Virtual Art Academy
how to paint trees

How To Paint Trees: 3 Brushwork Tips For Creating Convincing Tree Foliage

To learn how to paint trees you need to understand the anatomy of a tree and master different techniques for using brushwork.

how to paint trees and foliage

This is student painting in which several important techniques are shown:

How to paint trees: Step 1 – Dark masses

When you paint the mass of the foliage, start by painting a large dark mass. Make sure you get the proportions correct and pay particular attention to the top contour. This generally will suggest a specific species if you get this correct.

how to paint trees

How to paint trees: step 2 – Skyholes

One of the characteristics of a tree are the holes in it through which you can see the sky. These are called ‘sky holes’. If you use a fan brush you can gently touch the canvas with the sky color to suggest these holes.

How To Paint Trees: 3 Brushwork Tips For Creating Convincing Tree Foliage 2

How to paint trees: step 3 – Creative brushwork

Get creative with your brushstrokes. Twirl the brush. Use the front and side of the brush. Push the brush in to the canvas with different levels of pressure. Experiment with you own techniques.

how to paint trees

Members of the Apprentice Program can see the full video this month of a tree painted using these and many other brushwork techniques.

For a complete description and lesson on painting trees, see painting lesson N02 Tree Masses, in the Apprentice Program Year Four.

Comments from Barry’s Virtual Art Academy students

The small steps are easy to do

The small steps are easy to do 1

I am extremely impressed with the process that Barry has developed for VAA.  Learning to paint can be intimidating, but when broken into many small projects it is very do-able.  I just did my first live model painting session- a 5 hour, one day session.  Thanks to VAA, I was able to break the painting down into chunks- the notan; using triangulation to check drawing points; the colours- hues, saturation, values; focal point; how to mix and handle the palette.  I did not expect a masterpiece with this first session, but was pleased to get as far as I did.  I look forward to continuing with the program.  Thank you!

Kim Stepney