How to Paint A Clump of Distant Trees

Painted by Chris Berdoll


Mix 2 washes of Ultramarine Blue and Azo Yellow

1alight One wash is very diluted and has more yellow

1bdarks One has more blue and is less diluted


After you pick up paint lightly dab excess on paper towel


The lights are applied with an underhand hold on the brush and with the brush held sideways



Lightly roll the light mixture over the tops of the upper segments of trees.


You have created a broken wash — a cauliflower effect of hit or miss color.  Some people use a sponge to get this effect.

4a Use the tip of the brush to dab a touch of dark


To shade, line the lower parts of the light clump with dark.  Actually touch the bottom of the light wash with the dark; but do not allow the dark paint to overtake the top of the light mixture.



You should be able to distinguish light spots from dark spots

5a With the side of the brush, add more light


In some areas, allow the wash to lightly touch the previous clump.  Occasionally drag a wish of the darker overflow into the light.


With the tip of the brush, dab darks into this light clump



With the side of the brush, add more light


With the tip of the brush, add darks


9a  9b

With the side of the brush, paint the light tops of the next layer of trees.

10a  10b

With the tip of the brush, shade the bottom of that clump


With the side of the brush, paint the lights of the neighboring clump.

12a  12b

13a  14a


16a Fewer trees are at the top of the heap

17a  17b

As you paint the grove of trees, note that as the elevation of the tees lowers, vegetation is more dense and grows more together.  The paint will begin to merge a bit.

19a Darken the base even more


He added a bit of vegetation to the upper left area.  Keep in mind that the growth is rather triangular–more and wider at the base; less and narrower at the top.

Allow the washes of this tree mass to dry before adding the twigs.

21 Mix a wash of Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna

22  22b

Look for openings or clearings toward the top of the masses; and with a Rigger brush, draw simple twigs.


He allowed this to dry.

He felt that the clump in the lower right corner looked like a blob that needed to be converted into a shrub.  With clear water on his rigger brush, he lifted or erased lines of paint to create the feel of a shrub.  He noted that a shrub’s branches seem to all come from a common point and become more like groups of V’s than groups of Y’s [as in the twigs].

31d  32a


He added a few final twigs.

He showed other examples of this exercise that he had painted and commented that the results will be different every time.




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