend to ‘fork.’ As they fork they get thinner. Then they fork again and get even thinner! Look at the example below and notice how they get fainter as they thin. You can press really lightly for the thinnest branches so that they look like a light scratch on the paper.
Extend the branches upwards and then extend branches DOWNWARDS to create a thicker trunk. Look at the way I have added a few lines at the bottom to suggest roots. As the branches merge downwards they often become about twice as thick each time two branches merge.
Take off your original tree-square that helped you to start with. You will now have a square space in your picture!
You can now join up your branches in the missing tree-square space. Then paint black lines over your pencil drawing of the branches. Keep the paint quite thin as black is a very powerful colour and can spoil your picture if you put it on too thickly. Use a THIN paint brush.
Add some shadowy touches under the tree. (See below) I’ve used purple but you can choose your own colour/s. A bluey/grey can also be very effective for that ‘wintery’ feel!
Send your favourite photograph of a winter tree. You might capture a tree (or trees) with a glorious sunset or sunrise, or you might take it from a strange angle (eg from underneath looking up). You may choose to photograph a whole group of winter trees, or you may focus on a single tree, or you could take a close up of an interesting part of a tree.
Maybe you could capture a tree on a frosty morning. (Even better if we had a fluttering of snow!) There are some interesting trees as you walk down Kingshill Avenue, where many of the trees still have a single bauble hanging on their bare branches.
As with the watercolours, send your photographs to me (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Here are a few beautiful pictures of winter trees to maybe give you some ideas!