Painting Trees
Nikolay Dubovik, “The March,” oil (Plein Air Salon, April/May 2018, Best Plein Air)

If you’re a plein air painter who lives in a lush area that’s plentiful with trees, you probably have few compositions that are void of them. So how do you paint trees? The sky’s the limit, of course, so start by reviewing these 11 landscape paintings that incorporate trees as an element.

Each of the landscape paintings here has won an award in the Plein Air Salon. If you’re ready to enter your best work and potentially win up to $15,000, visit to learn more. Don’t delay — the deadline for the next salon is September 30.

Painting Trees
Melanie Thompson, “Wallowa Valley Twilight,” 2016, oil on panel, 12 x 16 in. (6th Annual Plein Air Salon, Honorable Mention)
Painting Trees
Brent Cotton, “The Awakening Dawn,” oil, 32 x 40 in. (5th Annual Plein Air Salon, Honorable Mention)
Painting Trees
Mark Boedges, “A Peaceful Moment,” oil, 14 x 20 in. (4th Annual Plein Air Salon, Second Place)
Painting Trees
James McVicker, “North Coast Morning Light,” oil, 36 x 60 in. (3rd Annual Plein Air Salon, Second Place)

[Related > Learn how to paint trees with these Lilidahl Art Video Workshops]

Painting Trees
Sergei Oussik, “Spring is coming,” soft pastel, 22 x 26 in. (Plein Air Salon, February/March 2018, Best Pastel)
Painting Trees
Christopher Leeper, “Shimmer and Mist,” oil, 18 x 24 in. (Plein Air Salon, December 2017/January 2018, Best Oil)
Painting Trees
George Shipperley, “Forest Encounter II,” oil pastel, 28 x 28 in. (Plein Air Salon, June/July 2017, Best Landscape)
Painting Trees
John McCartin, “An Australian Icon,” charcoal, 18 x 14 in. (Plein Air Salon, June/July 2017, Best Sketchbook)
Painting Trees
Bill Inman, “Pot of Gold,” oil, 30 x 40 in. (Plein Air Salon, April/May 2017, Best Figure in the Landscape)
Painting Trees
Sabrina Stiles, “Spring Fever,” soft pastel, 18 x 24 in. (Plein Air Salon, April/May 2017, Best Landscape)

What’s your favorite type of tree to paint? Comment below and tell us what brushes and colors you use to paint trees in a landscape!

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  1. My favorite type of tree to paint is all trees! They are all unique and have their own color combinations. They are really like painting people with all their unique characteristics and colors. They create a wonderful vertical element to the horizontal landscape and help to break up the foreground from background in large panoramic pictures.

  2. I enjoy painting ant variety. The shadows trees cast intrigue me, as they add an element of high contrast which can have subtle touches of vibrant color within them. The surrounding light values then will have more punch. Varying the edges where light meets shadow edges provides another enlivening opportunity.

  3. All beautiful and some very refined examples reminding me of classical landscapes … and J. McCartin wow what a great drawing!
    Nikolay Dubovik’s painting is my fav overall, but I also really appreciate the drama of the trees of Boedges and Oussik. Boedges reminds me a little of John Carlson’s trees.

    Cherrie thanks for posting these great examples of paintings with trees… a fine collection of approaches and a
    Valuable study reference!

  4. I am astounded there was not a single water color included. Had been thinking of of a Pleain Air subscription, and now wondering if watercolor even considered as an art form by Plein Air. Truly disappointed by this article.

  5. When I was in school, I was afraid to paint trees…so complicated and all those leaves!! Now they are one of my favorite subjects…and I don’t worry about all those leaves! I have no particular type of tree that I prefer but I do like trees that have trunks/limbs with character, that say something to me, so not always the ‘prettiest’ tree around.
    I also prefer to mix my own greens, all you need is blues and yellows and you can create a million greens. But I am learning to have one or two greens on my palette: veridian and terre verte. Plus, I am known to add another color or two when the painting tells me to.

  6. I also am wondering about why no watercolor . That is my favorite medium and I have been looking for someone in Houston to work with on plein aire, but it is so hot most of the year no one does it. Took from an oil painter and did acrylic.


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