Dark Beauty

The sun fades quickly on December afternoons, dipping below the horizon not long after 4pm. Even after a lifetime of Decembers, it still surprises me how short these days are. But the silver lining comes once the sky begins to darken. Then, in the clarity of cold winter air, the bare branches of trees silhouetted against the backdrop of blue and pink, deep purple, and inky black create a singular beauty. These darkest days will soon pass, but while they last, I’ll cherish this silent and remarkable view.

Tips and Techniques– To achieve the deep colors of this painting, I used indathrone blue and Winsor violet, a bit of indigo and ultramarine, and a dash of aureolin yellow on the tree. I drew the maple first to map out the structure of the painting and then spattered masking fluid. After a wet-in-wet wash of the main colors, I added a bit more spatter and then began to pick out the trunk and branches. Starting with the branches that are in front and adding more and more with successive layers, the painting slowly gained depth. I added the details on the tree trunk and a final spatter of white gouache to finish the piece.

GOOD NEWS: The Nature Explorer’s Sketchbook is back in stock! Take 25% off any purchase at Tumblehome Books until December 15th with code ty25. Thank you!

MORE GOOD NEWS: I am doing a free workshop Sketching Through the Winter on Friday, December 18, 1-2:30pm (PST) / 4-5:30pm (EST) as part of a series of free holiday events and paint-alongs at the Winslow Art Center. Check out the lineup of great programs and sign up!

18 Comments on “Dark Beauty

  1. This is beautiful! We have deep thick oak woods behind our home. About 900 acres worth.I’ve always been a little intimidated about sketching it. You’ve given me directions. I’m definitely going to try this.

    • Hi Erica- Just pick out one tree with a good basic structure to start. You might want to try this with lighter layers to begin so that you can see your pencil lines. Once you get the hang of it, you can use darker colors. Enjoy!

  2. Wow. Gazing at this painting is a meditation in itself. Just beautiful. Thank you for sharing your colors and process tips. Something like this would be great layering practice for me!

    Good to hear your book is back in stock. I’ve been waiting for my copy for four weeks now. I’m looking forward to your Sketching Through the Winter class!

    • I’m sorry you had to wait so long! They tell me they all filling all back orders like mad. Glad you will be able to join the Sketching Through the Winter class– it’s going to be fun!

  3. Got your book in one day from Amazon. Love it. Good luck.
    going to try to get your workshop scheduled. Have a great holiday.

  4. So glad to hear about the book!!!! We ordered it on Nov. 4th and weren’t sure the payment went through correctly, although it does show on my bank statement. Can’t wait!!!!!!!!!

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