Watercolor: Trees and Bark

Tree Bark Watercolors, Debiriley.com

I enjoy Nature. I love becoming absorbed with the small snippets and microcosms that segments can offer our eye and our imagination.

It stirs. It Inspires!

Tree Bark Watercolors, Debiriley.com
Tree Bark, Watercolor Lunar Black


Combining Loves, Watercolor and Trees

Its no secret that I  adore trees.

A Tree Hugger, at times.  You look through my posts, it becomes evident. The post Tantalising Tree Bark is one example!


Smooth gleaming branches that curve gracefully.

Roughened sandpaper,  magenta red cedar with its delicious scent.

Bright lemon lime willow foliage languidly trailing leaves into the brook below.


  • Yes.  I get up close and personal with my subjects!!
  • Yes,  I  ‘befriend’   my trees in order to portray them as I sense them to be.
  • As they  portray themselves to me.


tree bark texture, debiriley.com
my Subject:  Lunar Black Bark


Can I paint Madonna, Obama, Elvis?

Or  The Major Oak of Sherwood Forest?  The stunning trees of Tibet and Mongolia? Niagara Falls?




But, it would be without authenticity.

I do not KNOW them.

How can I impart feeling and character, their spark of Life,   if I don’t know them?



Tingle Forest, Valley of the Giants, debiriley.com
Tingle Forest


But I can paint with  passion,  feeling and depth  Grandma Tingle of The Ancient Empire;

the mist shrouded rainforest of the Olympic Rainforest;

the welcoming branches of the Angophera grove;

autumn colors along the banks of the Colo River in NSW.

Those subjects, yes,   I can pour feeling and emotion into them.




watercolour trees painting debiriley.com
Watercolour Trees painting debiriley.com



Maybe, I can no longer go for those walks….. so, then what would I do?!

I would not let that impediment stop me from painting subjects I know and love.

My House is full of items I love and know!


quail egg photograph, still life photography leaves, debiriley.com
Quail Eggs, Tin Foil,  Garden Leaves


reflections and patterns, photo, debiriley.com
Reflecting Quail Egg Shells



What I have touched…. I can express.


I’ve touched them.

They have touched me.


I’ve Breathed their air.  I’ve Listened.

And walked the same earth that they have.

I know them.


But, it did take my time.

And my energy to do so.


I Invested in them.

And, they in turn –

invested in me.



watercolor tree bark, simple tree painting, debi riley
Nuances of Grey, Tree Painting, debiriley.com (c)


I really,  Know That Tree!

She was a frequent resting stop point, in my walks in the Sydney St. Ives bushwalks.




Subjects Touch You;  You can Touch Them 

My heart has been touched and its as if their song still sings within.

This is just how I am.

And its How I need to create my art.

My brother, he creates  strictly from photographs.

He uses a  very hard lead pencil and his art images will take up to 9 months to complete. That is his style. He loves this way, and would be frustrated trying to use what works for me.

We all are different.   Thank goodness.

We need to create art differently.




Methods I Use For Trees and Bark



When I’m after Texture,  I normally choose  a Rough surface paper to help hold and create more textural effects.

Not always, just usually…. Unless I use Lunar Black paint.  Then I’m happier with a Cold Press surface to create effects.


And,  I am always happier with the better result coming from 100% cotton paper rather than cellulose, student paper.

I become so frustrated with that cheaper stuff I could gnash my teeth. Seriously.  As I know, the sheer delight and sensitivity of what the 100% cotton provides.

Yes.  I’m with you. I don’t like, I do not enjoy forking out tons of money on ‘expensive’ paper! But, I’ve learned that the resulting irritation, poor result, frustration from cheaper papers, just is not worth it – for me.  I will pay the extra $3 a sheet, with a Smile on my face.





The selection normally is based on Granulating paints, when I’m focusing on Tree Textures and bark.

Paints that will help to create textural effects on the paper surface.

Lunar Black creates fabulous patterns and textures, so I love using it. Granulating paints: cerulean, viridian, ultramarine, cobalt violet, are a few.

Lunar Black by Daniel Smith is a treat to use. Mix generously with water for best granulating textural effects.  Its wonderful mixed with many Stainers to create new beautiful colors. This ‘black’ isn’t flat. It is nearly transparent in its palest wash and is soft and lively.


Have a look at  Your Watercolor Basic tips    for posts on materials, papers and types of paints.    It will also cover watercolor techniques.  Wet and Dry.




application techniques wet or dry

Granulating paints must have lots of water with them in order to granulate and allow their particles to sink to the bottom, of the paper. So I either will dampen the paper first or use quite a lot of water with the paint.

Dry Brush.   Using a Dry Brush technique over the top of a dry area,  allow me to add more depth, dimension, texture and tone.  I will use this approach towards the end of a painting if it is called for.

watercolour textures chart debiriley.com
Watercolor Texture: Foreground – more, Background – Least …debiriley.com

Background was begun on wet/damp paper.

Middle and Foreground were worked, as the paper dried.

This created the textures and details that belong appropriately to each area of the painting.


Backgrounds, middlegrounds and foregrounds can be handled quite effectively by controlling carefully, the amount of dampness you allow on the paper and your brush.

Background is more Damp which will create much softer, blurrier edges. Perfect for creating ‘distance.’

Middleground is only slightly Damp, helping to create edges that are medium soft,  but with more control.

Foreground can be quite dry.  This will help you create sharp, crisp edges perfect for creating the illusion of depth in the front.



tree bark dry brush watercolours debiriley.com
Watercolour Tree Bark Dry Brush debiriley.com



I always need to remind myself that without 3 critical Tonal Values: Light, Mid, Dark  my painting or drawing can not be successful.

It will be flat, without depth, form, or life.

It really is the single most necessary ingredient of all.

You can look at my featured  Bark painting at the Top, and see there is a clear pattern of Light, Mid and Darker tones within the image. Thus, even as an Abstract – it works.



detail edges textures

If I’m lucky,  and things have panned out well,  most of these are pretty much done. I won’t need to ‘man handle’  the artwork and laboriously  Fiddle.

I will only need a few final touches.  No need to go overboard with a lot of ‘frou frou’  and frills.

Less is more.

However,  it certainly a good idea to have some textures and details highlighted near the area of the Focal Point.

The Focal Point – The place I want the viewer’s  eye to linger on.   A dry brush, a few strokes (3) and that’s really all I need to do.




Materials in The  featured Lunar black Tree Bark :

3  Items –   Less,  Is More

  1.   Lunar Black                      Daniel Smith watercolors

2.   Quinacridone Sienna    Daniel Smith watercolors

3.   Arches cold press paper 300 gsm





Suggested Posts to Read:

Stunning Combinations,  Lunar Black 

My Tree,  Lunar Black

Watercolor Papers 

Watercolor Trees    

Watercolor,  red maple 

Watercolor the detours 




Published by debiriley

The act of creation, in any media is a fascinating and magical process. I simply love to create. Expressing in color, line, tone, texture - as if, they were words upon a page. Creating a uniquely me, interpretation. Enjoy More of my "one-of-a-kind" expressive art at society6.com/debiriley and, redbubble.com/people/debijriley/shop

46 thoughts on “Watercolor: Trees and Bark

      1. those people may not have looked within, haven’t searched and Found their passion yet.
        Or, else…. they have and it has been forced from them by physical handicap or Otherwise.
        I strive in class to find ways to encourage and inspire, to keep them searching for the Something that lights them up.
        grandchildren, get ‘bored’…. they do not know how to enjoy their own company.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Your passion for art burns the paper and leaves a wonderful image behind! You really soak up and pour out everything with such zest that is most inspiring, how can we not get exited reading and seeing your work. Never ever change, you’re a shining soul which warms us all! Wonderful works, wonderful post, wonderful Debi!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Miss Eva 🙂 Diva of the wicked wild shoes … your comment had inspired my gumnut post with the ‘star’ within. Thank you once again. For such a great comment and feedback.
      I am super Glad, that you are enthused with the images and posts Eva! yay! cheers! Debi

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for sharing your variety of beautiful art pieces. I love the tree bark. Also, I so enjoyed your thoughts about your art life. I’m inspired by your love of creating beautiful art, thank you Debi.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nico, that is wonderfully lovely to hear, and so thoughtful of you! Thank You!!
      I am glad that you enjoyed these. Great!! wishing you a peace filled, cheer filled week. Debi

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It is really moving how you explain your love for trees and the way you create or cannot create. Love your paintings with these wonderful landscapes like a dream. I love trees, too, but I’m working more like your brother. As you say, everybody is different and that’s why we have such a wonderful variety of arts. Cheers Mitza

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you so much Mitza! my way, would drive him Mad, and vice versa… We need Variety in Art. my brain… just thinks and processes differently. lol. as my family will tell you!
      how is the Spring weather??

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Today was lovely, 13 degrees C, sunny, dark blue sky, and I saw the first two butterflies, one peacock butterfly and one brimstone butterfly. It can only get better now. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I don’t always carry a camera with me and chasing butterflies is something for people who are a bit younger than I am, hehe


  4. “What I have touched…. I can express.

    I’ve touched them. They have touched me. I’ve Breathed their air. I’ve Listened. And walked the same earth that they have. I know them.

    But, it did take my time. And my energy to do so. I Invested in them.”

    What a wonderful quote and that by you, Debi !!!! I understand that deeply!
    Thanks for sharing ! A spontneous “Love” for your paintings, too!
    Cheers and a good day to you,

    Petra, another treelover

    Liked by 1 person

    1. VERY Good to know, I’m not the only tree talker out there. hehehe
      Thank You.ever so much!! For your thoughts on this post.
      It is a positive reinforcement – for myself but also for others who see the comments too.
      a Painting is more like a ‘courtship process’;
      not, a Speed Date. I guess thats what I was trying to convey!! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. hi Nia, thank you! I’ve been out most of the week, so am playing catch up now. the post earlier, there was only the painting. no photos. I only suggested to Google photos is all 🙂 sorry……… hugs, Debi

      Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you Laura!! trees are funny; some are NOT ‘friendly… at least I don’t like them. Not fond of fir trees! but I love pine. guess I like the curvier ones. hahaha

      Liked by 1 person

      1. it is spendy, I go thru tons, so I have to always use both sides. Plus, rinse off the ‘yukky’ ones and have Re -Do’s
        Ever thought of using acrylics thinned down… on canvas? then, you can reuse the big canvas Multiple times?


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