For some reason I had never given this tree at the edge of the parking lot of my office a second look. But today I parked right in front of it, and the way the sunlight fell on the trunk and the branches was such an intriguing sight that I took several pics of it the next day.
My first decision was which medium I would choose for this tree. First I thought I would make a drawing of India ink. My drawing paper was much too small, so here I went to the store to buy paper that was 18 x 24 inches.
When I returned home it was not long before it occurred to me that this tree had red flowers, so oil , pastel, and watercolor would be better suited for this tree. I chose watercolor because I would have more control in watercolor with the weird angles of some branches.
This is not a tree for beginners! With such a complicated tree I felt that I first needed to make sure I liked the trunk I would paint. Since this whole tree has an odd shape, and my watercolor paper is 22 x 30 inches, I elongated the trunk. Also, I exaggerated the color difference of the left trunk and the right part of the trunk. When you click on this pic, you see the markings on the trunk better.
Painting leaves of such a large crown is in my opinion done easier with the wet-in-wet method. By that I mean that I wet the paper, and then paint with a wet brush over it. This way colors mingle on the paper and boundaries are very blurry. This would provide a good background for the leaves. I was glad I had my expensive (NOT) plant mister to water this tree many times:).
Watercolor has a disadvantage. On cannot go with a light color over a dark color. So I first used liquifilm, which looks like runny glue. On the photo above the liquifilm are those shiny places on the paper. When one puts it on the paper with a brush or a twig, it dries, and then dark colors can be painted over it. When the time comes that the light color needs to be put in place, all one has to do is peel off the liquifilm.
Painting the leaves of this tree was a painstaking job, since I only had pics to guide my inspiration. Nothing takes the place of my own eyes! I was not about to set up my easel in the middle of the parking lot, near offices with doctors and lawyers to paint the leaves plein air. I knew I would not hear the end of it, so I did this painting at home!
After most of the leaves were done, I peeled off the liquifilm, and painted in the light branches. I saved the red flowers for last. Later I titled this painting "the impossible tree" because at various times I was ready to give up on the endless twists and turns and details of this tree.
This is sometimes where some artists veer into the abstract, just to paint "the essence" of the tree. I'm half joking. Most artists do not choose the abstract style to rescue a botched up painting. But it sure would have been the easy way out with this one! The truth is that I am mostly too stubborn to give up.
This tree was a big time investment (at least 2 weeks), but this watercolor painting turned out okay. As my hubby commented, "It's a HUGE tree."
22 x 30 Watercolor, St.Germain