31 January

A Tree Grows

It's wonderful to see all the projects and art class lessons this tutorial has inspired. Please keep sharing photos of your artworks with me (my email address is in my blogger profile) - I love seeing them!  If you share images online, please acknowledge me as the original artist and share a link to my blog.

Unfortunately, I do need to remind readers that the original "Tree and Stars" painting is protected by copyright (as are all my images), which means that the use of this tutorial to create artwork or craft projects for exhibition or sale, or to create art class lessons for profit, is not allowed without my consent.  

Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about the appropriate use of my images.  If you are interested in discussing a licensing agreement to create a commercial product, send me an email or Facebook message and we can discuss it.  Thank you!

I've been thinking a lot lately about the importance of dropping keys (even when we don't think we have any to drop - but that's another post) and about the lovely, generous souls who share the tutorials I appreciate so much. 

So... I thought it would be fun to post a step-by-step of my own.  There's nothing new or ground-breaking here, but I've had a few enquiries about how they are made and thought it would be fun to share.  I spent a couple of pleasant days painting on my verandah recently, creating this work for a group exhibition, and decided to document the process as I went.

1.  First I draw my image, and colour it in with oil pastels.  My favourites are Caran d'Ache neopastels, because they're beautifully soft and pigment rich, but there are many other great brands available.  The bits that will be painted in acrylics later I leave bare, because acrylic over oil pastel is against all the rules, and well... just doesn't work too well.

2.  Here's a close-up.  The initial colouring in isn't very neat, but that doesn't matter.

3.  I use an embossing tool (or the pointy end of a knitting needle when I can't find the embossing tool!) to scratch into the oil pastel.  I wipe the excess off the end of the tool as I go.

4.  Ahhh... lovely texture :)

5.  And again... just because.

6.  I make up a very watery watercolour mix.  My favourites are these Winsor & Newton ones, and as you can see I'm nearly out of the dark brown I like best.

7.  Sometimes I add a tiny bit of tube watercolour, because it seems to have more "stickability".

8.  I smother everything in a wash of watercolour.  Remember doing these kind of paintings at school?  Lots of fun!

9.  I pat away the excess paint.  Sometimes I do this step a few times to get the look I'm after.  Some of the watercolour soaks into the oil pastel, and even though the colours stay bright, they're also nicely grungy.

10.  I paint the background of the trunk and branches in acrylic.

11.  A second layer is added to create the "bark".  These concentric patterns are fiddly, but also strangely relaxing!

12.  Finished!  I now break that rule of no water based mediums over oil based ones, by adding the gold "lights" and the circles around them over the top of the oil pastel background.  It works fine in tiny areas, as I finish the piece off with several coats of spray matte picture varnish to protect it.  For works on canvas - heaps of coats are needed.

Tree and Stars  © Loretta Grayson  2011

Prints of this artwork and others in this style are available in my Etsy shop!