Artist Diaries: How to create leaves with visual interest

"Lucie Stern Through the Looking Glass" painting sitting on my easel in my home art studio. On the left the photograph I am using to paint from. I took it while attending the Palo Alto Players' production of "Rabbit Hole".
"Lucie Stern Through the Looking Glass" painting sitting on my easel in my home art studio. On the left the photograph I am using to paint from. I took it while attending the Palo Alto Players' production of "Rabbit Hole".

This week I made more progress on the foreground of my “Lucie Stern Through the Looking Glass” painting by adding in the leaves of a large tree on the left. I really focused on identifying the variations in color and depth in the leaves.

Usually when people start painting the leaves of tress, they start with just green which provides a very flat, artificial looking tree. Instead, I’ve learned that you need to vary the shades of green with the base color and yellow ochre. I also add a little bit of bright red to my some of my color variations to add additional visual interest. There is always a balance of creating variation without getting so wild, the leaves steal all the attention from the rest of the painting.

You’ll also find that it takes a couple of layers to get the depth you want and it is important to wait between layers so the paint has some time to dry.

I am a little nervous about the next step in this painting where I will add additional trees and bushes in front of the Lucie Stern Theatre. I want to get this right as I really don’t want to have to paint the Lucie Stern building over again.

I put in the tree in the foreground whcih softens up the painting.

This week, Lee Hartman, the teacher, is still not back in class. However, word from some other students is that she will be back next week.

I took the liberty while she is gone to select my next painting which will be on a 22″x28″ canvas and feature a couple of people amongst other items in the painting. It will be considerably more challenging. I hope Lee is not going to kill me for choosing such a complex painting. However, I figure you’ll never know what you are capable of if you don’t push it.

Someone in class said that oil painting is just a series of corrections. In this case it is true. I am repainting the garbage can on the left because it was the wrong size and angle.
Close up of the current painting. My next step is to add the trees and bushes in front of the Lucie Stern Theatre.
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Loni Stark
Loni Stark is a self-professed foodie, and adventure travel seeker, and yet is also passionate about technology’s impact on business and creativity. She's the host of our Stark Insider video features. It’s been said her laugh can be heard from San Jose all the way up to the Golden Gate Bridge. She makes no claims to super powers, although sushi is definitely her Kryptonite. Loni's story...