This fun little watercolor video tutorial will have you painting pretty pine trees in under ten minutes! Grab your watercolor paints and follow along!
What do you need for a watercolor painting…
No matter the kind of art you’re making it’s always helpful to set the stage for your art making and have everything you need ready! In this case you’ll need a set of watercolor paints. When I’m buying for large class use I usually stick with basic Crayola cake watercolors. The colors are nice and bright and clean and the price cannot be beat. The watercolors you see in the pictures below are my own personal set. They are still student grade (and price) but the many color choices make them so fun to use! You can find my watercolors here!
My paint set comes with a built in palette for mixing colors. You can use the lid of your paint set or grab an extra plate to use to mix your colors!
You’ll need a soft paint brush, midsize will do. And you’ll also want to have a paper towel or rag handy for blotting excess water.
It’s always preferable to use watercolors on real watercolor paper. It’s heavier, so it can handle the water that comes along with watercolor painting. And it has a nice texture, or tooth, to the paper that’s different than painting on card stock. Student grade watercolor paper isn’t so expensive and it makes the painting process that much more special! If you don’t have watercolor paper though, card stock is the next best thing!
How to start your pine tree painting…
Imagine your pine tree as a cone. A cone is a three dimensional form that is a circle at it’s base but comes to a point at the top. Start painting at the top of your pine tree- the smallest part. Imagine that you’re breaking the form of the cone down into a bunch of imperfect rows of branches.
The first row of pine tree branches is basically just a tiny splash of color. Each row gets just a tiny bit wider. A few rows in you should start to see that triangular shape forming.
Painting your pine tree…
Each row of branches is an up and down “scribble” of the paintbrush. Because you’re working with watercolor paints it’s important to always keep plenty of water on your brush, as well as color. If the brush begins to look “frayed” on the end and the bristles go different direction be sure to add a little water to your process.
Each time you add more color to the brush play a little with adding a bit of a new color. The water will help the shades and tints blend together and your tree will look more realistic and interesting if it’s not one flat color.
Adding a tree trunk….
Your pine tree is “done” when you’re happy with the size and shape. Now it needs a tree trunk. Get a bit of dark brown on a soft, small brush. Imagine dabbing that color in spots between the branches anywhere the tree trunk might peek through. This isn’t an exact outline, rather just a suggestion of a tree trunk.
Then add the bottom of the tree trunk, peeking out of the bottom of the branches. This can be just an irregular swatch of color, no neat lines required. Now, if you do this step while the green of the branches is still wet the two colors may mix a bit. That is okay! In fact, I think those new, sometimes muddier colors, add to the painting and make it look more real and more interesting. If that mixing bothers you or your student just save the tree trunk painting till the branches are dry!
Anchor your tree…
Use a lot of water and a tiny bit of color of your choice. Paint a loose line under your tree to anchor your tree down. Grab a brush full of clean water and dilute that bit of color down till it fades out to the white of the paper. This line doesn’t need to extend all the way across the paper. That bit of color is just a suggestion of the ground. It will prevent your trees from looking like they’re floating in outer space!
Are you a visual learner…
If you like to learn by seeing then this step by step video tutorial is for you! Let me walk you through the steps I use to paint a pine tree as I paint along beside you!
What does your pine tree painting look like…
I love painting natural subjects because there is so much variety. You could paint ten pine trees and each one would turn out a bit differently. Experiment with the size and shape of your pine trees. Try painting trees that overlap. Combine different sizes and patterns of overlapping to create the illusion of depth within an artwork.
Do you want more winter inspired art….
Learn to draw a pine tree- no paint required- in this step by step video lesson!
Use cut wax paper snowflakes to create a snowflake watercolor resist painting.
Use painted paper to create a Christmas tree shaped weaving.
Use free printable templates to make Christmas tree shaped luminaries!