Blue Trees in the Middle Distance 7 - 3/8ths" x 5.75" Pastel Casey Klahn
Consider the words of this blog title, "abstract organic shapes." For a sound and enjoyable study of shape, see Diane Mize's post, And Then There is Shape. An organic shape is one with a random pattern or irregular edges - just the opposite of geometric shapes. Abstract means non-specific or simplified. A non-tree tree, if you will. More of a shape than a technical study of leaves, foliage, branches and trunks.
Think twice before you include trunks, branches or leaves
If you want foliage, then make your tree as formless as possible.Irregular, and abstract. Think twice before you include trunks, branches or leaves. A better direction to go instead is to ask yourself how this shape will effect your overall composition. Back all of the way out of the picture plane, and make a value and shape sketch. How big will the tree or trees be? Will they form a unified mass? What will the relationship of these trees be to the other elements in my painting?
Consider the image posted today, Blue Trees in the Middle Distance.
Since we are building a landscape here, albeit an abstracted one, we have chosen to model the form of our trees. Keep it simple, with roughly three values only. As with strict realism, we have opted to not go very broad with our value range. An almost black violet, a dark middle ultramarine and a middle violet do everything we need them to do to represent two trees on a slope. We keep the diagonal strokes all parallel, which heightens the gestural effect of our marks.
An unrelenting melancholy
Anchor the trees to the ground with well placed shadows, and a dark line where we interface with the ground. Higher key colors in front of and behind our trees help with modeling. Atmospheric effects of the ridge, sky and clouds push them back, and limiting the palette help with unity. Again, we keep our gestural effect with our marks - they don't conflict.
An almost unrelenting melancholy pours down the picture plane, brought about by the blue and the clouds. A critique was written about this painting, here.