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Examine the bark of the type of tree you are trying to replicate. In this case, I wanted to get the rough texture of an oak tree. I got several foam rollers of various sizes. The dense rollers that look like marshmallow work best. I created the textures by plucking little bits of the foam from the roller by pinching between my fingers. I then used a craft knife to cut irregular diamond type shapes from the roller, leaving raised areas as shown, which make the textured print. It was also handy to have one roller that was cut with the diamond shapes on only half of the width. That way I could just flip it over to put both patterns in at once.
I took photographs of several oak trees and projected the branches onto the wall, using an overhead projector. This saved time in drawing the tree, and enhanced the natural effect. Don't feel compelled to use every branch and twig. Select the ones you feel are important to your composition. If you don't have access to an overhead projector, or the room is too small for it's use, use photographs of trees for reference. Draw just the most basic sketchy line of your tree with a watercolor pencil that is close to the colors you will use in the tree. This will blend in or be easily wiped off with a damp cloth. Some colors will leave a slight stain so test in an inconspicuous place before you begin.
I mixed three colors (slate, taupe and mocha) of McKlosky pre-mixed glazes to get the warm gray tone for the main texture painting. McKlosky glazes are readily available at paint and home improvement stores. This was applied lightly to the roller with a chip brush, then rolled onto the surface. Be sure to turn and twist a bit, as trees in nature are not straight. Go over this by rolling again a time or two. As you do so, your paint will apply fainter to depict more layers of texture. While the glaze is still wet, swipe lightly with a chip brush to blur the edges of the print slightly. If you have an area that is too dark, pat with cheesecloth to remove some glaze. Continue on and overlap areas so that it is not obvious where you have stopped and started a section. As you work to the smaller branches, you may squeeze part of the roller by taping it so that you will get a narrower rolled print. For smaller segments, use a make up sponge that has been plucked in a similar way to the roller. The smallest twigs are painted with a paintbrush using the same glaze. Allow to dry.
Next, the leaves were stenciled in clusters using our 901 Sheets of Leaves turned in different ways to emanate from the smaller branches. This goes quickly, as they are one overlay each. Rather than stenciling the entire sheet, select different clusters, editing out sections as you see fit. Tape over any that you don't want in your print if they are close to the leaves you do want. Select another section and allow some of the leaves to overlap each other, giving the foliage a natural looking layered appearance. Be sure that there is some contrast between overlapping leaves so that they look distinctly different from one another. Keep turning the sheet and using different sections until the foliage is as full as you wish. Use the smaller sheet leaves for the ends of the branches and for background leaves. I added a glazing medium such as Americana's Brush and Blend Extender to the paint to get a sheer effect, giving it continuity with my glazed trunks. Stencil the brighter leaves with gold, medium green, red, and dark green. The softer, background leaves were stenciled very lightly with the medium green, gold and sometimes a hint of the red. Once the cluster was done, A little medium green glaze was ragged over the area to indicate twigs and shadows from a distance, keeping the overall look very loose. Soften with cheesecloth if need be.
When the leaves are completed, go back to the trunks and branches. The rolled application of glaze must be dry. This layer is applied around the leaves. I brushed on a very thin glaze of dioxizine purple, then a soft, muddy green, to indicated the shadowed side of the trunk and a light mossy green to define the edge of the trunk on the lighter side. This is spread and softened with chip brush and cheesecloth so it doesn't overpower the texture and the leaves. A small amount of yellow-gold was also added to the "lightest" areas, to indicate warmth of direct light.
This was a custom job where the paints were mixed according to the room palette. Americana color equivalents are: Gold-Antique Gold #146, Medium Green: Hauser Med. Green#132, Red: Napa Red # 165, Dark Green: Hauser Dark Green #133, Soft Muddy Green: Reindeer Moss Green #187, Dioxazine Purple: Dioxazine Purple #101