Tips on Painting Trees, Leaves & Bushes

Written by paul rance
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Tips on Painting Trees, Leaves & Bushes
The beauty of a leaf will be more noticeable when studied for an art project. (Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Some subjects are more interesting to paint than others, and trees and bushes definitely come into the more interesting category. This is mainly due to seasonal changes. The appearance of many trees and shrubs, over the course of a year, can look markedly different from one season to the next. For an artist, these changes makes trees and shrubs an interesting subject to paint all year round.

Painting Leaves

Find several different types of leaves to first draw and then paint. Pick leaves from both bushes and trees. The leaves should be varied in colour, size and shape. Make an accurate drawing of each individual leaf on a sheet of paper. Each leaf should be placed flat, and in a vertical position, for this purpose. Next, paint the outline of one leaf at a time. Following on from this, paint the colour of the leaves. Achieve this by painting the lightest shades to begin with, and ending with the darkest shades. Finish the painting off by painting the veins of each leaf.

Painting a Bush and Tree

Paint a bush and tree together. This will help you to gain an appreciation of the differences in structure of these two natural objects. Select a bush and tree to paint which are both next to each other and which display a lot of colour. The colours should also complement each other. Always begin with a drawing of each of these objects from the base upwards. Do likewise with the painting. Paint the outline of the tree and bush, and next add light and shade. Add the foliage or blossom last of all. This should be done with flicks of the brush, which will give the objects life on the paper.

A Landscape or Garden Setting

Create a painting of trees and bushes in a large setting. This should be attempted after you have practised painting a tree and bush together. The large setting can either be a garden or a landscape view. This type of setting will help you to realise the importance of perspective in painting. It will help you to understand how to paint the different sizes of trees and bushes, made bigger or smaller by perspective.

Recognising Subtle Differences

Observe the subtle differences in light and shade and colour on trees and bushes. Look for this in leaves, blossom, branches and twigs. Getting the structure right in the painting of trees and bushes is one thing, but the correct use of light and shade and colour is just as important. Practice painting trees and bushes from different distances. This will help to attune you more with painting these natural objects, and help you understand the differences distance brings to them.

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