This Tree School post is a re-write of the one that was originally posted at Pastelsblog in January, 2009.
With a couple of exceptions, every landscape I have done has trees. But don't expect to see green trees in these pictures. I want to convince you to almost never use green as your departure point in painting trees.
The color of your trees will either establish or enhance your overall color composition. You want unity, and you want a proper color statement. Sometimes, green just isn't part of that structure.
Green will key the color composition for you. If you wish green as a major element in your image, then use it. If not, then do a color study of your composition first to determine what color you will be making your trees. The local color of trees is usually green, but if you think about it, there are other local colors of trees. Brown, orange, silver, gray and black are present. Trace or hints of red and blue are very evident to me in trees. Cast colors include violet and blue. When we view our trees in this manner, any color becomes part of the natural palette associated with trees.
Remember that color has much more value than associations with objects. Some assign emotional value to color, but I also think of it's plastic qualities.
Don't become a victim of the tyranny of green.
All images in pastel, by Casey Klahn.
1. Blue & Gray River 10" x 14.5"
2. Clear River 7.5" x 9"
3. Violet & Green Tree 5" x 4.5"