Tutorial “Old Olive Tree Path” by John O’Keefe Jr.

Old Olive Tree Path by John O'Keefe Jr.

This was my 11th painting. This painting was a direct study of anĀ old Victorian engraving. It had been several weeks since I last painted, and I wanted a miniature warm-up painting. Trees have been a little difficult for me until now, so I decided this study would be about trees. Please enjoy my tutorial “Old Olive Tree Path” by John O’Keefe Jr.

Composition and Materials – “Old Olive Tree Path”

Old Olive Tree Path, Victorian engraving

When I came across the Victorian engraving below, I knew it was the scene I wanted to paint. I researched the Internet for color photographs of olive trees for a good color reference. The clouds I used are from a photograph that Jennifer had taken one afternoon in our neighborhood. The painting is relatively small at 8 x 10 inches.

  • Support: Pre-Stretched & Mounted Medium Textured Cotton Canvas (Acrylic Primed)
  • Size: 8 x 10 inch
  • Medium: Winsor & Newton Artist Oils Professional Grade Oil Paints
    (Ivory Black, Titanium White, French Ultramarine Blue, Sap Green, Raw Sienna, and Burnt Sienna)
  • Finish: Winsor & Newton Dammar varnish.

Step-By-Step Tutorial – “Old Olive Tree Path”

Day 1

Old Olive Tree Path - Day 1

I always begin a landscape painting with the sky. I knew a large group of trees would be on the right side of this scene, so as you can notice, I did not paint any clouds in that area; only the blue sky is visible on the right. After the sky and clouds looked complete, I blocked in the foreground the large body of water and the remote peninsula.

Day 2

Old Olive Tree Path - Day 2

Once satisfied with the background elements of the painting, I started adding the trees and shadows.

Day 3

Old Olive Tree Path - Day 3

Now I’m focused on painting the trees. I was attempting to follow the engraving as closely as possible. The Victorian engraving was perfect for the Hudson River School style of painting that I’m trying to develop.

Day 4

Old Olive Tree Path - Day 4

The distant tree on the right was painted darker so there would be a noticeable contrast between it and the closest tree. I think the effect was working nicely at this point.

Day 5 (Digital Edits)

Old Olive Tree Path - Day 5 digital edits

Using my computer, I created this digital update. Seeing minor changes on the computer is faster and less risky than updating the actual painting. The distant shoreline is more defined, the horizontal plane of the coastline now carries out into the ocean, and the forward right tree trunk now has more highlights so that it pops. More sunlight also passes through the tree leaves and branches, making a beautiful array of shadows on the ground.

Day 6

Old Olive Tree Path - Day 6

Day 6 was about implementing the digital edits from the previous day.

Finished Painting – “Old Olive Tree Path”

Old Olive Tree Path by John O'Keefe Jr., Framed
Old Olive Tree Path by John O'Keefe Jr., Displayed

I hope you enjoyed my tutorial “Old Olive Tree Path” by John O’Keefe Jr.


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