I love painting birch trees; I think it’s a texture thing. Those dark scraggly patches stand out against the pale white-gray bark. Before I learnt how to paint trees I always thought it was so mysterious. How could an artist capture that kind of texture with watery paint? There are different ways of painting birch trees but the way I like gets nice results with a minimum of supplies and effort.
I begin by laying a wash of watery gray along one side of the tree. I use a damp brush to soften the edge and then I let it dry. This creates the rounded form of the tree. To make the texture I make a puddle of dark gray-brown (my favorite mix is indigo and burnt umber) then I apply it with a rigger brush held horizontal to the paper. This allows the paint to skip along the paper in an irregular pattern. The only challenge with this method is once you get started it is really fun so some restraint is necessary otherwise your trees look too striped (skinny zebras anyone?).
We will be painting and drawing trees in my upcoming fall classes. Classes begin in September, I hope you can join us.
This painting is available for sale from my Etsy shop.
Until next time…keep those pencils sharp!