How to Paint Bare Trees

Written by elise stall
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How to Paint Bare Trees
You can paint a realistic, bare tree using different colours of paint and shading techniques. ( Images)

Painting a bare tree can be as simple as choosing a plain brown paint colour and painting a line for a trunk and a bunch of sticks sprouting out of it. On the other hand, painting a realistic tree can take several different shades of colours and shading techniques to create the texture of the bark and shadows on the branches. Every artist is different and has his or her own unique style of painting, but some of the real secrets to painting bare trees often rely on a true understanding of the tree's structure and the proper knowledge of different species. Even without leaves, it is entirely possible to create beautifully bare trees set in the autumn or winter season using some paint, a paintbrush, and a blank canvas for your art.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Paint colours
  • Paint palette
  • Paintbrush
  • Canvas and easel

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  1. 1

    Choose the type of tree that you would like to paint. If possible, go outside during the autumn or winter months when trees are bare so you can gather a physical comprehension of the tree's visual composition. You can also perform a search online for the type of tree you want to paint and print out photos to familiarise yourself with the tree's unique characteristics.

  2. 2

    Compile a file with photos, notes and pieces of bark if possible. Identify the overall shape of the tree by determining if it is mostly shaped like a sphere, umbrella, cone, or an irregular shape. Study the branches of the tree, including the patterns in which they grow and spread out from the trunk.

  3. 3

    Choose an appropriate brownish colour that is not too light or too dark to use as the base colour for the tree. Dip your paintbrush into the paint and position the paintbrush as flat as possible against the canvas to control the brushstrokes.

  4. 4

    Break up sections of the tree and start by painting a vertical line downward as the trunk of the tree. You can taper the trunk from top to bottom this way or paint trunks using sideways brushstrokes to add more character and texture.

  5. 5

    Position your paintbrush at the top of the trunk and draw crooked and uneven branches slowly outward from the top of the tree trunk and out of the sides trunk as well . Avoid making the tree branches look symmetrical to one another, since natural tree branches grow in an irregular way. Remember that the base of each branch should be thicker and grow thinner as it extends to the tip.

  6. 6

    Paint branches crossing over each other to create depth. Determine from which side you want to create a direction of sunlight and use lighter colour to paint shades of light on the appropriate angles of the branches and trunk.

  7. 7

    Dip your paintbrush in a colour that is noticeably darker than your first colour and apply shaded brushstrokes and lines to the angles of the branches and trunk that are opposite of where the light is coming from. This creates a shadow effect.

  8. 8

    Apply detail, such as finer bark patterns, smaller branches on existing branches or buds on the bare tree, by using different colours and a paintbrush with a fine tip.

  9. 9

    Allow your painting to dry and make adjustments or add extra detail where necessary.

Tips and warnings

  • Remember that wet paint dries to a lighter shade. If possible, practice using different shades of paint on a piece of paper first and let them dry so you know exactly what shades you need to use.
  • Paint can stain your clothing. Wear an old shirt or smock to avoid ruining your clothes.

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