I love trees. I love painting and drawing trees. But I have to confess a personality quirk that makes me want to paint every single detail on the tree. About halfway through, I get annoyed and understandably discouraged.
One of the challenges in painting trees is painting "sky holes," those bits of light you can see peeking through the leaves. You wouldn't think these would be hard to paint. But I've noticed that my biggest challenge with sky holes is not to paint too many, as that tends to look unrealistic. So as part of my quest to *stop* painting every little detail, I looked for some tips on painting sky holes:
- Don't make them too regular in shape or size, or evenly spaced. They should be random but realistic to the type of tree you are painting.
- Use a slightly darker sky color for the sky holes. The light will be filtered by the leaves. Also, the eye is drawn to lighter color, and you don't want the eye to focus on your sky holes. Generally, the smaller the sky hole, the darker it should be.
- Don't have too many hard edges. Hard edges will make the tree look like it's cut and pasted on top of the sky, instead of being part of the landscape.
Bob Rohm, "Spring Blue"
Dan Young, "At Home"
Kevin Courter, "Day's End"
And in this example from Kevin Courter, you can see that tree holes don't apply solely to the sky:
As Richard McKinley says,
Having dark, upright trees against a light sky produces one of the most beautiful and difficult to handle situations in the landscape: sky holes. The amount of visible sky holes depends on the density of the foliage, but as an artist friend often said, “You have to give the birds a place to fly in and out.”Be sure to give the birds room to fly.