Friday, August 31, 2012


There are almost as many ways to paint trees, as there are artists to paint them.

 Here are 5 different tree studies, with a variety of approaches you might try:


Sketch a tree in pencil, and then lay in the foliage and grass, with a light mingling of yellows & greens (quinacridone gold & sap green). . .

Wet each shape again, and add some darker/cooler greens & blues (quinacridone burnt orange/sap green and sap green/cobalt blue), to suggest volume.  Keep the first light/warm wash visible at the top of the clumps. . . 

When this has dried, paint the trunk, branches, and a simple cast shadow (using quinacridone bt orange, perylene maroon, and French Ultramarine).  Add a few dark marks for emphasis in the leaves. . . 


Do a mingling (wet-in-wet) of warm colors.  When the wash has just a "sheen" to it, sprinkle on some salt, and let it dry completely. . . 

After it's dry, brush off the salt, and draw a simple tree and grassy foreground line.  Paint the negative shapes with a mingling of colors (golds, oranges, reds, and a bit of green). . . 

3)  SPATTERING/MISTING -- Flowering Tree in the Spring

Draw a tree, lightly in pencil.  Paint the trunk and branches first . . . 

Loosely cover up the areas that you don't want spattered, and mist the exposed area with clear water . . . 

While these drops are wet, spatter some pinks and reds and magentas, and a little green.  Use a brush for this, tapping your finger to spatter the paint.  Then, spatter on some clear water, and then touch some of these drops with a brush loaded with the paint (pink, red, or magenta).  Let your brush "dance" across the paper, dropping in paint in a "lacy" way. . . 

4)  MASKING & MINGLING -- Palm Trees

Draw a palm tree, or two, in pencil. Then, paint a wet-in-wet underpainting, with quinacridone gold, cobalt blue, and quinacridone rose. . . 

Using watered-down masking fluid and a quill pen, apply the mask to the negative shapes -- everything other than the palm trees. . . (apply this with a Q-tip to the big shapes).

When this is completely dry, mist your paper with clear water, and mingle and spatter your warm colors -- (quinacridone gold and burnt orange, sap green, for the mingling; and cadmium red and cerulean blue, for the spattering) --

Let this dry completely, and then remove all the masking (with a rubber cement eraser, or your fingers).


In pencil, draw a group of stylized trees -- interweaving trunks and branches, with no leaves.  Take them right off the top and sides of your paper.  Then, draw a few wavy, horizontal lines, behind the trees. . . 

Leave the trees white, and paint the background shapes, in a rainbow of colors.  When the background is dry, erase all the pencil lines. . . 



  1. AWESOME!!! Your painting always blow my mind!

  2. Thanks for the comment, Susan -- I really appreciate it!

  3. Thanks for the awesome tutorials. I'll have to try most of these. :D

  4. Dear Pat Howard I can't wait for tomorrow am to try all your techniques.They sound to be very easy.I have birch trees in my yard, that I have tryed to paint them during different seasons and I am going to use some of your methods.Thank you so much for sharing your talant .09.06.13

    1. Wonderful! I hope you have fun trying the different methods. I love birch trees!

  5. Thank you for the lesson! I did the negative white trees with the rainbow background. I did change one thing-I masked off the white areas to keep them separate. I could not figure out how to allow enough wetness to get the fading you have in the colors without them all bleeding into the trees! I did have a little bleeding under some edges after I removed the masking tape (don't have any fluid right now which probably would have worked better), but I touched them up with white paint. It's only my third watercolor, ever, so I am pretty pleased with the results. Next I will try your aspen leaves!

  6. This was really great! Thanks so much for showing the step by step process!

  7. Lovely! Your techniques are easy to follow. I love painting trees and am always interested in learning different ways to interpret them. Thanks so much!

  8. I think you are a great teacher you really know how to explain something to a beginner thank you

  9. These are very informative and brilliant ways to do trees.

  10. Thanks for the techniques! I'm drawing trees in watercolour for my art exam and this helped me a lot!

  11. This is absolutely beautiful, the colours remind me of sunsets.

  12. Una lección magistral.
    Muchas gracia por enseñarnos tu gran sabiduría.

  13. Awesome techniques of painting thanks for sharing us

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  15. Fantastic information. I'm about to do a workshop on watercolour painting as I've never done it before (I work in acrylics) and this information was fantastic - great examples also.