Painting winter trees for an interior mural at 49 Degrees North Ski Resort in Chewelah Washington. These trees in a winter landscapes do not come naturally for me, I had to teach myself. I did not grow up knowing what the trees look like here or even knowing what winter looks like. At 30-years-old I moved from the tropics to Washington State and fell head-over-heals in love with winter and skiing. My eyes have seen a lot of these views over the years. Which was helpful in teaching myself about the four seasons, flora and fauna up here in the northwest.
One of the things that used to throw me for a loop, “What is the difference between deciduous and coniferous trees? ”
Painting Winter Trees
After figuring out the type and style of the trees in this mountain top mural, it becomes easier to proceed. I notice that I am painting 4 different color schemes of trees on the mountains. Painting one type of tree at a time throughout the whole 52 feet before changing color pallets, saves me time and energy. It also proves that doing all of one task before starting another is a good idea. My color pallet is usually a paint can lid with pools of 3-5 different colors that I mix as I paint.
I’m sure a thesis or two have been written about this phenomenon being discovered. Words come to mind like productivity and work efficiency, you know, all those “foreign terms” to an artist’s soul.
Winter Trees in the Distance
Faded and short rows of trees rendered in the distance. Grabbing very light blue, green, grays and white colors and I quickly add a horizon row of faded distant trees. Starting on wall “C” I put a line of light gray with a touch of teal small trees on a distant ridge just below the mountains.
Mid Range Frosty White Trees
Frosty whites painted in the medium distance area overlapping the trees in the distant horizon. Cleaning the brushes, I place random frosty white trees by first under painting a gray base. By the time I finish the last base the first one is tacky enough to add white layers on top.
Gray and Green Trees Mid Range
Grayed greens overlapping the horizon line and mixed in the middle with the frosty whites. Cleaning the brushes again I grab grays with my primaries and begin mixing by dipping the brush in different colors and mixing on the wall as I paint.
Large Up-Front Green Trees
Lastly, are the large forest green trees that are close-up in the foreground. I begin to render these only occasionally in the image.
As I finish all the trees on wall “B” & “C” I look back at the first wall “A”. I see an error. It becomes obvious that I have put way too many trees in the foreground on that wall. There is a good reason to not have the trees come right down to the base of the wall where the bench and cubbies underneath are for the kids. Keeping the lower wall area clear allows the kids to be able to lean back without worrying against the wall. Furthermore, with too many trees coming right down to the bench makes the sight becomes distractive and busy, instead of comforting and inviting. I make a mental note to myself to change the first wall to have less up front and personal trees to remedy this.
You can see how changing the trees to gray and green along with the frosty whites and leaving only a couple green guys up front totally changed it into a more distant and approachable view.