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Sugar Maple Tree Tutorial

September 24, 2011

hello everybody. How are you doing? As I promised earlier, today’s topic is painting a sugar maple tree in watercolor. I don’t know why I like to paint trees. May be the form or the leaves or the green attracts me. Whatever the reason is I like trees.

Maple is a very common tree for you, but it is hard to find where I live in. It is because of the Geo-physical characteristics of my home land. I had never come across a maple tree before I went to Kashmir. There I saw ‘Chinar‘ tree (google it, please) which is from the same family. This is huge in size and its leaves change color with the weather. It is note worthy that here in Calcutta (hope you have heard of this city!) we rarely have seen a tree without green leaves unless it is dead.

Anyway, my first observation of a ‘Chinar‘ tree gave me an idea of how a maple tree should look like. Now painting a mape tree from a reference photograph doesn’t cause me pain.

  • Let’s start. I choose a medium textured handmade paper for this. The color of it is not super white / flake white. The tint is like an old paper.
    [TIP: using tinted paper can save you from primary color wash]
  • I am not talking about the sketch here as it is upto you. I shall start directly from filling colors. Choose a mid tone first. In this case the tree would be in red. So I choose a mixture of Gamboge Yellow + Scarlet Lake + Permanent Orange. Dampen the upper part of the tree with fresh water. Now start painting from the top. Leave a little bit of paper white here and there as if you can peep through the leaves and brunches.
  • While coming down take care of the darker parts of the tree. Maintain your color mixture by reducing the part of yellow and increasing the part of Scarlet Lake.
  • When you cover the whole area wait a few seconds to watch how and where the colors spread and accumulate. This observation is a must as it will give you hints where to put thick color mixture.
  • Apply thick color mixture compared to the starting phase to the shaded part of the tree. All should be done while the paper is still wet. Mix Burnt Sienna according to the need, you can also add some thin green patches to make the tree more interesting.
    [TIP: always remember that we are creating an ‘illusion’ of 3 Dimensionality in a 2 Dimensional space by adding color depth into our painting.]
  • now wait till it dries completely.
  • Proceed to the stem part. A detail view has been given.
  • Paint some suggestion of leaves and brunches with your brush tip. Add this on the dark parts of the tree. A detail view is available.

I made a very small composition out of it. If you are following my blog then you should know that I have painted different elements need while composing. Later we shall learn how to compose simple landscape with our existing components. Last but not the least, please don’t forget to subscribe to my blog. Your support helps me to work on and keep fresh topics regularly.  Till then, HAPPY PAINTING!!!

Sugar Maple Tree

Detailed out of the painting

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