To live and enjoy every day to its fullest, use my gifts to help others, I travel to wherever passion finds me.

What Will She Paint?

So many friends I met here...!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


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."

The Impossible Tree.
22 x 30 Watercolor, St.Germain


Michelle said...

Wow! Absolutely gorgeous Jeannette

jeannette stgermain said...

Michelle, thank you! Haven't "seen" you for a while. Hope everything is okay with you?

Carol @ TheWritersPorch said...

Jeannette, it really is gorgeous! My favorite so far! Do you know what kind of tree it is? It is a spectacular tree!

Gaston Studio said...

This is my favorite painting of yours Jeannette. It evokes so much imagination and is somewhat whimsical; reminds me of a 3-member family!

I also am a lover of oddly shaped trees; do you know what kind of tree this is?


SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Hello Jeannette. I was about to post a comment much earlier on but got distracted. :)

WOW!! Well done!! This is really beautiful but reading your process, paintings like this must take forever to do. It seems so complicated to me. I like the way you have captured the light on the bark.

jeannette stgermain said...

Thank you! I don't know its name. But the flowers begin to bloom, before the leaves appear. I've never seen this one in colder climates. After my move I could research the name.

jeannette stgermain said...

Thank you! Yes, it is somewhat whimsical and imaginary - my painting style in watercolor probably also contributes to it. I don't know the name, and will go looking for it when my move is over and our house is sold.

jeannette stgermain said...

Thank you, Joan! The long process is somewhat of my own doing. It has been a while that I painted something more intricate in watercolor, and when I'm not sure what I want to focus on , I'll go slow - because you see every mistake you make with watercolor (can't paint over your mistakes like oil, acrylic or pastel).

YOU were distracted, Joan??

Whitemist said...

These kind of trees make such wonderful objects to paint. i think I did a few out in Colorado where the wind twists the trunk wonderfully and intricately. Love the result!

jeannette stgermain said...

Your comments always have something interesting in it LOL
Although I should know better, because in Holland often trees on the dykes lean towards one direction, I had not occurred to me that it is the wind twisting the trunks certain directions!
Glad you like the result!

The Green Stone Woman said...

Very well done, Jeannette. It was definitely worth all the effort you put into it, because it turned out fantastically. Much better then I expected, considering the photos you had to work with. Fabulous job, you can be proud of yourself.

jeannette stgermain said...

Yes, thank you Irene! I am glad I persevered. You of all people knows that sometimes you have to push beyond your feelings:) to get a job done!

Maria said...

I love both the photos and your painting of the HUGE tree :)))
The branches look like arms, and the red flowers are amazing! I've never seen flowers on a tree like that!
Summer in Vienna: there are times when you think you have monsoon rains here. But there are also summers when there is not a single raindrop in six week.
What a climate :))

jeannette stgermain said...

Thank you! After my move I'll have to start looking for the name of that tree. You are the first one that caught the joke - I guess I still make European jokes, LOL
Vienna is in many things a city of extremes!

Merisi said...

Your painting is out of this world beautiful! :-)

I thought it could be a Poinciana tree, but the leaves are different. Very mysterious beauty! :-)

jeannette stgermain said...

Even though it took many hours, I enjoyed the result!! After my house move, when things are a little in order, I will look for the name of that tree. I know the same one is on the grounds of the Huntington Library. Thank you for visiting!