Ratindra Das and the Nature of Trees

January 29, 2019 2 min read 1 Comment

So much of art is learning to see. Below Ratindra Das talks about how he sees trees in the world around him. To watch Ratindra's thinking (and painting) first hand, check out his wonderfulvideo workshop, Painting a Personal Reality in Watercolor. Thank you Ratindra!

 

What is a tree?


Trees sustain life. Trees stand for endurance and patience.


“A tree is an individual. It springs from a planted seed. It develops. It comes out of the earth. It grows as a trunk spreading into branches that bare leaves, flowers, and fruit," Milford Zornes. 

In nature, trees don’t grow like lollipops. Trees have structure, form, and shape. In winter or late fall, you see the structure, in summer and fall tree, reveals the beauty of foliage. Structure and foliage have irregular shapes. I am not writing about painting trees rather than botanical illustration.

 

How to Paint Trees

 

Notice how deciduous trees and coniferous trees have different shapes.

 

 

Summer and fall trees show their color and shape in foliage.

 

Stylization

Many of your favorite artists approach trees in very different ways. 

Millard Sheets:

 

 

Charles Burchfield:

 

 

Milford Zornes:

How you see trees change based on where you're viewing them from.

A group of trees in distance. You can’t see individual trees. There is a mass of foliage in beautiful shape.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parts of a Tree

Really look at trees. How they move may surprise you.

Tree branches grow outward and upward. They reach for light and sun-even the conifers. Very often I see students paint conifers like Christmas trees as taught in kindergarden-all branches going down.

 

Look at the periphery. They are going in an upward direction.

 

 

Trunks are beautiful by themselves. They show massiveness and strength. They are not just sticks in the ground.

 

 

Trees do not grow at even distances unless they are planted that way. Hold a pencil vertically to see how much a tree leans. That’s the rule of nature-”irregularity.” The same rule applies to everything that is natural- human beings, rocks, flowers, snowflakes-you name it!

 

 

Trees give a wonderful chance to play with abstraction. You don't have to paint every detail. Below are tree shapes reduced to just blocks of colors.

 

 

Birch trunks show a quiet, poetic beauty in winter which is often overlooked in summer. 

 

 

Take a look at all the variety that came with trees:

Palms:

 

 

 

Banyan Tree:

The banyan tree is one of nature’s wonder in the plant kingdom. The original trunk of this 250-year-old tree is long gone through decay and insects. The tree drops aerial roots from the branches until they reach the ground and then the roots secure themselves to earth and slowly spreads below ground. Eventually, these support the branches and foliage and are also called prop roots. The roots of this tree are spread out to 150 acres.

 

 

Trees offer many wonderful opportunities for the artist. Enjoy!

Ratindra Das is an award-winning, AWS Dolphin Fellow. You can find more from Ratindra at his website and on Facebook


1 Response

Penny Fedorchak
Penny Fedorchak

February 04, 2019

Wonderful article and excellent reference.thank you, Ratindra

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