Trees Oh My!

Cypress trees on Arches 140# 11 x 14 inches

I have been working on this painting off and on for several weeks. I was going to establish it further but decided to let it be. Sometimes I think that with my studio work, I fiddle too much, this is a common problem, nothing new. Here is the original post with photos of this tree (I think) at least the post will give you the general idea Peoria Memorial Park-World Watercolor 7

Semi-abstract of oaks on Arches 300# rough 11 x 14 inches

I am not convinced that this is a success, because of several reasons, my darker foliage came out more bluish than I intended and I feel that my color passages are not fresh enough. I do believe that with plein air I am always vying for that fresh look so now I am spoiled because I am looking for that in all my work, which is a good thing but I raising the bar on myself.


This is the painting before I decided to bring out some of the dark branches. This was first started as a plein air of some oak trees with late evening sun. I didn’t continue on because I wanted to bring out the dark tree trunks when the paper was dry. I liked the underpainting initially, I have been painting from memory and imagination. I think that I might come back to this idea and do several which means I’ll start it en plein air and continue on as before. I am hoping for fresh color, and to carry over the beauty of the evening light.



38 thoughts on “Trees Oh My!

  1. great composition with a leaning upwards view. loved the underpainting especially too! the first painting of the tree trunk is very compelling with the clean, forms and shapes you made with just a minimum of strokes. and the light glancing off the right side is lovely. 🙂

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      1. fresh is best!! for milk and wc 🙂 keep doing what you’ve been doing with your water and rocks for sure. the tree trunk is great.
        greens…. I’m thinking…. soon, of a post about mixing greens and which ones, and how to vary them according to their locations in the painting. just not today! too tired! M, did you delete your Pinning button? was going to pin your rivers!! but can’t… loved them and thought they’d be perfect in Rivers board, and wc landscape. hmmm (plus, you need to sign these !!)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. oh…..I don’t know anything about the “pin” button, maybe I need a little direction? lol….also I am a bit slow about signing like you all do, I mean more like a watermark. I usually don’t sign until I frame or whatever. I know….silly me. I can’t wait to see your mixing greens post.

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  2. Wowser I adore all of these, the great trunk that takes a tale of many years, you have captured its soul, and well those trees at an angle, delightful, I feel like I am laying beneath, with those colours transformed to a dreamy state. Beautifully painted ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼

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  3. Beautiful paintings. I especially like the strong shapes and the blue grey on the topmost painting. You keep on chipping away – it seems to me – to get at some sort of essence of expression with your paintings. It is not always easy, I know, but I think you are doing great.

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    1. I was just thinking about that this morning, that I am chipping away towards that essence, maybe not the exact words that you used, regardless….you nailed it! Interesting how I could had gone further with that first tree but what I applaud is that I recognized that it was done even though it wasn’t! ha! It has more essence being in the stage it is at. Man, it is not easy. Thank you Fritz for your keen observation.

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      1. I think you stopped at the right time with that painting. I read somewhere that making a good painting often means knowing when to stop. Any then somewhere else I read you should stop as soon as the first thought of stopping pops into your head. Very often I have not heeded that advice and messed up a promising painting by over-whatevering it (over-mixing/blending/darkening/etc). You did great with this one.

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      2. aww thank you, interesting how I let it sit for some time and decided to finish it up and I immediately saw that it was done. I do believe this was the first time that I could really see how an “unfinished” painting is better than let’s say if I brought in more darks, an epiphany of sorts.

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  4. Good morning Margaret….I love these trees, especially the first image. I think it’s easy for any one of us to ‘fiddle’ – which is why I try to work on several pieces at once, with the hope that this might deter me from overdoing….
    Hope you are enjoying a weekend filled with painting…janet. 🙂

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    1. Thank you Janet, I think that you are correct in that working on several at a time helps to keep the fiddling at bay. So fun with that first tree because I could had gone on and brought out more darks but decided that the essence of the tree would had been shattered if I did. I truly saw it and was confident with that decision, one of the firsts for me! the “fiddler” laid down that brush for once! 🙂

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  5. Wonderful, Margaret! I love them both! But I do understand that you feel uncertain about the darker branches. It is good that you took a photo of the underpainting that has been perfect already. But you did not fiddle too much on it. I think I have dozens of ´unfinished´paintings that are still pending because I am not sure if I should add some darks. 🙂

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    1. Oh it is so hard, isn’t it? Interesting how I decided to go darker with the branches on the second painting but decided that the first tree (my favorite) was better without going darker. I think putting paintings away for a while and then bringing them out for a fresh look always helps.


  6. I appreciate your thoughts about how plein air work raised the bar for other work. I made the naive mistake of thinking plein air work needed to reach a level of refinement that appears in studio work and yet still be plein air artwork. Perhaps a few years down the road I’ll possess the skills and have the experience that will allow me to paint more refined plein air art. Until very recently, though, I’ve held my plein air work to a rediculous standard. Moving past my previous assumption was easier once I let go of the notion that I had to finish every piece or it was a waste of time. I’m learning more by doing and moving on than I did while struggling to fix a Painting’s problems.

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    1. I am beginning to see that all plein air is valuable, finished or not. Yet I still struggle with that need to “finish” or refine because I wonder if we figure that it won’t be appreciated or valued if it isn’t, it is a quandary to be sure. If anything, the experience of getting out there and trying to capture what I see and feel is why I paint first of all. The more I do it, I am willing to let that need for the end product to be what we all call finish. I have seen many wonderful paintings that are simplistic, a dash, dab of color and it can convey so much….that is what I am going for nowadays…..the “breath and soul” of a painting and often that means less than more. 🙂

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      1. I’m learning that the plein air work informs other paintings I do, and makes them better. I only started doing plein air painting last summer and of course I looked at what well-known artists do and set my goals accordingly. That has pushed me to improve my work in plein air and the studio. The key for me,
        though, has been seeing and understanding the real value of on-location work.

        It is difficult for people to appreciate and value plein art work, which often looks less finished. Perhaps our efforts to refine them causes unintended confusion and causes people to use wrong criteria to judge and value the product. Of course, we have to value our work, too. 😊

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      2. I am now following your blog, I really like your paintings and your reading about the experience and thinking processes. I don’t see any comment boxes, I wanted to say that there was a painter from Minnesota that painted through the winter. I can’t remember his name but I love his paintings, I think he was a pastelist. I wonder if he is still alive? Anyway, I might have to go back to working in pastel this winter because of the problem with drying. Our winters are nothing like you experience. Where I do like to go paint (up the road and beyond) there is quite a bit of snow and cold, might go below 0 but doesn’t stay there too long. I was hoping to get more snow paintings last year but didn’t venture further on up as I had hoped, we’ll see if I will this year.


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