Wednesday, October 24, 2012

My Favorite Tip for Painting Red Trees

'Light in the Forest'      9x12     pastel     ©Karen Margulis SOLD

 Fall color is here!  I love yellow trees but there is nothing more beautiful than a brilliant red tree standing on its own. The red just draws me in. How can we possibly capture this red glow in a painting? Do we even have the right colors?  I have discovered a little tip that has help me capture the brilliant red with pastels. Just consult your color wheel!  Read on for details.

Light vs. warm reds
When I am faced with painting something red that is in sunlight I know I need to paint  a shadowed side and a side in the light. Let's take a red tree for an example.

  • I choose a dark cool red for the leaves in the shadows and a brighter red for the rest of the foliage. Now there are some areas in the sunlight and my natural inclination is to choose a lighter red....which would be pink. (see photo)
  • Using pink will make the foliage red correctly but they won't have that warm red glow. The pale red/pink just looks washed out. So what should you do?


  • Take out the color wheel and look at red. Now ask yourself if red was going towards the light source (yellow) what color comes next on the color wheel?  Orange! So if I paint the red leaves a warmer color like red orange rather than a lighter color....I will have a glowing red tree!


So think warmer colors rather than lighter colors when you want to paint something lit by the warm sun!

7 comments:

Maria Hock said...

Lovely vibrant colors and I love your tip! Thanks so much for sharing!

Karen said...

Thanks Maria!

Susan Roux said...

Very nice and striking.

Karen said...

Thanks Susan. I just love using red pastels!

Jo Castillo said...

Great tip, Karen. Thanks for sharing. Beautiful tree.

Melissa Adams Art said...

Wow! I love your tips this week! I've been majorly struggling with this in my paintings, how to achieve glow and warmth without using white. Guess I'll have to get out my color wheel! Lol

Twinkle Nelson said...

What a great lesson and beautiful painting. Thanks for sharing it.