How to grow a tree…

..well a tree ‘portrait’ anyway!

I quite often get asked how I approach making a painting and as I remembered to take some photos of work in progress on this one (which is rare!) I thought I would share.

The approach varies depending on the medium I am painting in but this is fairly typical for paintings done in oil.

My painting surface here is 3mm MDF which I have primed with several coats of household primer and then a coat or two of artist’s ‘gesso’.  I then stain the white surface to a cool or warmish grey, either with diluted oil paint rubbed in with a rag or sometimes with acrylic paint.

I start by roughly drawing out the main shapes with diluted oil, taking note in particular of where the darks will go (stage 1). The next stage is to mix up the colours I will be using and to ‘block in’ the main areas of colour, trying to get the lights and darks and the colour mixes approximately right (stage 2).

Stage 3 then involves refining the block in until the painting is finished.  There are lots of mini stages here and what amounts to ‘finished’ is often hard to gauge.  Some people like a very detailed, refined image.  Personally I strive not to fiddle and to try to achieve a ‘painterly’ work, which hopefully has interest to the viewer.

Here is the finished piece.  I hope you like it.

Tree avenue, Burghley (February) 10″ x 12″ oil on board

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