How to paint pine trees

Written by bethany duvall
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How to paint pine trees
A pine tree landscape (winter landscape image by Marius Lazin from

Pine trees give structure to a painting. When you paint pine trees or any natural object, use at least two colours on the paintbrush at a time. This will help you avoid a cartoon style effect by giving your work realistic texture and adding dimension. The following instructions work for oil or acrylic paints. Feel free to vary the colours to match your personal style. One great way to do this is by using complementary, or opposite, colours instead of similar ones.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Paper (acrylic)
  • or
  • Canvas (acrylic or oil)
  • 1/4-Inch flat paint brush
  • Water (acrylic)
  • Linseed oil (oil)
  • Paint: burnt umber, Payne's grey, white, Prussian blue, Hooker's green

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  1. 1

    Start with the trunk. Pines typically have long, slender trunks with a slight bend to them. Load your paintbrush with brown, grey and white. Do not blend the colours. Turn the brush so the bristles create a vertical line. Dab the brush in vertical strokes to create the trunk, lifting slightly but not completely between strokes. The unmixed colours will create the texture of bark. Keep your wrist loose. If you are worried about mistakes, draw the trunk with a pencil first.

  2. 2

    Use the same three unmixed colours to create the branches. Start with the paintbrush on the trunk and move it outward in short strokes. The branches should be longest at the bottom. They should grow shorter as they move up the tree so that they form a slightly irregular triangle.

  3. 3

    Clean the brush. Load it with blue and green paint. Do not mix the colours. Create small, overlapping strokes that begin at the branches and move out from them. It is OK to cover the branches partially or completely, depending on how full you want the foliage.

Tips and warnings

  • Paint your background first. This makes your trees look like they are in the front of the painting.
  • Oil paint dries slowly. Be sure to use it in a ventilated area, especially if you choose to clean your brush with turpentine instead of linseed oil.

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