Painting Trees with the ABCs | Jen Dixon | Skillshare

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Introduction and Materials


    • 2.

      Exercise: Research & Draw: How Trees Work


    • 3.

      Exercise: MOXIWUV Marks


    • 4.

      Exercise: Colour Considerations: Leaves and Bark


    • 5.

      Project: Building Trees - Part 1


    • 6.

      Project: Building Trees - Part 2


    • 7.

      Project: Building Trees - Part 3


    • 8.

      Final Thoughts & Thank You


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About This Class

Sounds curious, I know, but I want to show you a totally unique way to paint interesting trees - full of character - using a few marks you already know very well - the alphabet.

I had a crazy idea while painting in my studio, and thought “Everyone has heard of paint by numbers, but what if you could literally paint by letters?” And so I started experimenting and the results were amazing. And this class grew and grew...

This class is for beginners, improvers, and experienced painters looking to try something new. (I mean, really, we never stop learning even when we're experienced.)
The technique can be used to paint realistically or more whimsically, it’s up to you how you use it. You'll see how to do both. Best of all, it’s dead easy and fun.

But we don't stop with the alphabet. In this class we will:

  • Research and draw trees, understand how they work
  • Practice 7, unique marks based on specific alphabet letters
  • Mix and swatch colours for leaves and bark using a limited palette
  • Put our research, colour, and marks to work with building watercolour trees
  • Create a composition with our trees
  • And grow in confidence through painting without a drawing

You'll get tips on creating beautiful, natural, easy bark textures, as well as additional example colour mixing advice for seasonal foliage. I also talk through a couple of topics during my demonstrations to help develop you as an artist. I know you're going to fall in love with Painting Trees with the ABCs.

I had so much fun putting this technique into a class, and I can't wait to see where you take it with your projects.

Let's get started! :)

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Jen Dixon

Abstract & figurative artist, educator

Top Teacher

Whether you want to learn new skills or brush up on rusty ones, I would love to help. I have been a selling artist for around 35 years. In my own practice I use pen & ink, pastels, oils, acrylics, and watercolours regularly. My work hangs in private collections around the world.
I love what I do, and I teach what I love. We can do good things together here, so let's get started...

About me:
I’m an Ameri-Brit (dual citizen), living on the North Cornwall coast of the UK. I’ve been here nearly two decades, but have lived in Indiana, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Berkshire (UK). I am studying Spanish daily with an aim for becoming bilingual. Hola, artistas.

My work covers everything from graffiti-influenced illustration & mixed m... See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction and Materials: Hi, I'm Jen Dixon, and welcome to painting trees with the ABCs. Sounds curious, I know, but I want to show you a totally unique way to paint interesting trees full of character, using a few marks you already know very well, the alphabet. I had a crazy idea while painting and thought, everyone has heard of paint by numbers, but what if you could literally paint by letters? I started experimenting and the results were amazing. This class is for beginners, improvers, and experienced painters looking to learn something new. The technique can be used to paint realistically, or more whimsically. It's up to you how you use it, and the method is easy and fun. If you've taken classes with me before, you know we're going to have a practice marked section, but I'll also help you to literally build trees from the ground up. We'll cover color mixing for nature, and then jump into painting some incredibly cool trees, using seven carefully chosen letters of the alphabet. The skills you learn in this class, will have you effortlessly painting trees in no time. Ready to jump in? Great. Here's what you need to get started. A range of basic watercolors, either in a travel sketch kit, your desk set, or whatever you have to hand. You'll always get better results with quality paints. If you're just starting out, go for quality over quantity of colors, you'll get really good at color mixing along the way too. You'll also need a few watercolor brushes. I recommend up to three sizes of pointed, round brushes, and a couple of jars of clean water. Paper towels, a ceramic palette, or enameled plate, whichever you prefer. If you have plastic, that's all right too, I just prefer enamel or ceramic myself. Finally, inexpensive heavy cartridge paper for exercises and learning techniques, and your preferred watercolor paper for the final project. Don't forget a tasty beverage. I've used this method with studio students and the results were fast and remarkable, I can't wait to share this with you. Gather up your supplies, prep your desk, and let's get started. 2. Exercise: Research & Draw: How Trees Work: Before we jump into painting trees, we need to understand how they work. A quick Google image search for the word tree will fill your screen with a wide variety of our tall, woody friends to begin learning. You may find setting up a Pinterest board for gathering reference photos useful. Once you study a little about how the branches grow from the trunk and the overall shape of a particular tree, you can begin sketching something believable. First, let's look at tree trunks. Straight parallel trunks happen in nature, but you'll also see bends, zigzags, S's and more. Uneven forks are interesting [inaudible] or pruned off branches and gnarled broad trunks or twisting branches are fabulous. Practice simple outlines to begin to explore trunks and the beginnings of near branches. We could easily rattle off and diagram nearly 40 species of trees with simple drawings, but let's not focus on that. Whether you're interested in oaks, birches, ginkgos, sequoia or maples it doesn't matter for now. This isn't a class for being that specific. What we want is believable trees painted easily without stress and perhaps with a little bit of whimsy. The branches you stick onto your trunks will help you decide how to leaf your trees. So let's look at how branches work. Most of the trees you can think up will have upward reaching branches. Leaves want the sun and it is the branch's job to get them closer. Of course, some species buck this trend, but let's look at what I'm calling smiling branches first. Based on what we've observed and learnt from our tree references, let's draw a basic deciduous tree with smiling branches wide and tall. Use firm, non sketchy marks with confidence. Don't get hung up on the details. After a skeleton is in place, how might you populate the tree with clumps of leaves? Use the same style of line and add big, fluffy shapes onto the framework. Remember to think about how the tree you are drawing or painting is reacting with its environment. If it has open space around it, it will likely spread horizontally as well as vertically and maybe wider than it is tall. If the tree is in an area where it competes for light, either from other trees nearby or from shadow in mountains, hills or buildings, you will typically find that it grows taller than it is wide. Trees need light and so their spread will maximize their exposure to it and branch patterns will vary from species to species. In most cases, branches are like arms and fingers reaching for light. Trunks taper into branches, branches taper into smaller branches and those branches into clusters of leaves like little solar panels soaking in the sun. Practice making skeleton trees in pencil till you get a feel for making believable naked trees. Try drawing leaning trees, gnarled trees and upright slender trees. When you have an idea of how trees are constructed, put together a few very basic pencil sketches to work out possible painting compositions. Here are my sketches for trees in five different scenes. I'll pick one to paint a little later. 3. Exercise: MOXIWUV Marks: Not every letter of the English alphabet makes for nice foliage. I've tried, and what I've narrowed it down to is a group of seven letters that in my experience make the best looking marks. I even came up with a ridiculous sounding mnemonic to remember the letters, MOXIWUV. If you can come up with a better arrangement, do let me know, but that's what I'm running with for now. Let's take that in order. M. How many different ways can you write the letter M? Wide, slim, tall, short, balloon tops, and almost heart-shaped. It's surprising the variation you can get out of one character when you try. Let's do that. Because this class relies on lots and lots of a repeated letter, I want you to be able to make a repeatable shape with those suggestions in mind. Some will feel alien because we're all hardwired through years of practice as to how we make our unique M or other letters. But let's do it. The aim is to have the marks come so automatically that you can fill a quarter page without much thought. I'm not asking you to fill a quarter page right now, but that's the goal ability. I'm mixing up just a quantity of paint. It doesn't have to be green, but green might help you visualize what it might look like as foliage. On your page for M, I want you into just go nice amount of paint on your brush, nice and wet without being drippy. We're going to start with making Ms. I'm just using a size 10 brush initially, and we're just overlapping. That's all pretty much one type of M, just a standard. Now I'm going to take that first stroke off, because you may have noticed that I was going down and then up and down, and then down again, which is your lowercase m. But what happens if I leave that first down stroke out and I just start with two humps. I'm just using cartridge paper, nice heavyweight, I think this is 140 pound or 140 GSM paper. You can see now that I've got a patch of Ms. Its harder to tell that that's the original mark that I started with. It just looks like I've managed to make some coverage on the page. Here we go. What happens if we start going in and varying the tone slightly? Again, this is just cartridge paper, so watercolor paper will behave a little bit differently. But now I can really begin to vary things and let them bleed into one another, and maybe trickle out in this direction. Even let my brush get dryer, add a little bit of texture. There is a standardized M. I haven't really mixed it up that much, but what if we wanted a slightly different mark? What if I give tall? Again, the only thing I'm doing is varying an alphabet letter. What this does is it just takes the overthinking out of the equation. You're no longer thinking, "Oh gosh, I've got to make really specific marks that are very, very, very convincing." This is all about just coverage, and then finessing. Two completely different looks, same alphabet letter. Lets keep going on the page. There's a bunch of short ones. I'm going to spread these out just a little bit, so you can begin to see where I'm coming from with this technique. Some darks in there. Do I have enough liquid in my dark? Here we go. Same movement. Shallow Ms. Just do a little bit more. Maybe just fun and come up and get just a third color. It doesn't show up that much because I didn't plan this part, but just to show some differentiation in color. Again, still doing the same mark, but because I'm layering and I'm letting the paints bleed into one another, I get this completely different effect. Now, I hope you can see where it might be coming from when I began thinking about making trees. All of a sudden we begin to see where just having a simple automatic pattern can begin to bring something to life without a lot of effort. We've still got more Ms we can do. It's a little too lose. Same letter. Different look. When it's a bit loopy or tends to look a bit more whimsical, but lots of fun. Now we move on to the letter O. Again, how many different ways can you draw an O? If you've taken my creating small mini masterpieces with big impact class, then you'll remember the beams exercise. Well, today we'll call them Os, but it's really the same mark in essence. Just like the M, try them wide, slim, short and balloonish. X has to be my favorite for quick automatic marking. There's something so easy and natural about a crisscross mark. With x will focus on the randomness of the marks, so we'll mix it up. Again, nice wet brush, lots of paint. You can mix up. How much pigment you have. Get more intense areas. Crisscrosses. This is back to my size 10 brush. I love doing X patterns. Now, what happens when we mix it up? Get a little bit more random. The colors I'm using right now in my dish are Viridian Green and Payne's Grey. Nothing special, nothing too expensive, just something perfect for practice. Flashes of the letter I are so versatile. Try long, short, fat, slim, and wispy. W, similar to the m, the upside-down, so let's take the ideas of the M and flip it. This one is great for grasses too. Most of the other letters, the U makes for really unique trees and leaves and has a beautiful effect. So far we've done the letters in viridian and Payne's, which isn't really a very realistic color combination for leaves. But I want to show you just some examples of how just changing up your color palette can make the leaves a lot more realistic. Here's some letters that I did earlier. Here's M, O And W, and also X, U and I. You can see just by changing up your color palette just a little bit to you can make this simple alphabet letters look very very natural. For our final mark, V, similar to the W, but a little more abbreviated. 4. Exercise: Colour Considerations: Leaves and Bark: Earlier you studied and gathered some photos of trees and grasses you like. Now let's break down the colors you need. You can, of course, figure out the colors by eye and spend some times watching what you observe and narrowing down a simplified palette based on what you've learned about your subject. This is an indispensable skill, but takes time to master. It's time well spent. Don't get me wrong, and you should learn to do this. But we can also use digital tools to our advantage. In my class, Quiet or Riot Color Communication in Your Art, I introduced you to free Adobe tools; color and capture. Color is found at That's color is spelled in the American sense, Capture is available for smartphones and tablets. It's super simple to swatch on the go. If you want to learn more about how to use those tools, I recommend taking that class. If you don't want to be particularly specific in your color scheme, then making a simple natural palette is a great place to start. Here's a palette which I'm going to use in my examples that you may like to mix for yourself. For generic foliage, you'll need at least light, medium, and dark leaves, perhaps a pale shadow and some extra dark shadowy green for emphasis. Here's a formula, and I'll include two more generic example palettes, one for summer and one for early autumn in the downloadable. For this one that we're going to do live, you're going to need sap green, Payne's gray, cadmium yellow, and raw umber. I'm using Winsor & Newton brand. I'm just putting a little sap green into two wells on an empty palette. Sap green plus Payne's gray can make the darkest. Just use the little bit of sap and Payne's that's on the brush still. There is a lovely mid. You can get the darkest and the mid tone for foliage out of just Payne's gray and sap green. Then again, drawing a little bit more sap green and cadmium yellow, which is coming from my palette. That makes a fantastic pale green. We've got light, medium, and dark. Grabbing some more sap green. I do love sap green, it's such a good, versatile green. Sap green plus a bit of raw umber will give you a bit of a neutral green, somewhere in the middle. It's a little more springy. These are a little more blue and deep. This is a little more springy. You can see that this would go well with something that's got some yellow in it. Finally, some very well thinned Payne's gray. Here's a lovely shadowy color. If you feel you need to tint it slightly, then just take something like raw umber. Just pop a little bit of that in there just to tone it a little bit. If you don't have those specific colors, work with what you have, exploring how you can make convincing natural foliage colors. It's so important to experiment with color mixing to fully understand the range you can create. Remember to try to mix as few standard tube or Payne's hues as possible to avoid muddy colors. In most cases, I mix only two hues, and only occasionally three. The more you add to the mix, the more you create competition with the pigments, and they will often become drab, flat and subdued. This may be desirable in some cases, but my advice is that if you can't make a suitable color with just two hues, perhaps try a different color combination to get the right mix. I know rules are meant to be broken, but if you try to stick to this guidance, you'll have better results with the visual strength of your work. Now colors for tree trunks. Here is a simple generic formula for bark. You'll still want a light, medium, and dark to work with. We're going to mix burnt umber and Payne's gray. I'm just going to pop some burnt umber into a couple of wells on a clean palette. Now we're going to add Payne's. Payne's is such a strong color. But if we add just a little bit of it to burnt umber, we get this fantastic dark chocolate brown. Really good brown. It's fairly neutral as well. What happens if we add even less of the Payne's to the burnt umber? You can see the dominance coming through with the warmer color now. Just the lightest touch to tone the burnt umber. I'll just pick up a little bit from my mid color just to tint a little bit more. It's enough to help keep everything looking like it's in the same family without taking away that beautiful reddish hue. I've used burnt umber and Payne's gray here. You can see that by swinging the dominance to either burnt umber or Payne's, you can create a trio of very convincing trunk and branch colors. Burnt umber is a warm hue and Payne's gray is cool. By mixing them at different strengths, you begin to neutralize the dominant tone. When it's mostly burnt umber, the color is still fairly warm, but a little subdued by the cool Payne's gray. By doing the opposite, you can see how you can create a much more shadowy brown. If you mix the two hues together evenly, look at that, you create a very natural black. Depending on the type of wood you have in mind, you may want a more rosy or purple tone, something more rusty, or orange, or much cooler in general. Experiment with what you have, and remember to create a family of light, medium, and dark colors. 5. Project: Building Trees - Part 1: You've done your research and drawn confident skeletal tree shapes. You've learned [inaudible] and you've figured out your colors. Let's build some trees. Get out a sheet of cartridge paper. No sense in using your expensive watercolor paper just yet. We want to just do some practice with the maps. First thing I want you to do, is pick up a little bit of very watered down very full brush of just a shadowy color, similar to dirty water color. We're going to just do a basic tree. I want you to hold your brush somewhere between the mid and the end of your brush. I'm just using a number 10 round right now. Give yourself some good pressure at the base and then begin to lighten the pressure, raising your hand up so that you get a mark that is wider at the bottom, so the bottom at the base of the trunk and gets thinner as it goes up. We're going to do that again, right over top of it, a little bit overlap and allow it to get spindly up at the top. Now we're going to choose alternating branches. Remember, we're doing the smiling branch styles, so branches that reach up towards the sky. Once you know this technique, you can begin experimenting with things like maybe weeping willows or certain kinds of pines that like to drape their branches downward. But right now let's focus on smiling branches, branches that are reaching up to the sun. With the branches, I'm just really lightly touching the brush to paper. Allowing the brush to twist in my fingertips. Just allowing that little extra organic randomness to occur. That's pretty good for just a basic tree shape in shadowy tunes. Now, I'm going to pick up my lightest of my bark colors. I'm going to start dropping that in. I'm tracing over where I've already been with the shadowy color. It's okay if you go outside of where you've been, because it's really organic and you're not going to really know that anything is a mistake once we're done. Let watercolor be watercolor, and let your trees be really natural. That's my lightest color. I'm going to go in and grab some of my mid. I'm just going to widen this base, maybe add a little bit of a root. Coming down from there, some allowing little gaps, to happen. Because that looks really nice and natural and it gives the impression of a rough texture. With this midtone, you can just drop it in, in places because the surface of a tree, has its peaks and its valleys, it's uneven texture. Try to allow a little bit of randomness as you go. Here we go, resisting the urge to add too many branches, because you don't need that complication yet. Now I've got my darkest, and I've chosen this side to be my shadowy side. Just popping some of that in there. I don't think it's quite dark enough for my taste, so I'm just going to add a little bit more Payne's gray. There we go. Really wet and blobby. Knowing where your light source is. On my tree my light sources coming from the left, which means my right side is the more shadowy side. Now I'm just going to pull out some of these pools a little bit. Taking my brush, blotting it, I'm going in, I'm just removing a little bit of that excess paint. Remember, we're just doing this on cartridge paper, so basic sketchbook paper. It will buckle a little but it will flatten out. If we removed little bits here and there, I like that I can begin to see the differences in the bark tones. I'm just going to go in and do that little bit, of variety. I'm taking a little bit of just plain paints, I'm dotting it in. Because when you go out and you look at a tree, trees are not just brown, I guarantee you'll see bluish tones, grayish tones, sometimes purple, definitely green. Just dot it a little bit of that paint in there. I'm going to go back and I'm going to pick up a little bit of sap green also. That was a lot of sap green. Blot my brush, picks some of that up. I'm just going to move it. This is our first tree, this a tester tree. Don't worry, too much about how it's going, because this is your first, you're going to learn a lot from this one. I rather like the way that looks. I'm going to leave that to dry and then we'll see how it looks when we come back to it. You might be a little bit skeptical even with practice working on cartridge paper, but I just want to show you some of the examples that I have from before, and these are all on just cheap cartridge paper. But look at the way that's dried and look at those fantastic textures. A little more work with this and adding the foliage, it will be beautiful. Here's another beautiful simple one, just looking at the way that the different paints have reacted and bled into one another. Look how magical things become when you just add that little bit of grass. All of a sudden, it just brings it into reality and you notice the texture on these trees. It's a little more intense. Now, that's because before it got to drying, I added a little bit of salt. Now salt can be used to great effect with watercolor, because it makes these fantastic spidery marks and pockets of almost bleached looking variety, just gives it that little extra barkness, if you will. Next, we will practice on watercolor paper. We're going to go through the same procedure. We pick up some very watery gray type color. It's our watered-down paints with a little touch of the umber. I like that shape as a beginning and I'm still going to go in and I'm going to add just a little bit of support route on this side, because I think it's pretty, give it a little bit there, great. Now picking up some of your lightest of your browns. Now I'm just going to go in and grab my midtone, and right in the middle of my tree, am bringing it up. I'm being a little bit more random and blobby in this tone. there we go. A little bit of refining. Now my darkest, which is the Payne's gray and burnt umber. I've decided that my light source is coming from the left again, so I'm only adding that darkest color to where I believe it will appear on the right. I'm not going go too far up into the wee branches because up in those little branches, we can make our little modifications towards the end after we've got our foliage in place. We're going to have to mix up some more paint. Because I recorded a whole section of this well I thought I recorded it. Have got all these examples sitting over and I'm [inaudible] next to me. I forgot to press record, first time I've ever done that. It's a bit disappointing. I'll show you the examples anyway. That's where I'm going to leave that. But we're going to go that little extra mile and put a little bit of salt into it. Just a little bit. Now I'm going to let that dry. 6. Project: Building Trees - Part 2: I mentioned that I had done an entire example and forgot to hit record on the video, which is a big silly thing that I've never done before. But these were the trees that you missed me filming. Here's one on cartridge paper and I just love how this all bled together as almost a tie dyed tree. It's really quite remarkable, very unrealistic in the way that it ended up drawing. But that's all right because now that it's dry and I could finesse certain things. Adding shadowy bits and some detail. Not too much, but a little bit here and there. Just to bring it into reality again. If what you produce seems a bit disappointing at first, don't worry. To see what a little extra play can do. We're learning so don't be afraid. You have to make a lot of really bad art to get to the good stuff, I promise, I made years a bad art. We all go through it. You can see already just by finessing it a little bit with some darks, adding some more contrast. It is already becoming a better tree trunks. Once that dries, it's going to look pretty cool. That was one of the one that have filmed, but didn't film. Here is the one that I did on watercolor paper that also I completely neglected to film. But that's okay because you get to see more examples now. That's how I'm going to justify it. Again, I think the way this one dried, I want to add a little bit more contrast. Because one of the ways that you can tell a timid painter or an amateur painter. In other ways you can tell, and this is actually for drawing too is a lack of contrast. What I mean is that you hear me bang on about light medium and dark tones. It never fails because I used to teach a lot of figurative portraiture and life drawing and that thing and it never fails. People are afraid to add the darkest areas. Oftentimes when you see, especially students, young students, say young teens or pre-teens, that thing. When they do pencil sketches or pencil portraits, they're very gray and you very rarely see black blacks. If you think about where hair and ear meet with the neck, there's often a really dark shadow that happens in that area and nine times out of 10, someone who is uncomfortable or feeling a little less confident will make that a much lighter tone than it is in reality. Try to not be afraid of contrast. Contrast adds interest and it adds depth and adds realism and when you go out and you look at things as they are in nature, you'll find these pockets of contrast that we often ignore. Now the two examples that you actually saw me create. Both of them, here's the one on cartridge paper. They're really like some of the very subtle bits that are happening as we get some bleed into each of those colors, because we added a little bit of green and we added a little bit of paints, make this a really lovely, varied texture to the tree. Here was the one on watercolor paper. We did add salt to both of these, but I didn't add a lot of salt, so there's only a little bit of extra texture in there. But I think both of them look pretty good. I might just take the one on cartridge to little bit of that finessing of the dark areas of contrast in the shadow of this. Right now, let's look at putting leaves on because that's what we're here to do is complete these trees because right now we've just got winter trees. What I want you to do is I want you to use the greens that you've created earlier. These are my Sap greens with Raw umber and Payne's gray, so got that they're set aside one of them has Cadmium yellow in it. That's Sap and Cadmium. First things first, let's just take a medium tone and get my brush nice and saturated mixture. It's nice and mixed up. I keep having to revive these paints because I've filmed this over a couple of days and so keep rewetting and remixing my paints. What we're going to start with is probably the easiest one of all, and that is the x-mark. I'm going to start on this side and I'm going to just put a handful of very wet Xs where I think I'm going to have boughs of leaves growing. Resist the urge to make any marks, any movements beyond Xs at this point. These can be really nice and blobby. Lots and lots of very wet paint on your brush. If you go off to your page, that's fine. If you run out of space on your page, try to just paint off the edge as if you've got paper there. Is nothing worse than trying to cram something onto a page because it will always look strange. Now I'm going to go into my lightest, my highlight color, which is my Cadmium yellow with Sap green. I'm going to still make x marks. I said that my light source is coming from the left so I'm doing my best to only put that color where it makes sense and letting them bleed into one another. We're making a little bit more of a realistic tree with this one. Now some of my shadowy dark color, which is my darkest version of Sap green and Payne's gray. Just filling but I'm not completely blocking out the white gaps. It's really important to leave some of those. You'll need to leave all of them. Remember, go back to your studies of trees and look at the way leaves occur in nature. Like with what I'm doing now, very rarely do you have just dark, shadowy. Dark shadowy bits without any light at all. I'm going to go back now because I've been refining where I'm putting all of my greens, all my leaves, my bowels, refining that and the shape of my tree. I will mix it up a little bit. I'm going to just change my hand position a little bit. Changing my Xs giving some variety to my marks. Sometimes you won't even see how a branch really connects. It's okay if you just throw a couple of leaves into what seems like outer space, it will make sense to the eye, especially once you have a background that you're working with as well. It's coming in with a wet brush, blending some of those together, again using the x mark, still using the same MOXIWOV mark that we learned earlier. Now, just to add a little bit more to what's going on. Just take side of my round brush, add some dry brush around the base of my tree. Just really scrubby and scratchy. Now and take one of our other MOXIWOV marks. These are the vs. Again, just writing the letter v. If you want to mix it up a little bit, maybe pick up some of the Cadmium stuff. Just going to add some Os, just loose. Nobody's going to know there are Os. See, you can use these marks very successfully in grasses, shrubs, and all things. Go in with some shadow. Just let that bleed in. The paint naturally wants to travel where it's already got wet channels, and all of a sudden, you have a fairly realistic and believable tray. You now know the process now to making something like this. It's a heck of a lot more simple than if you would just approach it, having no idea that I was doing alphabet letters or that there was a particular structure to doing the tree. Once you break everything down, it's just process and practice. What about doing it on a water color paper? I'm going to go in and this is one that I haven't done a little extra shadow in the trunk yet. That's good enough for me for now because I can always go in and do more. Again, taking my mid tone, this time I'm going do use. You wouldn't think something like this would work very well, but I promise it will. As you remember in our practice, we made lots of different marks, different sizes, keeping it really nice and wet helps everything blend together. With your first pass, don't expect to have the shape of your tree down perfectly. Take advantage of some of those light spaces on the branches that you drew, and allow stuff to overlap. That's my first color. I'm going to with the shadowy stuff next, just to mix it up a little. Changing size and how much pressure I add, still using a U mark. It's not easy to make marks while your hand isn't resting on the paper, but I'll do my best. Oftentimes, it helps to just take your pressure away from the tip. You can see him holding it about two-thirds of the way up. My Us are a little bit shallow now, just dipped into some of that excess paint. Do you have any idea what kind of tree this would be? It doesn't matter. That's what kind of tree this is. It's a fun tree. That's where I'm going to stop on that one. Again, a little bit of scrubby stuff at the bottom, and this time I'm going to do Ws, W, W, W. It gives a very different feel to the grasses than the previous marks on the previous piece. There we have it, another of our trees. Now if you would like to add a little bit more visual interest, try it with some salt. See what happens. Now say you want to branch out from the color palette that we've just generically created for our examples in our practice, that's fine too. Here are a couple of samples that I created using the X mark. Both of these are using the X mark. Both of them are using really wet brushes to do that with, so allowing things to bleed. But you can still tell that there are X marks in there. This one still uses SAP, it still uses Payne's gray, but also it's using yellow ocher inside there as well. I'm using a bit of the cadmium yellow. That's very summary. But on this side, on the left, we've got something that's maybe an early autumn, just as the leaves are starting to change on the deciduous trees, again, using the similar base greens, but I'm using light red and some pure yellow as the highlight foliage, so beginning to bring in that change of seasons. Why stop there? Let's go and do something with another of our letters. Maybe let's try O for this one. I started with my darkest color first. You can start with whichever one feels right to you. Using the O definitely makes slightly more whimsical looking tray. They create on more folk art stuff, crafts. The color I'm adding now is that bridging color between warm and cool that is made up of sap green and raw umber, and there you've got O. One final way you can use this technique is to add detail to something you've already got some color blocked out before. Here, I've just put down a variety of tones and I'm just going to go in with my favorite mark, the X mark. It's almost like adding stuff in-focus on top of what you've already got in place. You can have that base layer and then just bring in a little bit of focus. This is one way to make the technique very natural-looking. I love the way it looks. When you put the marks, the MAC SeaWorld marks, put them over top of some very loose walsh. Looks fantastic. There you have another way of using the technique. It looks good. I wish I'd put it on a trunk instead of putting it on the back of a drills paper. Remember, I always tell you to be practicing? I do. 7. Project: Building Trees - Part 3: This is a tree that I created earlier and now we're just going to pop in a little bit of context. I'm going to create a little bit of a composition just on an already dry finished trace, which is going to loose horizon. I'm going to just muddy that up a little bit so that it looks a bit more natural as background. To dry brush off a little bit. Just banging something in really quickly, just to show you how good these trees can look once they're in a composition. I'll just add a little bit more shadow to grasses right here up close. Here we go. I could work on that a little bit more, but I think you get the idea. Actually, I will put in that little line over here. But I think you get the idea about how you can use these trees in a composition. I had a play with creating the same tree for four different seasons, and I thought it was a really fun exercise. Using the way that we create the basic tree, using the wide base trunk, going up to a more slender top and then having those smiling branches come off, it might be a fun exercise for you to try creating it four times over and then adding leaves for the various different seasons. I really like my summer tree. My bottom line is cool, but my spring, I would do a little bit differently. But again, it was just an exercise I had in mind. I thought I'd try it. You might like to try it too. Something I was working on with a student here in the studio was a landscape that she had taken a photograph of. There was this wide variety, a foliage on a river bank, or a canal bank, or something like that. We were beginning to block out using that same technique that we used here, using the washes of color and then going over top of it once that was dry and finessing it. We had just started doing that with all of these brilliant colors. It can be really fun to see how all of these different layers interact with one another. I think I'll go in and I'll do some more work on this. But I just wanted to show you how beautiful and vibrant and how easy it is as long as you keep your layers nice and wet to begin with. A nice wet wash layer, just mapping out the color zones, and then let that dry, and then going over it really wet, over dry and bringing in those wet marks. Here I'm going to just quickly go through some of the stages using one of these compositions. Just need to let that dry before I record the next section which will be putting the marks over top. We're back in. This has dried beautifully. Look at the back runs that are happening inside these different colors. It's absolutely beautiful. I'm going to add some maxi web marks now to just bring some bits and pieces into focus. Thinking about it logically, things that are further away from you are going to be a little bit more nebulous, little less detailed. Things that are closer, we are going to sharpen those a little bit. That's where I'm going to leave it. It still managed to stay really loose. I didn't go overboard with the detail, but it's also got that real depth sense because you've got your light medium and dark. 8. Final Thoughts & Thank You: Thank you for joining me for painting trees with the ABCs. We covered so much in these videos and I know you will have grown in your confidence in creating trees from your own imagination, as well as how to interpret what you observe. Remember to really look at what you see in nature for guidance on your color palette and how trees interact with their environments. By practicing the techniques you've learned in this class, you're going to make beautiful work. Thank you so much for being my student and I look forward to your uploads into the projects section. Show me your practice marks, your tree trunks, your color swatches, sketches, and trees. I try my best to visit every uploading comment, so show me what you create. If you post to Instagram, be sure to tag me @jendixonarts, so I can have a look there. I know many of you have learned with me before, but if this is your first class, don't forget to hit the Follow button for upcoming class announcements and more. If you enjoyed what you saw today, please take a moment to leave a positive review. If you have any questions, ask me in the discussion section and I'll do my very best to help. Until next time, have a great day and never stop learning.