Tree landscape

Tips for Painting Trees

October 11, 2013 0 Comments


Trees in the distance will be lighter and more simple than trees in the foreground.

Too much detail on a tree (overworking it) can be distracting in a quiet scene.

In a landscape, brush in simple trees, then paint in the rest of your painting and add tree details later.  


Without shadows, trees look like they’re floating.

Shadows move away from the light source so all the shadows (all objects in your painting) must all go in the same direction.

Shadows are not black; they are a grayed down version of the ground (or whatever the shadow is on).

Shadows are not bright… the color must be grayed down.

Shadows do not have hard edges. The shadow must touch the base of the trunk and extend out.    


Your colors at the top of the tree are not the same as they are at the bottom. Tube greens are pretty bright so there are others colors you use as well. Some examples are:

– Payne’s Gray can be used to darken your shadow colors.

– Alizarin Crimson is a rich, pure, deep red that will deepen your greens. –

– Viridian is a rich, pure, deep green to which you can add white, yellow, red, orange.

– Burnt Sienna is a beautiful golden brown that will make your greens less bright.

– Titanium White lighten colors

Greens out of the tube will be blaringly obvious in your painting; however, greens that have been mixed are much for beautiful and natural. Try experimenting with mixing Cerulean Blue with Cadmium Orange, Pthalo Blue with Cadmium Yellow Light, and Viridian Green with Cadmium Yellow Medium and white.

The possibilities are endless. Don’t feel like you have to exactly duplicate the greens you see in the landscape or photo you are painting from.


The most important thing is seeing and duplicating the lights and darks because they create the illusion of dimension on your canvas. Holding the darks is more difficult than adding the light areas. It’s easiest to work dark to light, saving the highlights (the lightest lights) until last.

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