Old Growth Trees in Winter

Jan 21, 2023

Being surrounded by the winter landscape, I was drawn to the old growth trees. Looking at them without their leaves gives insight into their individual shape, color, and texture. Evidence of good times and bad as they continue to grow.

Do you see a steering wheel in this photo? Click to enlarge

This gnarly old tree reminded me of Andrew Wyeth’s paintings.

Andrew Wyeth (American, 1917-2009) loved painting trees in winter. Wyeth’s work could surely help me learn how to approach painting these beautiful, ancient trees. PBS has a film in its American Masters series dedicated to Andrew Wyeth.

"The Ax," Watercolor, Andrew Wyeth
“The Ax,” watercolor, Andrew Wyeth
“Feb 2, 1942,” watercolor, Andrew Wyeth
"Sycamore," 1982, watercolor, Andrew Wyeth
“Sycamore,” 1982, watercolor, Andrew Wyeth

Learning from this beloved American artist, it was clear he painted the integrity of the tree. All the strengths and weaknesses are there. Also, It is central to the image, which gives the impression of scale. Somehow, they are comforting to me. Strength and longevity does exist.

Here are a couple of my sketches of trees that caught my eye.

The Leaning Tree welcome visitor's to my nephew's home. Old Growth Trees in Winter
The Leaning Tree welcomes visitors to my family’s home.
Trees on the way to Stockbridge, Massachusetts, pencil and white gouche. Old Growth Trees in Winter
Trees on the way to Stockbridge, pencil and gouache
Black Bridge Road, Tree study, pencil and watercolor

Do you have a favorite Andrew Wyeth painting?

Andrew Wyeth, Photo Credit – Washington Post – See article here

“I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape. Something waits beneath it; the whole story doesn’t show.” Andrew Wyeth

“First Snow” Andrew Wyeth

Thank you for being here. I’ll be painting trees. See you next week.



  1. Robert McNinch on January 22, 2023 at 9:37 am

    Your drawings of the tree’s shows the spirit that’s in them . Wonderful !

    • Michel McNinch on January 22, 2023 at 11:16 am

      Thank you so much!

      • Patricia Riddle-Wilcox on January 24, 2023 at 6:15 pm

        Andrew Wyeth is my favorite rd Ute artist of modern times.
        We lived in PA near his beautiful farm in PA. We frequently visited the Brandywine Museum that had Andrews father, son, sister’s art on display.
        I love all Andrews work. His palette is beautiful, I love his subjects and compositions!

        • Michel McNinch on January 24, 2023 at 6:42 pm

          Oh YES! You and me both! I have been the Brandywine Museum once. Hope I make it back again.

  2. Missy Phillips on January 22, 2023 at 11:34 am

    I have an Andrew Wyeth print hanging in our family room that is a painting of a chair in a room with a window in the background and a jacket on the chair. It is meaningful to me because it was one of the first pictures that my parents had on their wall when they were young, married, and poor.

    • Michel McNinch on January 22, 2023 at 11:49 am

      Oh! Thank you for sharing that with us. Uncle John and Aunt Emma have always been role models for me in the appreciation of the visual arts. Every time I visited your home I was swept away by all the paintings. Such variety! Love knowing that they had a Wyeth in their home since the beginning. A love story for sure.

    • Tina on January 24, 2023 at 8:38 am

      That description makes me think of uncle John sitting in the upstairs room in the beach house, smoking his pipe and the wonderful smell that came from it! I was just telling somebody the other day how much I love my uncle John Cottingham and the pipes always remind me of him. Thank you Missy for sharing this!

  3. Jeannie Irvin on January 22, 2023 at 11:41 am

    LOVE your sketches Michel!!!!!! They are an inspiration!!! YOU are an inspiration!!!!!💗🖼🎨

  4. Michel McNinch on January 22, 2023 at 11:51 am

    Thank you, Jeannie! It is such fun taking inspiration from the land, master artists, and watching it influence my work – and that of my precious students. I am not sure if it shows, but I love each one of you dearly. : )

  5. Jimmy Lee on January 22, 2023 at 1:57 pm

    Nice sketches. Look forward to seeing your paintings from this trip. Loved your comments on old trees and Andrew Wyeth. We were so fortunate to have his work in Greenville for many years.

    • Michel McNinch on January 22, 2023 at 8:59 pm

      I was so inspired there. Love of family and a new landscape. Can’t wait to tell you all about it. Painting going good, but slow. New things….take longer.

  6. Lucy Bailey on January 22, 2023 at 6:17 pm

    What a coincidence: I listed to a podcast today on People I (Mostly) Admire with Suzanne Simard about trees. Absolutely fascinating. Thanks for the beautiful trees!

  7. Michel McNinch on January 22, 2023 at 9:00 pm

    I love it when things like that come together. Thanks for the heads up for the podcast. Love a good listen.

  8. Tina on January 24, 2023 at 8:40 am

    I love seeing all the trees, but I especially love seeing your sketches as you create them coming to life right before our eyes! Wonderful trees, Michelle!

    • Michel McNinch on January 27, 2023 at 11:35 am

      Thanks, Tina. Hope you are doing well.

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