Landscape, Nature, Painting, Watercolor | August 15, 2006 | By

Just a quick watercolor sketch of some eucalyptus – two of the 100 species growing in California – imported from Australia in the 1850s. Just as with palm trees, you can hardly look in any direction and not see eucalyptus trees. They are fast growers and were often used as windbreak protection for crops and livestock. Rich in volatile oils they also burn like torches in brush fires, which is why we don’t have any on our property and probably won’t plant any either. Eucalyptuses are aromatic and more than a little messy – they drop leaves, seeds, and peel bark. But their colors are lovely and the foliage comes in many shades of blue, green, gray and even a dusty red when the leaves are new.

The actual size of this study is 6.5″ x 8″ – mixed media – watercolor, brush pen and Winsor and Newton ink. I used mostly cobalt blue, payne’s gray, sap green and burnt sienna.


  1. pink, etc.
    August 15, 2006

    Super cool painting! The blurry to the sharp edges drags the eye right through the picture. Eucalyptus and Cyprus are my favorite trees.

  2. wendy
    August 15, 2006

    Yes, that’s a gum tree alright! Scribbly kind. Fancy that – Australian trees over there! The leaves smell lovely. I always pinch some from a tree when I wait for the bus, crush them in my hand and sniff away any kind of stuffy nose quickly.

  3. Karen
    August 15, 2006

    Brigette, thanks. Yes they are an interesting combo of soft and fluffy and very sleek hard parts. Makes them interesting!

    Wendy – there are actually two there, side by side – one of the dark green poofy ones and one of the sandy red ones. I wish I knew their real names. I wonder what their children are going to look like! Poofy with red heads, no doubt! Good tip on the herbal remedy, thanks!


  4. Anastasia
    August 15, 2006

    Lovely!!! a little bit of Australia nearby………I bet they smell nice too!

  5. Toni
    August 16, 2006

    We don’t have eucalyptus here is PA so never gave it a thought about the oils and that it would burn so fast. Interesting.

  6. Susan Borgas
    August 16, 2006

    Karen you have captured the colours with perfection…….. My favourite tree!

  7. LIN
    August 16, 2006

    BEAUTIFUL, Karen!! I love the grey-blue of the eucalyptus !!!

  8. TeriC
    August 16, 2006

    I have also never seen one of these trees. So lovely. I have a question Karen, did you paint the sky first and the trees over it or did you do it separately?

  9. Karen
    August 16, 2006

    Thanks Anastasia, Toni, Susan, Lin and Teri.

    Teri, to answer your question, in this case I painted the trees first, conserving some of the whites for “sky holes.” Then I painted the sky overlapping some of the foliage and I filled in some of the sky holes. I added the ink calligraphy last, because the brush pen is water soluble.

  10. Tami
    August 16, 2006

    Lovely tree image. I have been looking at the trees moving in the wind of late and have been concidering painting some. I love yours! The Eucs, especially as the evening sun touches them, are stunning.
    Messy, yes, a hazard, yes but here they are so common that they almost seem native. Funny how many people I talk to, say that they associate the smell of Ecualyptus with California!

  11. clare
    August 16, 2006

    Hello from the land of the eucalypts, yes I live right in the middle of the Aussie bush. Surrounded by these glorious trees. You can imagine my
    nervousness when the dry, prickling summer heat and gusty north winds combine creating hazardous fire conditions. Some evil persons actualy take a sick
    delight in deliberately sparking fires during these ‘Total Fire Ban’ days. It’s happened in our neighbourhood! On these days I long to live in the city, but then
    that has it’s dangers too.
    Your eucalypts are wonderful, thanks for sharing Karen.

  12. clare
    August 16, 2006

    PS: I have been suffering a nasty flu and chest infection and just wanted to add that I am burning eucalyptus oils in my oil burner right now! It is such a
    comforting, healing scent, helps one to breathe easier.
    My favourite eucalypts are Lemon Scented gums, and River Red Gums. Not sure of their botanical names.

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