TWISTED TREE 2014 – Original Watercolor

Image of Twisted Tree 2014, an original watercolor by Woody Hansen Twisted Tree 2014  – Original watercolor by Woody Hansen, 15″ x 22″
To learn more, ore view this painting framed, select the image.



I observe the potential of a very large piece of watercolor paper which serves to protect the table tops of the classroom area. This piece in particular has many marks that have resulted over weeks, even months of student painting. The marks are of a random variety, a form of scattered painting residue. Some marks are pure accident, unplanned, without forethought. This will be the basis, the creative foundation for what becomes, Twisted Tree 2014.

After carefully selecting a smaller area, the larger paper is trimmed to half sheet size (15 x 22). This will be the starting point of the painting.  Now what to do? Is there a plan, an idea, a sketch, a direction in mind? Will the approach to Twisted Tree 2014,  be abstract or non-objective? The answer is “no,”for the former, and “yes” for the latter. See below …

Watercolor Class

Though often creatively studied and given thought, this sheet of paper sits in a state of limbo for several weeks as other painting opportunities take PRECEDENT. Eventually, a plan of action  develops for ,Twisted Tree 2014.

At the end of each day in which we paint in class, participants dispose of their left over water  residue by dumping it into a larger container to be properly disposed of at a later time. Of course this water contains a multitude of colored pigments, that most often become a dark, muddy  residue. Over time the water (unfit for plants) evaporates. This results in the various pigments settling to the bottom of the container where they eventually return to powder form.

An idea forms. What if the muddy-colored powder, is combined with clear water, and then applied to the aforementioned piece of paper? Might this make the beginning of an interesting painting demonstration? With this process in mind, the biggest hurdle is overcome. Time to turn thought into action.


,The beginning process of Twisted Tree 2014, is that of creating interesting “marks on paper. Thought is given to the few initial strokes, their direction, and possible free-form results. Then, with the paper and board level, without hesitation the strokes are made, dripping wet paint onto dry paper.

The first strokes of Twisted Tree 2014,are made quickly, without hesitation, yet slow enough so  the marks will likely avoid a break, and have in a linear, or line quality about them. The painting board is then tilted at various angles to allow the paint to run, to find its own path. The process is that of suggestion, to facilitate, to encourage, but not to expect total control.


Next, the brush is held in a vertical manner, point down,and held at various positions while encouraging the paint to drip from the belly of the brush to its tip and onto the paper below. The size of the drips can be somewhat controlled by the distance between brush tip and paper. A few, quick, diagonal scratch-like marks are made  to open up the larger, round drip in the lower, upper right quadrant of the painting. See below …Watercolor Class
                                                                                                         Photo by Linda Sauer STEP 5 – THE MOTIF

To this point in the process the approach is thought of as being non-objective in nature. However, the basis of a possible landscape becomes apparent. Almost instantly, non-objectivity is jettisoned. A decision is made to further develop the painting toward a landscape motif, or what will become, Twisted Tree 2014.

With the addition of calligraphy, the large, slightly diagonal, vertical mark on the left side of the paining becomes a solid, mature tree trunk., while the mark on the right side becomes a spindly, airy, smaller, but determined, tree shape. Contrast. See below …

                                                                                                         Photo by Linda Sauer

The dominate color of Twisted Tree 2014, is warm yellow. This dominance, this exaggeration, is further enhanced by the application of yellow hued paint, in selected areas of the painting. The faint, gray, suggestion of a mountain shape is applied  to the background, along with addition of decorative, loose, calligraphic line work. Additional line work can be seen in the tree areas, and in the suggestion of an imaginary fence line along the horizon. See  below …

                                                                                                         Photo by Linda Sauer

A cooler, yellow sky is added to Twisted Tree 2014. Selected areas are intensified with the use of transparent, yellow, orange, red, and gray hues. Sky ;and mountain shapes make use of the powerful principle of gradation. The areas around the three,larger, dark, circular shapes are masked off. Then,  to open up those flat, looking circular areas, or shapes, opaque white is drizzled, light over dark.  Care is taken to make sure the white drizzles are loosely contained within the intended areas of the composition. See below …

Progression image of Twisted Tree 2014 by  Woody Hansen                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                         Photo by Linda Sauer

As is the case in several of the previous steps, the painting is set aside, allowed to dry, studied, and evaluated  over time. Areas are then lightened, darkened. Compositional adjustments are made with the use of value, color and calligraphy. See below…

Image of Twisted Tree 2014, an original watercolor by Woody Hansen


The creation of Twisted Tree 2014, was an extremely pleasant experience. The painting may appear haphazard in application. However within the original free-form framework, there is more control and thought given to the process than what might first be noticed by the untrained – or even  the trained – eye. Watercolor is a wonderfully creative medium, if given it’s freedom to share in the act of artistic creation.

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