There aren’t very many books just on painting trees. One of the best is a little book by Adrian Hill, published in the 1960’s by Blandford Press. The most comprehensive is Adelene Fletcher’s Watercolourist’s A-Z of Trees & Foliage which covers by far the widest range of specific varieties. Both of these books, however, tend to concentrate on the specific shapes of individual types of tree.
If this is their weakness, it also explains why there aren’t many books on trees. To put it simply, very few people want to paint a tree in the way they want to paint a flower; in general, trees are part of a landscape, nothing more. All they need to do is look reasonably convincing and they’re done their job, they’re a shape and not a lot else.
Trees basically have four different appearances, corresponding to the four seasons: in winter there are no leaves and you can see the branches, in spring there may be flowers, in summer the canopy is full developed and in the autumn the leaves have turned brown and started to drop off. Not a lot more you need to know, really, except that, where a tree appears, it needs to look like a tree and not just an attempt at a tree. You don’t need paint every leaf: from any distance they quickly merge into just patterns of light and shade and you also need to get the branches, if they’re visible, looking as though they’re growing naturally and aren’t just stuck on.
In just 48 pages, Terry Harrison will show you how to do all this. A short book can’t be laboured, so he gets to the point quickly and doesn’t overwork it. Terry sells his own range of brushes, so naturally these feature widely, but you can find similar alternative in any art shop (if you don’t have them already) or they can be ordered from www.terryharrison.com.
The book covers basic shapes, how to paint trunks, branches and foliage, trees in different seasons and concludes with more detailed studies of eleven specific varieties of trees which are painted in more detail and include apple, oak, pine and horse chestnut.
For a subject that won’t detain most people for very long, this book should be just about the right length and price and contain most of the information they need.
Year published: 2005
List price: £7.99