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Every Watercolor Leaf You’ll Ever Need: Winter Holiday Edition!

Our painting tutorial today is beginner friendly and will cover every watercolor leaf you'll ever need: winter holiday edition! I am using hot press watercolor paper from Canson, my Mungyo watercolor pan set and a number 3 pointed round brush from Raphael Kolinsky. I have mixed some dark deep greens and have the navy ready to go for our first branch of juniper.

To follow each leaf step by step check out the video:

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For the juniper I start with the berries in a few small clusters and run some stems through the berries with my dark green. Each of those branches is the base for the shape and I add on the little branches and the thicker base. Painting pine is really fun because you can get very creative and playful with it. The thin additions made by barely touching the page help give you the look of the pine.

I always love to add berries to my florals and botanicals so I went with these little red berries next. They aren't uniform in size and some are much lighter, I'll add a few more after adding the branches. For the branches I use purple to darken the brown and create very messy imperfect branches using the very tip of the brush.

For the classic poinsettia I am using white with a tiny bit of brown in it, but this can always be painted in red as well. I paint one petal at a time bringing each to a nice point. After the first five petals, I tuck five more into each corner after mixing a little more brown into my white. The leaves, I created by running the belly of the brush across the page. They can be different shapes - I always say its a leaf if you say its a leaf. Now the flower should be dry and I can add more shading in the corners and center. Some yellow dotting represents the stamen in the middle.

To compliment the classics I had fun creating a few branches, using the tip to create a stem and the belly of the brush to create some leaves. You can always refine using the tip of the brush but keep it simple!

For the pine I use just the tip of the brush for the entire thing. I pull the brush towards me and add a little pressure at the tip and let the branches slowly fan out. I used a few different greens, and love the way this pine turned out!

Eucalyptus is another great accent and is created in much the same way - using the tip of the brush for the stem and the belly of the brush for each leaf. Play around with the color adding some blue to your green for a very cool wintery color.

We definitely need to include some holly, starting with clusters of the berries in red. For the leaves I marked each one out first with only water on my brush, then released some bright green paint into the wet area. I added a darker green into the area to get a nice wet into wet blend. This one needs some experimentation, I liked the last two leaves I did best with some negative space and great blending. On the first two I added some darker green afterwards since I didn't get enough blend of the two greens.

Adding some purple into the mix I painted two little clusters of berries, connecting them with some little stems and more leaves in brown.

Ending with another pine bough in addition to the juniper and white pine. I started with a stem of three and then used quick, short, little brushstrokes. I kept it all very messy and organic and slowly added more water so it became messier at the bottom and keeps it looking like watercolor despite the thin lines.

After everything is done you can always refine with some wet on dry to add a little more detail. Any of these will look great on some holiday cards and are a great way to embrace the winter! Have fun!

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J Sylvest
J Sylvest
Jan 17, 2021

I had so much fun painting along with your tutorial, thank you! I painted two 4x6 sprays for my entryway! Would love to get the brush you used but I've had trouble finding a Canadian supplier - any suggestions?


sheri fenton
sheri fenton
Nov 10, 2020

These are beautiful and you always do such a great job teaching! I think with what I learned I am going to be able to make my own christmas cards. Thank you.

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