Foreshortening Tree Limbs Notes
Foreshortening of trees is very important if you wish to portray them realistically. The winter in Florida is the best time to practice foreshortening drawings of limbs. Today I went to town and on the way I did a lot of observation of bare trees and their structures. The biggest problem many of my students have mentioned is their difficulty of foreshortening limbs on trees or even canopies. There is a tendency for painters to think of trees as two dimensional, and flat.
I think the easiest thing to do is to spend time with pencil and paper out in the yard. That is how I study them after doing a fair amount of observation. I have used a marker to outline the shapes I made originally, just so you can see clearly. I usually just use pencil. Depending on my position in looking at trees, either straight on, below the limbs or above them, the foreshortened limbs will often be darker on the bottom of the limb. Of course, other limbs will be throwing cast shadows around on other limbs as well.
The space between two ends of an image is shortened any time the image’s length is other than parallel to my eyes. So if my limb is offset from parallel, I will be unable to see parts of it. The problem with foreshortening comes when we have a preconceived notion of what things look like, rather than relying on real observation. We know the limb is long though we can only see the front part of it, depending on our perspective. So how much the limb is foreshortened depends upon the position of it’s connection to the trunk and the tip to our eyes. So if you are looking at a horse’s body at a three quarter angle, turned away from you the rump is going to be bigger than the front of the horse, due to linear perspective. It works that way with limbs too.
I often notice palm tree paintings that show no foreshortening of the fronds, making the fronds look like they all come from a central pinwheel, having no 3 dimensional quality to the fronds, as they should be foreshortened closest to the viewer.
This frequently happens in a variety of tree paintings, making trunks and canopies look like icons or symbols of trees, not 3 D.
Anyhoo, Get out there with your sketch pad and pencil. Do little drawings like I do, and make notes. As you drive along in the car think about how trees appear from the top down.Stand directly under them and look up. All of this observation is not only fun, but useful as well.
More musings for artists and collectors to come….
Save the date for my Cake Party on May 13th, 11AM – 4PM. We will have chocolate with chocolate icing, Carrot coconut cake, and lemon poppy seed cake with lemon curd filling.
I have a new plan to extend Henry’s pen to the front porch so I can open the door and let him in and out. I must now take him out with his leash to get to the pen. He has a tendency to use that as a weapon. When he feels he is not getting enough attention, he stands and whines at the door, even if he has just been out. I feel like a doorman!
Corned Beef Pate’
1 can corned beef
1 package onion soup mix
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup mayo
1 T pickle relish
1 T brown mustard
dash of pepper and salt
Mix together and serve with rye crackers and dill chips.