I went to the Jardin Botanique in Montreal with the intention of painting flowers, but on my way through the Leslie Hancock Garden, I noticed this Crataegus crus-galli — a cockspur hawthorn. With its spreading horizontal branches, it was quite dramatic set against the azalea beds some distance away.

I always spend a little time thinking the painting process through before I start, instead of diving right in. I try to figure out what washes will go on first, how dark will they be and what colour harmonies I will choose. The big question with a central tree like this is whether to paint around it, or to paint the sky and background right through it and then paint the tree on top of those washes. The solution was quite clear in this case. Because the tree is so dark, I first painted sky, distant foliage and then foreground, and when that was bone dry I painted the tree. A classic light to dark and far to near painting order. To note: it was worth the bites to have a view of this beautiful specimen, but if you go to this area of the gardens, remember to pack your bug spray.


21 Comments on “Hawthorn”

  1. Jean Seguin says:

    Wow! The effect is great. We clearly see both background and foreground! That’s what caught my interest before reading your description of the process! Nice! Jean


    • Thanks so much Jean. I wish the Jardins Botanique were not so far away. I could paint there every day if I didn’t have to drive to the other end of the island. So much to see…


  2. Chris Rusk says:

    Hi Shari
    You honoured your subject, so well said! As I look at your work, I feel as though I am there, but without the bugs.


  3. Elaine says:

    It’s a gem, thanks for your always generous sharing, very inspiring


  4. Soni says:

    This is beautifully done as usual but special thank you for your thinking process. If you have time, can you relate your colors used ? And what’s roughly “bone dry drying time” from early background washes to front ? Thank you. Soni


    • Hi Soni. Thanks so much for writing.
      I wanted this to have a sort of hazy background so I used a lot of cerulean blue in the background greens. The tree is done with my darkest mixes: Alizarin Crimson, Ultramarine, Burnt Sienna and Indanthrene Blue. As for the drying time, it is quite fast when you are working outside on a hot day. When the paper no longer feels cool to the touch, you can paint on it again. Yesterday that time was about 5 minutes.


  5. Beautiful! I love the branches reaching out in front of the rest of the scene.


  6. This is fabulous!! Love the depth you created, Shari. 😍And thanks as always for your process insight. Now if I could just wait for something to dry…hehe


    • Patience, patience Charlie. Actually the drying time was short yesterday because it was quite warm out. But if you are working in studio like you seem to do, then a blow dryer always helps.

      Liked by 1 person

      • hehe… patience has never my strong suit. 😊Been looking at hair dryers though, but wanting the smallest I can find. And thanks for calling my kitchen counter a “studio” hehe… makes it sound so much cooler that way!


  7. Jane Hannah says:

    A beautiful testament to a beautiful space — you aced it Shari — it is breathtaking -)))


  8. s says:

    This is a strikingly beautiful painting. Your description of your thinking and working process is much appreciated. If the tree had been light, would you have had a different painting plan?
    thank you.


  9. johnahancock says:

    A handsome piece!


  10. kasperart says:

    Like the atmosphere at this one 🙂


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