Monday, November 26, 2018

Lilacs Again....

More Layers....

Still not being satisfied with my Lilac stems, Dear Readers, I snagged a section of the shedding bark from one of the RL ancient shrubs at work and brought it home just before Thanksgiving. I had some time off over the Holiday and wanted to experiment with an idea that had been teasing me for a long time. Above you can see the bark piece, in daylight, on my kitchen table. I have always thought that the oldest parts of the stems appeared lighter in color than the younger parts. I wanted to compare my shrubs with the real thing! I think I see a lighter tan-gray color than I was getting on my last paint layers. But more than that, I see the flaking texture of the bark itself, and so far I had not achieved this with the texture on my Lilac Stems. But I had an idea that was just begging to be tried...

I kept looking at a scrap of sandpaper that was lying on my worktable,
 and thinking that maybe I could cut thin strips of it
 and attach them randomly to the Lilac shrub stems...?
The color by itself was close, 
but too monotone.... it would need painting.
(Do you see the narrow strip of cut sandpaper lying on the piece of bark?)

And here are my trusty lilac twigs too....
(Just for color comparison... 
because the twigs still need painting too.)

And the Real Life bark held close to the painted stems..... 
the color is close, but I am seeing more tan in the real bark.
Clearly I needed to make some more layers on the shrubs!

I painted the sandpaper in a mottled pattern... 
trying to approximate the colors of the RL bark, 
(but not worrying about precision because
 it would be cut into tiny strips.)

Then I tested adding strips of the sandpaper to one of the shrubs.
 I had decided that a cut edge was too artificial, 
so I needed to crease and tear the sandpaper
 into very thin strips in order to get a raggedy edge.

And because I was still just experimenting, I didn't take many pictures.
Meanwhile I was also painting the rest of the "twigs" on the unfinished shrubs....

And believe me, this takes a very long time!
And I was also completing blossom number thirty-three!
And here it is in the box with its buddies....!
But it was the bark that I really wanted to work on, Dear Readers,
 to see if I could make the stems look as 
old and raggedy as the ones I was trying to copy! 

Here you can see one of the strips torn from the sandpaper....

Here you can sort of see them attached to one of the shrubs...
The shedding pieces are all near the bottom of the oldest stems... 
the newer bark is not shedding.
And I needed to copy this on all the four shrubs!

I was liking the texture ..... 
here you can see one of the shrubs in place.....
( I know the lighting is a bit to harsh here....)

But the white paper edges needed to be painted.... 
and another lighter layer of color needed to be added to the stems overall,
 and to try to blend the shaggy bark seamlessly with the stems.

So I mixed more paint.... staying on the lighter side.... 
because it dries darker than you think it will! 
This mixed color when dried is the dark blob on the
 bottom left corner of the sample test-card.....!

Here is one of the shrubs with the sandpaper painted that lighter color....
 (hard to tell it is a lighter color!)....
 but I am really liking how this is looking!
 It adds just enough more of a three dimensional texture to the shrubs!

But there was one more layer of
 detail I wanted to add, Dear Readers, 
and that was very fine ink lines
 to simulate the cracks in the bark....!
Above you can see I have added them 
to the stems on the right, but not yet on the left...

And again, with a comparison with the Real Life Bark sample....
 Ohhh, I think I have nearly got it!
(You might have to poke the pictures to really see the details!)

And here it is again, in place in The Folly Garden...
All I have to do is draw those bark lines on all three other shrubs too!

Meanwhile, Rest assured I was not forgetting blossom number Thirty-four!

And here it is waiting in the box!
The shrubs are almost at a point 
where I can begin to safely add the
 completed blossoms to the stems!
(But I am way behind on my leaf-making....
 so it might be slower than I think...!)

I have to admit, I am very pleased with my shaggy bark!
And while I can't promise there will be no more
 layers of paint on these shrubs, Dear Readers,
 I can say I think my Lilacs will bloom
 splendidly in the Spring!


  1. I like how your bark is looking. One thing I've noticed with painting and trying to retain texture, is that paint can be deceptively thick. So maybe water it down a bit? And then layer it on so you don't lose your texture trying to match the edges.

  2. Que idea tan genial has tenido!! el papel de lija simula perfectamente la corteza del árbol y las ramas,me gusta mucho como te ha quedado!!!

  3. I too, like how your bark is looking, Betsy! I think that your torn sandpaper strips are a clever idea and your subsequent application has certainly produced the flaking look that you are after.
    Meanwhile the 34 lilac blossoms lining your box, are already making a Spectacular showing, and the gradient colour of each of the clusters is Gorgeous and I can already imagine their Fragrance!
    It is my Dearest Hope that we won't have to wait too long this winter, before we are able to celebrate an early Spring at The Folly! :D

  4. Hello Betsy,
    That bark is amazing. The idea to use sand paper was pure genius. It looks so amazingly realistic. The blossoms in the box are just magnificent. Keep up the amazing work.
    Big hug

  5. Just when I think they are perfect, you go and make them even better! Your tenacity has paid off again, and the bark looks even more real than the real bark! Great thinking using the sandpaper!
    A box full of lilacs... Did you ever imagine saying that? And the box is so full! 34 is definitely something to celebrate, and soon, after attaching them to the tree, you'll have a good idea of the number of them left to make as your goal! And, seeing how magnificent it looks, you'll feel more inspired and encouraged than ever!

  6. That bark is perfect! The blossoms are amazing.

  7. You are incredible! Those bushes look so very realistic!

  8. You really are an artist! the bark is stunning! Bravo!
    Hugs, Drora

  9. WOW, Betsy, what a fantastic and inventive solution for getting the bark of your mini shrubs, this is stunning work!! It absolutely looks fabulously good and authentic now. Yes, painting those twigs at the top must have been an attakc at your patience ;), I know!
    And hurray for creating blossom number thirty-three, they all look beautiful and for me it's the same: I can't wait to see them bloom in spring ;O!!!
    Hugs, Ilona

  10. Hi, Betsy - Using thin strips of sandpaper is an ingenious idea for giving your lilac stem bark a realistic "shaggy" look. I'm simply astounded at how real those stems look, especially after you've drawn in the "cracks." Tearing the sandpaper strips rather than cutting them sounds like a mind-boggling task to me - but the effort was definitely worthwhile in achieving the perfect texture. And thirty-four lilac blossoms! Did you ever think you'd see that day? You've done amazing work, and I can hardly wait for the delightful spring show!

  11. I am amazed by those lilac stems. Trunks? How many bushes will you make? Your patience continues to astound me.
    They look wonderful.
    Another reason to look forward to spring!
    Love you,

  12. Wow great idea using sandpaper. They look so real. Wow you have the patience of a saint ( an old saying ) :) Great work.
    Hugs Maria

  13. I'm late this time... you know… it's that time of the year… and I promise to avoid any mentioning of certain Christmas cards paintings, no, not me... instead of this I'm saying in all honesty that this post blew me away. It's not the first time that you're amazing me with making something even better that in my modest opinion has already been gorgeous. But this time your struggling for perfection really took you to a perfect tree bark. The "sandpaper effect" (should we add this to the trick box where the "glue trick" is already proudly in?) is genius and makes the lilac tree bark look shaggy and stripped as they really do in reality. Wonderful, wonderful work - and even No. 33 and 34 of the lilac blossom family! After enjoying the Christmas season I will absolutely look forward to spring - when your lilac tree will be in bloom!


  14. Hi Betsy! I sent you an email (well two, actually) asking if you would please send me your address so that I can mail this Christmas Greeting. Thank you dear! 😘

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  16. I am late in commenting, sorry! I love your dedication to get the bark just right. I love your solution with the sandpaper. And lilac blossoms 33 and 34 are born! You are so disciplined!

  17. Pretty projects and great idea,Thank you for the tutorial and for sharing !