|'The Queen of Spring' 8x10 pastel ©Karen Margulis|
My dogwood trees won't bloom. They are about five years old and every spring I hope they will but so far nothing but nice green leaves. I will have to be satisfied with painting dogwoods in bloom. Flowering trees can be a challenge to paint. They are like giant bouquets of flowers.....plenty of details to get caught up in. It is so easy to get carried away and end up with a tree covered in dots and blobs of color.
I have simplified my dogwood trees into three easy steps.
1. Paint the trunks. Dogwoods have trunks with character. The are lyrical and irregular. I use a dark blue or purple pastel and draw some lyrical painterly lines for the trunks. I make sure they get thinner as they get taller.
2. Block in the MASS OF FOLIAGE. I treat the flowers as a mass. I don't paint individual blooms. I put down the darkest colors I see in the mass. The flowers are typically a creamy white to pink. They may appear pure white especially against the dark backdrop of the woods....but the flowers are not really pure white.
I didn't use pure white for my flowers. I started with violets and dull greens of a medium value. As I developed the masses I used lighter values such as pale yellows and pinks. I also develop the background at the same time using the background colors to carve away at the flower masses making sky holes.
3. Refine the Tree. I continue to add lighter and lighter values to the flower masses. I am still keeping the large masses intact. I am careful to leave some of the dark showing. I am trying to create the form of the trees. I also work on the foreground bushes and add a few hits of azaleas.
Since I am working on Canson paper and I don't have a lot of tooth, I decide to use some workable fixative so I could build more layers. I finish the tree with some dancing flower shapes...these are my brightest and heaviest marks. I place them carefully so that they move they eye around the painting. I don't paint every flower. I want to leave something to the viewer's imagination.
|The pastels I used for the dogwood blossoms|
|My initial block in...keeping shapes simple|
|Beginning to add the lighter values and creating volume in the tree|