Monday, January 25, 2010

Perspective in the masses of trees

image from, the fabulous online museum and incomparable free resource for artists, art lovers, and historians check it out here.

Above is a Ruisdael that looks like some of the tree photos I have been showing. Here is a landscape painter showing his love for trees. I think there is something very inviting about this picture. I too would like to walk up that road, take the left and visit the little cottage behind the tree. There is a contemporary painter who also paints little cottages. Notice the elegance and restraint of this painting from the mid 1600's. Different trees have different characteristics, like people. Some are strong and enduring and some are lithe and graceful. Just as if you were painting a portrait you need to ask yourself, what is it that makes this tree, THIS TREE?

It is important also to observe the different proportions of one part of the tree as compared to others, a common mistake is to exaggerate the stem, or trunk of the tree. Perhaps because it is at our eye level that we are so obsessed with it, Someone once said the trunk of a tree is about the same size relative to the rest of a tree as the stem is to an apple. While this is not always true, it does point out the great variation from the ordinary unobserved representation of a tree seen in the wall paper borders in restaurant bathrooms.

Look at the altered photo below, I want to show you something else.

With those rudely drawn boxes, I hope to illustrate something else. That tree is not a flat shape, it is a three dimensional object perspected in space. Its forms are subject to the same vanishing points as everything else in the landscape.

One of the ideas of perspective is that everything above your eye level will have perspecting lines that run downwards. So look for those, and show you know em. They are not very obvious but look for their influence. That will get the foliage and body of the tree up into the air, and over your head where it belongs. Unless you observe the perspective indicated by those boxes you will have a straight on view of the entire tree.You look at the lower part of a tree, and up at the higher parts, at least until it is some distance from you. I have seen a lot of landscapes where the top of the tree is seen from the same straight on point of view as its trunk. I have made a few of those myself.

Snowcamp one is filled and I have only two more slots left in Snowcamp W, if you still want to come, click here.


Stapleton Kearns said...

No comments? I have got to unpack those extra baby rabbits.

Gregory Becker said...

I read a book by Stanley Maltzman, Drawing Nature. In it he details another good way to reenforce that perspective problem and that is to draw the limbs above the horizon darker than the ones that are below the horizon. The idea being that light falling on the limbs will be more visible on the limbs below the horizon than above. He also has another book called Drawing Trees.
Have you encountered that?
I knew as soon as I saw those clouds that you posted a Ruisdael. I love that guy. A fellow cloud enthusiast.

billspaintingmn said...

Stape, good point!
All these careful considerations
help to render a more realistic tree, hence, show 'em you know 'em.
Your helping me to get a more mature, or personality into the painting.
Thanks for all these post. They are rabbits out of a hat!

2willowsart said...

Hi Stape. These postings are terrific. I wonder if you be getting into ideas on how to handle painting trees after they have dropped their leaves. There are subtle smokey effects and colours that are tricky to paint.



barbara b. land of boz said...

Stapleton, good points to tuck away in the almost full memory banks. Gosh,the older I get........
Number one rule in my book is "Don't paint under tree's in a thunder storm!! I don't like spiders and snakes either.
barbara b.

Philip Koch said...

No need for the extra crate of baby rabbits.

I agree with Stape that Ruisdael had a marvelous sense of trees- one can sense an individual personality in the ones he features. Gregory comment is also on target about Ruisdael's clouds. There is a wonderful movement that flows through both the clouds and the trees, almost as if they are dancing together. Come to think of it if you go for a walk on a breezy day, that is very much the impression nature gives you. Ruisdael was a good enough painter to get that into his canvases.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I don't know that book. I guess I don't see how I would apply that. Are there diagrams in the book?

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thank you. The rabbits are marching infinitely out of the hat. The hat is a hole in the rabbit world without a bottom like those mobius bottles in the science book.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Yes, I will try to remember to cover that.It is something I do a lot.

Stapleton Kearns said...

WE don't have venomous snakes here in New Hampshire. We do have a few spiders but I don't worry about them.Nature is pretty benign here, but it does get cold.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I will leave them crated and in their freeze dried state until I need them.
You add a lot to his blog. I appreciate that. Thanks.

Gregory Becker said...

No diagrams but superb drawings.