I love trees, and the large oaks of the Pacific Northwest offer a great painting challenge. This Big Tree is like a giant octopus with its many trunks, branches and twigs. So I elected to reduce the number of small twigs to better reveal the multitude of trunks going off in dozens of directions. I think that using some artistic license helps to get across the grandness of this particular tree.

First I painted the entire sky background, letting it over lap the edges of the trunks and establish the negative space. The paint mixtures contain phthalocyanine blue, ultramarine blue, and manganese violet in addition to white.

Next I established the entire tree starting with the darkest areas first. These oil paint mixtures used most of the earth colors, and I leaned heavily on Utrecht’s Van Dyke brown. This particular color reads as a warm black and was the perfect choice to convey the heft and girth of these large branches.

After that, I then worked through all the light colors and enjoyed glazing them to achieve varying levels of illumination afforded by the low angle of the winter sun.