I think how the tree series is going to go, is I will post one small fact, idea or lesson a day for a while. There is so much to say and that seems to be an orderly way to do it.
Here is a masterpiece by Corot. This painting is a near perfect design and the sparkling accents and silvery and olive tones give it an enchanting feeling. I chose this painting because it illustrates a concept that is important in drawing trees, constant taper.
You may have read Victorian writers who praised a woman's pale complexion (that was thought highly desirable) and her TAPERING limbs. The ideal figure of the 19th century would often have a wider middle, or a more hour glass sort of silhouette than might be popular today. But they also prized very small hands and feet. The idea was that her arms and legs tapered in a smooth and continual decrease. Here is an Ingres that does that.
Look at the left leg or the arm of this painting and see what I mean.
Trees do the same thing, each section of the tree as it grows further from the ground, decreases in size. The trunk is the thickest part and the large branches leaving the trunk are the next largest, from that arise smaller and smaller branches and twigs, growing ever thinner still. This gives a grace and an essential logic to the appearance of a tree.
So when representing trees, look for the constant reduction or taper as each structure grows further from the root. If you ignore this you will get a clumsy unnatural look. HOWEVER there are a couple of complicating factors. The reducing size of the trees limbs behave in a slightly different manner than the limbs of the comely maidens of La Belle Epoche. Tomorrow I will build on the principle of continual taper.