How to Paint an Apple Tree in Oil Paint – By Request Tutorial

How to Paint an Apple Tree in Oil Paint – By Request Tutorial


Hey everyone welcome back for another
“by request” tutorial. I had requests a little while back for an apple tree, so
let’s get started. Now there are many varieties of apple trees, and it seems to
matter greatly how that apple tree is left to grow. I’m not an expert in apple
trees by any means, but from what I gather from visiting a local orchard and
talking to the farmer there, an orchard tree is pruned and cared for obviously
to ensure a nice yield of apples. If you let your apple tree grow to nature, it
might end up taking a bit of a different shape and appearance as some of these
pictures suggest. For today I’m going to try to split the difference
a bit and get somewhere in between. For starters, I am working on Arches oil
paper. For the paint, I am working with Charvin and Gamblin paints. I have
Cinnabar Green for the highlight, a mixture of Cinnabar Green and Sap Green
and the smallest amount of Alizarin Crimson to reduce the chroma for a mid-tone; and Sap Green for the leaves and shadow.
For the apples I have Alizarin Crimson for the shadow, Alizarin Crimson mixed
with Titanium White and a touch of Perylene Red to intensify the chroma for
a mid-tone; that same mixture with more Titanium White for the highlight; and
Titanium White for any little touches of highlight we might need. I am working
primarily with a Loew Cornell 7350 liner brush and a Vienna spotter brush. What I did learn from my trip to the
orchard was that apple trees grow in V shapes and multiply V shapes
off the original V, which is what I have painted in here. I used a cool-toned brown
for this, but again I have seen trunk bases range on apple trees from cool to
warm so any brown is going to be fine for this. I painted this structure and
allowed it to dry. Now we can get started! The next thing we need to take a look at
is the shape of the leaves. For an apple tree, you have an almond shaped leaf that
mirrors the Vs of the tree’s growth, by V-ing upwards on each side. This is
important to keep in mind as it will create instant areas of light and shadow
on each leaf. The light will hit certain points of the leaves and leave other
areas in shadows due to this V. As usual, I will be thinning out my paint
occasionally with some Painting Medium, especially in my greens. You may or may
not need to use this yourself during the first part of this process, but I find it
helps with a drag on oil paper. For leaves, you want to load your brush
up with paint that is thinned to your satisfaction. We’re going to be doing a
little bit of shaping with our brush, so the loading is important. To demonstrate
how I will be painting the leaves, as you can see here, I am putting pressure down
on my brush, unloading a bunch of paint, and then as I drag my brush I lessen the
pressure to a tip. This is much easier than going through your tree making an
almond shape on the leaves with excessive brush strokes. Alternatively,
you can also work from tip to base, using light pressure, intensifying the pressure,
and then lifting your brush back to a light pressure before removing. Now to
get started! For this type of tree, since it’s not a free-form tree, it really is
sort of like building a tree leaf by leaf. Pay attention to the structure
you’ve given your tree and start to build the leaves on. You are springtime!
De-winterize your tree and have some fun here! In my apple tree research, I did note
that the area of the tree where the branches start to jut out from the trunk
aren’t plentiful with leaves. Again, I don’t know if this is a pruning thing to
ensure a proper oxygen flow as I was recommended to do for my roses, or if
this is the natural way an apple tree grows if left in nature. Check out some
photos and decide what you’d like to do. I felt like I should have visually
explained the opposite way to make the leaves, so here’s another example.
Starting with a paint-loaded brush, apply light pressure at the tip of your brush,
and add more pressure as you drag your brush, and then lift off again to form a
more almond shape. Easy peasy! If you need to practice on some scrap
paper before you get to work on your canvas, that’s always good. Apple trees in
an orchard are also not too densely packed with leaves. There are plenty, but
there is a lot of space with which to see through the leaves to the background,
so be certain not to get too heavy-handed with the leaves for this
type of tree. I’m going to continue on here with that
technique, getting leaves in a nice, balanced looking placement. Now the one thing you should not do is
be to individual about your leaves. We would not see each individual leaf in
nature without other leaves atop or below the leaves, so be sure not to paint
it that way on your own canvas. You can start that way as I’m doing here, just to
lay things out, but as you see here, take some time to get messy with your leaves.
Just throw in some areas of color that will suggest a larger clump of leaves
and also suggest that you have leaves on the backside of your tree. remember,
there are four sides to the tree, and you must keep that in mind as you move
forward. Okay! Time to let this dry! Pop your palette in the freezer to save your
paint and come back to work on this one and have completely dried. Now for the highlights! Decide on a light source. My sunlight is coming mainly from the top,
but a little bit angled. Maybe it’s two o’clock in this picture at thereabouts.
Now, the thing to remember with apple trees is that these leaves aren’t super
reflective. They’re not shiny leaves as some leaves can be. They’re very matte
and do not bounce a ton of light, so you’re not going to want to go hog-wild
with your contrast for this type of tree. Show some highlight, but it should be a
nice, happy little subtle contrast. It should not scream, “Look how I shine in
the sunlight!!” Also note, that I am using some of the
existing darker leaves and highlighting part of the V on those, but in other
instances, I’m painting lighter leaves on top of the darker leaves, making the
front of the tree pulled towards the viewer more. Some leaves are going in one
direction, some in another; because, again, it’s a four-sided object. I find with
trees especially, it becomes too easy to think that they are a one-sided object
the longer you work on them. Place yourself in the picture. Stand to the
left of the tree, stand to the right of the tree in your mind’s eye, and note how
some of the leaves come towards you and some go away from you. Add this to your
brush strokes. This is also where we start to remember
the V-shaped structure of the leaves. As you see me continue on, you’ll see how
sometimes, only part of the leaves will get a highlight, and other parts will
remain in shadow. Trees never read correctly with too much uniformity, so
try to resist the urge to highlight every leaf the same way. Some go this way,
some go that way, some are partly shaded, some are fully in
the sun. Keep it real. Study your tree and see how it plays in the sunlight. I am going in here to use my lighter
highlight color and giving a little bit more contrast here to the areas that are
in perfect angle to grab some extra sunshine. Okay, that’s it for this step.
Again, freeze that palette and we’ll come back to finish this when it’s dry. Now for the fun part! All of those lovely
apples! I decided my tree will be a red apple tree so I’m going to go in with
that mid-tone and start mapping out exactly where I want all of my apples to
be. Apples grow in bunches, not one here, here, and here,
so you will see me in group my apples as I go on. I will put some apples behind
leaves and some in front of leaves, apples behind apples, and apples in the
background. Resist the temptation to hang apples on your tree like Christmas
ornaments. Since we have a four-sided tree, I have
added some apples that are growing on the backside of the tree by simply
laying in some areas of color in the negative spaces between the leaves. Later,
I will cover these using straight Alizarin Crimson for that since we would
only see the shadowed side of the backside of the apple. But for now, I’m painting
them in the mid-tone to give the more transparent Alizarin Crimson something
to hold on to and act a little more as an opaque color. Now that that’s done, it’s time to add
some shadows and highlights to these apples and make them read as round fruit.
Our mid-tone is still wet, which makes this easier to accomplish.
I’m thinning down with that Alizarin Crimson with some Painting Medium
because if any of you watched my Pro Tips video, thinned paint sticks to thick paint,
but not the other way around. We want the Alizarin Crimson to play
with our mid-tone so a thinner consistency is helpful. I’m starting at
the base and creating the shadow area and blending it in with that mid-tone to
create a gradient effect of roundness. I will then come in with my highlight
color and add that area of highlight from the sun. Also, this might be nitpicking, but
remember that the apples you buy in the store are coated with a wax to make
them shinier and more visually appealing. They are not that shiny on the tree, so
don’t try to replicate this shine on yours if you’d like it to read correctly. Now for a couple of dots of Titanium
White to highlight a few of the apples, and I will call this complete! This is
the basic way I paint an apple tree for a general landscape. This apple tree is not
the focal point of your painting. If your apple tree is the subject of your
painting, I would go for a little more detail on the leaves and the trunk. But, since
most of you, I would imagine, are not using an apple tree as your one subject,
I’m stopping here for my “10% Rule”, as I have discussed in my other videos. Leave
the rest for the viewer to create. Thank you again for joining me for another
tutorial! I hope you enjoyed this one as much as I enjoyed creating it, especially
as we move into the harvest season. As always if you have any questions or
requests please feel free to put them down in the comment section below. Let me
know if you try this tutorial as well! You can tag me on Instagram if you’d like
to show me your brilliant work! Have a lovely day, everyone! Happy painting!

One Comment

  • Devyn Samara says:

    I let way too much time elapse between doing the structure and the highlights and was totally not paying attention. I should have gone with a 10 o'clock sunlight to match the highlight on the trunk, but I totally spaced. Don't space out like I did. Match your trunk's light source to your canopy's light source. Sorry!! Make your tree extra awesome and go in at the end of this process and add areas of light and shadow to your trunk as your light source is pouring through the leaves. #canwecallitartisticlicense #ineedmoresleep

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *