Monday, September 25, 2017

Drawing Trees: Improve Your Art With These Tips


You Have to Give Nature a Helping Hand

Nature isn’t always pretty. Trees, hills, sky — they come in all shapes, colors and sizes, and some of those are definitely NOT painting worthy … at least not until the artist gets a hold of them. Then it is up to us to put a spin on these elements and make them our own.

Johannes Vloothuis is on the same page, and here you will find his tips on how to draw trees from his DVD, The Complete Essentials of Painting Trees. With this video resource and the insights in this post, you’ll be creating landscape elements that are as eye appealing as your next painting deserves! Enjoy!


Be a Shape Collector

How to draw a tree | ArtistsNetwork.comNature doesn’t often give us pleasing artistic shapes. If you’re interested in landscape art and drawing trees, it’s a good idea to have a collection of artistic and abstract tree shapes in a library. An artist needs to be a shape collector. Your sense of aesthetics, to determine an attractive shape, should be innate.

What constitutes an abstract shape for a tree?
1. Draw an imaginary line down the middle and compare both sides. Each side should be different.
2. The shape should not end up symmetrical by being too circular or oval.
3. The contour line should have lost and found edges.
4. There should be color variances within the shape.
5. There should be indentations and protrusions to give a three-dimensional effect.
6. When grouped together, all the negative spaces that form between the trees should be different.

How to draw trees |

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Circle or Oval

Which of the two shapes below is the more appealing, the circle or the oval?

Landscape drawing |

Your best bet for drawing trees is to create shapes that are more oval.

I hope you voted for the oval because that’s the right answer! Why? Because it has a different height than width.

If a tree shape fits inside a circle, no matter how realistically you render it, the shape will not be attractive. Tree drawings look better if their foliage is oval rather than circular.

The same applies to a square format versus a rectangular format. If a waterfall or a rock fits inside a square, the abstract design is compromised. You would want to change the anatomy of a waterfall and stretch it to fit in a rectangle rather than a square.

The bottom line is that it’s not what you do inside the shape that makes the symbol look good. It’s the shape per se. The key is in making the overall shape appealing. Details within the boundaries of the shape are less important.


The post Drawing Trees: Improve Your Art With These Tips appeared first on Artist's Network.

Drawing Trees: Improve Your Art With These Tips

via Artist's Network

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Master Colored Pencil with This Step-by-Step Demonstration


Ribbon Fantasy (colored pencil and Neocolor II wax crayon on paper, 7×10) by Arlene Steinberg


I could stare at the work of Arlene Steinberg all day. Her vibrant colors and use of reflections in her artworks are mesmerizing. Below, Steinberg demonstrates how she drew the eye-catching still life titled Ribbon Fantasy, above, using colored pencil. Enjoy!

Mastering Colored Pencil, Step-by-Step

Colored pencil is translucent, so as you layer and blend colors, those in the lower layers show through, allowing you to create luminous effects and subtle shifts of value and hue. This takes time, but working on a heated Icarus Art drawing board cuts the time drastically.

In this step-by-step demonstration, I identify Prismacolor Premier colored pencils with a “P” and Caran d’Ache Luminance 6901 colored pencils with an “L.”

1. Establishing the Background


1. Apply frisket film and begin background.


After transferring my compositional drawing onto the paper, I colored the curled stem white with Caran d’Ache Neocolor II water-soluble crayon. I then placed drafting tape along the line indicated in the image above to preserve the back edge of the table.

After this, I covered the entire drawing with a sheet of frisket film. Then, with an X-acto knife, I cut away the portion of the frisket covering the background. At this point, I taped my paper surface to the warm side of the Icarus board and turned the board to a low heat level — 1 or 2.

Using a circular scribbling motion, I colored the right side of the background with Neocolor II water-soluble wax crayons, using steel gray on the right and light gray on the left. I then loosely blended the colors by scribbling one on top of the other.

2. Blending the Grays


2. Blend background colors


I turned the Icarus board to its highest setting (8). When it was hot, I placed a towel under my hand and blended the grays into each other with the side of a paper stump, using a circular motion. I didn’t have to press hard because the heat softened the crayon.

Starting my blending strokes on the frisket film and working upward kept the crayon from bleeding under the film. To finish the background, I then turned the drawing upside down and, working from the frisket down, I smoothed the Neocolor II background with straight up-and-down strokes of the side of the stump.

3. Starting the Layers

3. Apply layers of local and complementary colored pencil colors to the ribbon loop

3. Apply layers of local and complementary colored pencil colors to the ribbon loop


I cut away the frisket film on the left side of the ribbon loop. Reducing the Icarus board’s heat setting to 4, I applied colored pencil colors close to those of the actual ribbon: beryl green (L), dark English green (L), middle cobalt hue (L) and grass green (L).

I then darkened the bottom of the loop with black cherry (P). I lightened the green on the right side of the ribbon with canary yellow (P) and white (P), and blended beryl green into the green on the left side of the ribbon. I continued layering color until almost no paper showed in this area.

4. More Blending


4. Blend loop colored pencil colors and layer the next ribbon section


With a colorless blender, I blended the ribbon colors on the left side of the loop, letting the heat from the board help. I then uncovered more of the ribbon by cutting away additional sections of frisket film.

Next, I moved my drawing to the cool side of the Icarus board and colored the stem of the cherry on the right in white (P). Moving back to the warm side of the board, I began layering colored pencil on the newly exposed areas of ribbon. Working from darker areas into lighter areas helps prevent the darker colors from migrating into lighter colors, so I went from crimson red (P) to scarlet lake (P) to cornelian (L) to orange (L) to apricot (L) to golden bismuth yellow (L).

To create shadows on the red areas of the ribbon, I layered black cherry (P) followed by a lightly applied complementary dark green (P), followed by crimson red (P). To create the shadows on the yellow and orange areas of the ribbon, I layered the complementary colors ultramarine violet (L) and gray-blue (L).

Over the lavender and blue, I layered more of the oranges and yellows. I blended lightly as I layered the colored pencil colors, and I continued layering until almost no paper showed in the area where I’d been working. Then, going from lightest colors to darkest, I once again blended with the colorless blender.

5. Coloring the Stems


5. Color the stems and begin the cherries


With an electric eraser, I removed the white pencil from the two stems on the left and cut the frisket film away from the left and right cherries and the third stem. I shaded the stems with black cherry (P) and dark green (P) colored pencil. The complementary hues help shade each other.

For lighter areas of the stems, I used green ochre (L) with touches of crimson red (P) and canary yellow (P). I left the lightest areas of the left stem white. I then lowered the Icarus board heat level to 2 and moved my painting to the cool side where I added white highlights to the exposed cherries.

Once the Icarus board had cooled to the setting of 2, I moved my painting to the heated side and applied Neocolor II purplish red to the cherries. I then turned the heat to the highest setting and blended the purplish red with a paper stump.

6. Shading the Cherries


6. Shade the red cherries


I turned the Icarus board up to level 4 and applied a layer of black cherry (P) colored pencil to the cherries. The lighter areas of the cherries received lighter applications.

Then, on the darker areas, I layered a complementary dark green (P) followed by indigo blue (P) in the very darkest areas. I continued layering colored pencil colors: more black cherry (P), plus black raspberry (P), crimson red (P), pumpkin orange (P) and, finally, canary yellow (P). I blended with a colorless blender, then I erased the white colored pencil highlights.

7. Applying Colors to Remaining Ribbon


7. Apply colors to the remainder of the ribbon


I cut away the frisket film from the remainder of the ribbon and began applying colored pencil in local colors: beryl green (L), dark English green (L), middle cobalt hue (L), spring green (L), grass green (L), and yellow ochre (P). On the shadowed areas I added touches of nectar (P).

On the shadowed areas, I added touches of nectar (P).

8. Working on the Highlights


8. Blend ribbon colors and layer colors on the middle cherry


Using a colorless blender, I blended the ribbon colors I’d just applied. Then I moved my painting to the cool side of the board and lowered the heated side to level 2.

I cut the frisket away from the middle cherry and colored its white highlights. I moved the painting to the heated side and applied Neocolor II yellow to the cherry. Then, with the heat turned to its highest setting, I blended with a paper stump.

Next, I lowered the heat level to 4 and layered yellow ochre (P) on the lightest areas, pumpkin orange (P) on the midvalue areas, and raspberry (P) on the darker areas. Following this, I layered crimson red (P) over the raspberry (P) and the areas I wanted to be lighter red.

In the red shadowed areas, I layered complementary kelp green (P) colored pencil. In the yellow shadow areas I layered complementary manganese violet (L). I then applied more yellow ochre (P), followed by canary yellow (P) in the lightest areas of the cherry.

9. Adding the Final Touches


9. Apply table shadows and reflections and finishing touches to Ribbon Fantasy (colored pencil and Neocolor II wax crayon on paper, 7×10) by Arlene Steinberg

To finish the yellow cherry, I blended with a colorless blender and erased the white pencil from the highlight. I then removed the rest of the frisket film and, with the Icarus board at level 2, I colored in the lightest areas of the table with Neocolor II silver gray.

I then layered Neocolor II light gray in the diamond shape between the red and yellow cherries. Next, I applied Neocolor II steel gray to shadowed areas on the table. With the Icarus board at its highest level, I blended the lighter table colors with a clean stump.

Using a fresh stump, I blended the shadow colors. I reduced the heat level to 4 and, when the board had cooled, added reflected colors to the shadows, using colored pencil colors I’d used in the cherries and ribbons.

To make the shadows interesting, I made sure I layered in complements, and I didn’t worry about going too dark because I knew my next color, cool gray 30% (P) would mute the values. Working on the cool side of the Icarus board, I added touches of red, yellow and turquoise colored pencil throughout the painting to give it additional “life.”

With my sharpened white pencil, I added some subtle stitching lines to the ribbons. To replace highlights, I added Neocolor II white to a little water in a watercolor cup and rubbed the white against the bottom of the cup until I had a creamy white liquid. With a small round watercolor brush, I touched up the highlights.

Having completed Ribbon Fantasy, I could sign it and spray on four to six coats of workable fixative, waiting several minutes between coats. And, there you have it!

This article first appeared in a past issue of The Artist’s Magazine. Peruse through past issues of the magazine for more art demonstrations, tips and techniques, advice and interviews, here.

The post Master Colored Pencil with This Step-by-Step Demonstration appeared first on Artist's Network.

Master Colored Pencil with This Step-by-Step Demonstration

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Friday, September 22, 2017

Cool Weather = Warm Colors | 7 Fall Trees to Help Welcome Autumn

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Cool Weather = Warm Colors | 7 Fall Trees to Help Welcome Autumn

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” — Albert Camus

Fall trees possess a magical quality that makes them endlessly inspiring to artists. Here, seven pastelists share seven paintings that capture the breathtaking beauty of autumn. Enjoy!

Tom Bailey | Fall Trees and Portraiture

Fall Trees | Pastel Artist | Tom Bailey | Artists Network

The Lookout (pastel,16×20) by Tom Bailey


Some paintings of fall trees take on a feeling of portraiture, as in Tom Bailey‘s The Lookout. “One tree, like a solitary human figure, can convey everything from an inspirational hero to [an] abandoned victim,” he says.

His placement of this tree is meant to “reinforce the feeling of being alone and watchful. Subtle paths of light, line and color lead the eye toward the stark trunk and set the tree farther away from the surrounding landscape.”

Nancy Nowak | Bring on the Warm

Fall Trees | Pastel Artist | Nancy Nowak | Artists Network

Morning Has Broken (pastel, 12×16) by Nancy Nowak


“My intention was to bring out the full spectrum of warm fall colors in the leaves,” says Nancy Nowak of Morning Has Broken. “By painting the trunks and shadow areas a cool blue — the complementary color of all those lighter shades of orange — I was able to intensify the richness of those warm tones and make them sing.”

Teresa Saia | Capturing Fall Light

Fall Trees | Pastel Artist | Teresa Saia | Artists Network

Inner Glow (pastel, 20×20) by Teresa Saia


Inner Glow by Teresa Saia is based on a photo taken along a creek in Santa Fe, N.M. “The photo was mainly in yellow and greens, but the light pattern was fabulous. I wanted to capture the light as it bounced and filtered through the cottonwoods.”

She painted on a piece of mounted UART 320 paper. She toned the surface with an acrylic wash that she applied loosely using a “hot” mixture of transparent red oxide and cadmium red light.

Mary Denning | Interpreting Fall’s Shapes

Fall Trees | Pastel Artist | Mary Denning | Artists Network

Autumn Glory (pastel, 14×14) by Mary Denning


Mary Denning says she generally pays attention to overall shapes more than details. She also takes an interpretive approach to color, as seen in Autumn Glory. “I think of a painting as a chance to play with color and consider what will make it ‘pop,’ she says.

“So, reds end up redder and yellows yellower,” continues Denning. “Colors run into one another in a random frenzy. The presentation is, therefore, more whimsical than factual.”

Judy Evans | Fall’s Reflections

Fall Trees | Pastel Artist | Judy Evans | Artists Network

What the Rains Brought Down (pastel, 25.75×18.5) by Judy Evans


It was late autumn when Judy Evans was walking in her favorite woodlands looking for inspiration. “I thought it might be too late to find it,” she says. “Then I looked down — not up — and there it was, not in the trees, but floating in a puddle.”

Evans used black sanded paper for What the Rains Brought Down to create the ultimate contrast. And, trees are still a part of the painting, seen reflected in the water.

James Kasperek | Stop While You’re Ahead

Fall Trees | Pastel Artist | James Kasperek | Artists Network

Fall (pastel, 30×40) by James Kasperek


“I focus not so much on subject matter, but more on design, light and color,” says James Kasperek of Fall.

“The most challenging aspect is knowing when to stop,” he adds. “I strive to say just enough for the viewer to feel what I’ve felt about the subject, while still leaving it fresh, loose and open for individual interpretation.”

Susan M. Story | Embrace Diversity

Fall Trees | Pastel Artist | Susan M. Story | Artists Network

Woodland Sundance (pastel, 12.5×19.5) by Susan M. Story


“Every tree is unique,” says Susan M. Story. “The older they get, the more interesting their character as they become gnarled and textured,” as in Woodland Sundance.

“When I look at tree limbs, they remind of a person’s legs and arms,” explains Story. “Our joints are similar to the bulbs and crotches on a tree, where other branches and twigs will grow with a change in direction or angle.”

She adds, “We all grow, influenced by our environment.”

Ready to Paint Your Own Fall Landscape?

In the preview below of Liz Haywood-Sullivan’s video workshop, Landscape Painting in Pastel: Fall Color, the artist discusses the importance of establishing value relationships for a bright fall landscape. Enjoy!

You can paint along with Liz throughout all four seasons by streaming her videos on

What is your favorite season to paint or draw? Tell us in the comments below!

The post Cool Weather = Warm Colors | 7 Fall Trees to Help Welcome Autumn appeared first on Artist's Network.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Advice for Using Intense Color

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