How to Paint Evergreens in Watercolor

Written by simone wood
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How to Paint Evergreens in Watercolor
Capture their evergreen beauty with your brush. (chritmas trees without the Christmas image by Lauren Ingro from Fotolia.com)

Coniferous trees are lovely as artistic subjects, and watercolours work well as a medium with which to capture their grace and movement. While the task of rendering these green, bushy trees using such an aqueous substance may seem difficult at first, there are specific techniques you can employ in order to paint them successfully. Whether you are an admirer of balsam or Douglas fir, white pine or hemlock, a good brush and a set of paints can help you portray nature's evergreen beauties.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Set of watercolour paints (cake or moist pan)
  • Plastic palette
  • #8 round red sable watercolour brush
  • Jar of water
  • Tissues
  • Watercolour block or pad

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Dip your brush in water. Then mix 2 parts dark green pigment and 1 part dark brown pigment in one section of the plastic palette.

    How to Paint Evergreens in Watercolor
    Mix new colours. (Paint brush and aqua paints image by PaulPaladin from Fotolia.com)
  2. 2

    Rinse your brush and remove excess water with a tissue so that the brush is damp, but not dripping. Dip the brush in the paint mixture. Using an upward motion, with the brush at a 45-degree angle, paint a single line 3 to 4 inches long on the paper. This will be the tree's trunk.

    How to Paint Evergreens in Watercolor
    Practice your brush strokes. (malen mit pinsel und farbe image by Jörg Jahn from Fotolia.com)
  3. 3

    Rinse your brush in water. In a new section of your palette, mix 3 parts dark green, 1 part ultramarine blue and 1 part black. Rinse your brush and blot excess water from it with tissue so that it is damp.

    How to Paint Evergreens in Watercolor
    Watch how the pigments blend. (Mixed tempera colours image by millis from Fotolia.com)
  4. 4

    Using a downward stroke, paint a line of this darker pigment just to the left of your first line so that it overlaps the lighter line to create shading for the tree trunk. Rinse your brush in water.

    How to Paint Evergreens in Watercolor
    Concentrate on your technique. (painting woman image by Falk from Fotolia.com)
  5. 5

    Mix 3 parts dark green, 1 part yellow ochre and 1 part brown in a new section of the palette. Rinse and blot brush.

    How to Paint Evergreens in Watercolor
    Mimic nature's verdant shades. (highway travel image by Leticia Wilson from Fotolia.com)
  6. 6

    Using upward, arcing strokes, paint branches on either side of the vertical line (trunk) you have already painted. These branches should look like upturned bows or swan's wings, tilting up at the tips. They should taper, getting shorter as you paint higher up the tree. Add more pigment to the brush as needed.

    How to Paint Evergreens in Watercolor
    Render the shape and movement of branches. (pine branches image by yuriyklymenko from Fotolia.com)
  7. 7

    Holding the brush at a slant, using the same colour mixture, make short, sharp strokes coming out of the branches on the bottom, and some at the top as well. Rinse and blot brush.

    How to Paint Evergreens in Watercolor
    Paint intricate needles simply. (Evergreen image by Lidka from Fotolia.com)
  8. 8

    Mix together 2 parts ultramarine blue and 1 part brown. Dip the brush in water and blot until damp. Paint this dark bluish colour on the undersides of the branches and needles. Add more pigment to brush as necessary. Rinse and blot brush.

    How to Paint Evergreens in Watercolor
    Create the illusion of shadow. (shadow on beach image by pearlguy from Fotolia.com)
  9. 9

    Mix together 3 parts yellow ochre, 1 part reddish brown and 1 part medium green. Paint this colour on the right side of the trunk, avoiding the branches, using downward, vertical strokes. This will create the illusion of natural light hitting the tree.

    How to Paint Evergreens in Watercolor
    Show where the light hits. (light image by Ergün Ã--zsoy from Fotolia.com)
  10. 10

    Mix more of this same ochre-based colour if needed. Apply colour to the top sides of needles and to the branches in places only where highlights are needed. Rinse and blot the brush.

    How to Paint Evergreens in Watercolor
    Admire your finished work. (Painting of Tree with Sun in Background image by Sujit Mahapatra from Fotolia.com)

Tips and warnings

  • Place the watercolour paper or block on a flat surface so that the pigment does not bleed downward.
  • Work in a place where there is good light.

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