Mighty Oak Watercolor

Over the weekend as I went hiking, I came upon this beautiful specimen. Isn’t it mighty? Even with absolutely no leaves it has an impact. It’s skeleton tells the story of strength. I don’t know how old this oak tree is but it sure is gigantic. What can it teach me…

Mighty Oak Watercolor

 Why, this oak had much to teach me through sketching and painting. As I placed the graphite to the watercolor paper I marveled at how long and thick the branches were and how short and stubby the twigs were on my paper. I always knew that when looking at an oak, but I never officially appreciated it until I had to draw it.

The most important revelation I had while painting was discovering how to successfully portray a 3-D looking tree as opposed to a flat 2 dimensional looking tree that you often find in paintings. Here is the secret….nobody is paying me to tell you…I make no money off this site…this is a free gift…this is HUGE…

The secret is in the sun.

This painting took me about 2 hours to paint. As I started I immediately noticed that many of the branches looked black and about 20% of the branches were a very light brown. By the time I was almost finished most of the branches were light brown and only a few were black. Why? Because the earth had continued to rotate and didn’t wait for me to finish, causing the tree to be in a different position, and the sun to cast light on different branches.

Two dimensional trees you see in some paintings have the light coming in one direction and the shadow in the opposite direction. No! Don’t fall into that trap! The branches closest to you are catching sunlight as well.

If you keep that in mind when looking at a tree, no matter how impressionistic you like to paint, it will look very realistic!

You’re welcome.

America needs more creative art. Our society is programing us to be the work horse for a profitable select few. I’m not a crazy person, but this is what I see all around. My wish is that more people can break out of the “mold” and share their talent. You have it…it might have been pushed down or discouraged because a monetary value could not be set on your talent, but you have it. Please practice it and share it with us. We need it.


  1. Wow–great painting! And thanks for the reminder. I need it constantly. Draw/paint what you see. No, what you really see. Not what you “know” is there . . . what you SEE. Most of art, I think, is in learning to really see.

    Love, Cindy

  2. Cindy: Thank you! Yes…it’s hard to really see something and get it down on paper too without your subconcious messing it up. Not an easy thing to do!

    Joan: Thanks! I agree totally, if I had taken a picture of that tree and went home to paint, I would not have seen all the other branches light up by the sun after an hour or so. I think we can learn a great deal more by actually being there then painting from pictures.

    Terry: Thanks for stopping by and I LOVE your watercolor and ink painting! You have a terrific style 😀

  3. I SOOO agree with that last paragraph. Modern society certainly doesn’t value art like they did in the past. WalMart & the like don’t help, either. I was saddened to read (in Sunshine Artist,) that most of the thefts from art markets are money or tools. It makes sense, of course, but it’s still quite a bummer.

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