If you like, take inspiration for your art from the trees in this park. To do so, you don’t need to be able to render them as they are. Take one aspect of what you see—a line, a color, or a shape—play with it, and expand on it. Or paint your feeling about the trees.

These particular trees have also provided us with a variety of tools and materials on the ground. If you like, take a moment to find something that the trees have discarded (a stick, a leaf, a piece of bark) and find a way to use it with your other materials.

This approach to painting “about” a subject, rather than painting a “picture of it,” values expression over realistic representation and may benefit children from the time they are making their first marks (and are not developmentally ready for representational art) through adulthood (when their courage in expression may suffer as they are exposed to the idea that there is a narrow range of “right” ways to render a subject).

As children grow up and possibly pursue further skills in art, we can hope they will retain the belief that their unique expression is integral to their art making. As adults exploring art for stress relief or leisure, we might try starting from expression.

further reading: Portraits of Trees, a Favorite Subject of Artists (National Gallery Of Art)