Even with all the dire predictions of bugs and disease, the totally bare landscape is unlikely to be with us any time soon. Trees, by their size and presence, are one of the defining features of any scene and getting them wrong can mar a painting as surely as badly painted features can turn a portrait into a caricature.
Terry is a slick presenter and he starts the book with ways of creating simple shapes that look immediately convincing. His own range of brushes comes into it, of course, but in an understated way, and you have to admit that they’re rather useful. And anyway, you may already have the basic shapes in your kit, so there’s no hard sell here.
The obvious next stage is trees through the seasons and Terry provides quick demonstrations that show a variety of compositions, such as an ivy-clad trunk beside a winter lane, that give you a chance to get your bearings. Moving on (the title of the next chapter), you get specific varieties. Even here, the emphasis isn’t on the details but rather the shapes and colours and how to present them as adjuncts to the main composition. This section is something of a tour de force as Terry underplays his hand masterfully, using the subject of the book as a foil to the main work.
After all this, you might be surprised to find the final section of the book being called Trees in The Landscape. Although that seems to be what we’ve seen already, here Terry paints some really quite ambitious scenes where the trees really are the main feature, yet are still not portraits. He works in a variety of conditions and demonstrates clear light, dappled shade and misty recession throughout the year.
There’s a lot here and it’s genuinely surprising just how much Terry manages to wring out of his subject without any sense that he’s stretching either it or himself to fill the 128 pages.