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Since the trunk of the old Sugar Maple is the center piece of this composition I painted it first, adjusting the shadows so that the trunk would stand out against the sky. Next, I painted the foreground using shadows that are darker than those in the trunk to create the illusion that the tree is more distant.  Once these colors were set I added a block of bright yellow as under-painting for the new leaves and then filled in the details.

I use several different methods to make bark.  In this case I began by painting all the crevices with a dark brown and then building up the spaces in between with heavy applications of lighter brown using the side of the knife.  It would have been easier to paint the whole trunk dark brown first because then I wouldn’t have had to squeeze the lighter color between the cracks, which is a bit tedious.  But, the natural cracks in the bark are what makes the old tree so interesting.  I sketched the cracks exactly as they were on the original tree and I wanted to follow my sketch precisely.

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