Tag Archives: tree

Rest Here Watercolor

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There’s something about an empty bench underneath a gorgeous, shade providing tree… I couldn’t resist.
Here you find rest. The birds sing for you. The leaves cover you from the scorch of the sun. Time slows down a tad. And your mind unclouds. Life goes on around you without your help as it should. It’s healthy to take a time out.

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That’s exactly what I did a few weekends ago at Christ in the Wilderness, a solitude retreat in Stockton, IL.

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The tiny little chapel on the property is open all day and night and perfect for solitude meditation. Every retreatant is given a bandana. If you wish to be alone in the chapel, you tie the bandana to the outside door knob and everyone respects your wishes to be alone.

When I start to feel like my wheels are coming undone and life starts to get hectic, I know it’s time for a retreat.

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Room to Grow American Basswood Drawing

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45°F
Overcast, Fog

Chorus frogs sing in the background. Heavy fog in the air. Moss covers trunks and branches so thick, it’s as if spring is crawling up the trees.

The wind sways low basswood branches causing them to move side to side, like the nodding of the head implying, no.

Steady drizzle now.
There is peace in the trees as they grow their moss…a slow calmness. Slow is nice.

American Basswood

The American Basswood takes advantage of the space when it has room to grow. Lower limbs grow downward and sprawl out far. This particular basswood had many lovely burls and a carpet of moss and lichen covering them.

American Basswood

The drawing in the first picture was done with graphite and pastel pencils on Strathmore Toned Tan paper.

For the Love of Winter Trees

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Winter brings out the true character of a tree, exposing every branch, every twig. It reveals the very essence, divulges hidden secrets, and leaves you in a trance as you try to follow one branch with your eyes…from the trunk to the very tip of its tiniest twig. It’s a challenging maze and no two trees are the same.

It is perhaps that challenge of recreating the spirit of the tree on paper which brings me so much joy, but I can only fully understand it in the wintertime. Exposed and silent, it confesses that spirit and somehow I feel as if I’m communicating with its Creator.

That is the mystery of art. Although done in solitude, you are not alone. Your creativity begins a conversation with nature and with God and the best part is, they speak in return.

This apple tree had the setting sun turn selected twigs a golden yellow, while others blushed with rose, and yet a few had a cobalt glow. A downy woodpecker feasted on the suet cake at the feeder, filling up before twilight. That’s the story it told me.

On another day, I chose to study this mulberry tree by drawing in graphite with branch pencils my daughter gave me for Christmas.

Branch pencil art

Neat pencils! It’s like I’m drawing a branch with a branch.

Branch pencil art

This winter mulberry tree has a hard lean to the right. Most of it’s branches grew from the right side. To the left of the mulberry tree is a thick evergreen tree. There is  struggle for sunlight, resulting in the mulberry’s shape and that’s the story the mulberry tells me.

Let’s go out and paint nature, but more importantly let’s hear the stories nature is trying to tell us. Enjoy.

Let’s Paint a Winter Storm at Night!

The Chicago area has been hit by two significant snow storms since winter started. I love snow. Not only is it soothing to watch as it descends, but it dresses the winter trees in their formal attire. How beautiful. Each and every one dazzles.

So, let’s paint a winter tree during an enchanted nighttime snow storm!

I do not have a reference photo but the technique will work with any deciduous winter tree.

Step1_Winterstorm

Step 1: Draw your tree on a 140lb coldpress watercolor paper with a pencil. My paper size is 6×9. The focal point is the tree itself so in the composition law of thirds, I wanted the tree to fill 2/3 of the paper.

Step2_Winterstorm

Step 2: Using masking fluid, paint where the snow would land on the branches. I covered the tops of almost every branch. Let completely dry. If you do not wait until it is completely dry, you will ruin your brush. You can make sure it is dry by lightly touching it after about 10 minutes.

Step3_Winterstorm

Step 3: We are going to paint the sky wet on wet. Using a 1″ flat brush with clean water, wet the paper in the area of the sky and the tree. Brush right over the dried masking fluid. Make sure you do not skip around and leave dry spots. When the shine on the paper disappears, paint ultramarine blue on top and bottom of sky and mauve in the middle. Let the colors blend and touch. You’re literally laying down a few brush strokes and stepping away. Do not over work this.
While the paper is still wet, sprinkle a little bit of sea salt on the paper and let completely dry. When dry tilt your paper and discard the salt.

Step4_Winterstorm

Step 4: Paint the tree starting at the bottom and work your way up. I used a medium round brush. If you look at the base of the tree I started with a mixture of sepia and ultramarine. As I work my way up, I added mauve to that sepia/ultramarine mixture, then viridian green, lastly at the top alizarin crimson.
Using a small round brush, paint in smaller branches repeating the colors we already used.

Step5_Winterstorm

Step 5: Rub the masking fluid off with your finger. Paint shadows under the tree using the same sky color on top.

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Step 6 Final: Using a small round brush paint a light mixture (meaning less pigment and more water) of prussian blue where the snow touches the branches, making a fine line. This is the shadow color of the snow on the tree.
When everything is dry, take a #3 black micron pen and draw tiny branches/twigs coming from the small branches. Outline the trunk and main branches of the tree to make it stand out.

I hope you enjoyed this free step-by-step demonstration of how to paint a nighttime winter snowstorm.

If you would like to purchase a greeting card ($4.95) or archival print click below. Thank you!
Art Prints

Rain and a Glimpse of Autumn Sketch

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08-28-2016 (Sun)
88°F
Rain. Beautiful rain.

Straight down it was…no meandering, no skewing, no divergence, no wind. Tapping on leaves in trees creates a sound as if hundreds are clapping. My spirit is clapping.

I try to hear splashes in the puddles but cannot. The clapping overtakes the moment and I get lost in the mystery of His design.

And a few more leaves change colors.