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:
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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
- Watercolour block or pad
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.
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.
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.
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.
Mix 3 parts dark green, 1 part yellow ochre and 1 part brown in a new section of the palette. Rinse and blot brush.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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