Learn to paint pine trees, feathers, birds, eggs, and more! In this video I'll share my process for painting some forest favorites! My supplies are as follows: I am using Arches cold-pressed paper and have a couple of my pointed round sable hair brushes ready. Note that the paper I'm using is a watercolor paper block, which means the paper is already stretched.
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Today I am starting with my greens. We’ll have a lot of greens, browns, and natural colors in our palette and we’ll add to it as we continue our painting.
With a little brown on the tip of my brush, I’m starting with a broken line to create the trunk of the tree. With a whole bunch of green paint in the brush, I use the tip to start the rest of the tree and allow just a little paint to flow out at a time, creating a stippling effect with a dotting motion to paint the branches. I’m pulling from two shades of green, mixing both together, to give me this beautiful natural-looking pine tree. You can get messy, add a little brown to it, and allow the colors to blend on the page. For a less prominent trunk, I did the second one starting with the green. Just start with a little line and then mess it up adding the stippling loosely along the branches. I added the trunk in after and the brown blended beautifully into the green.
Starting with a yellow ochre mixed with brown I’m starting with a semi-circle that comes to a bit of a point. I left a little bit of a highlight but you may not want to include that on every one. With our brown, we are going to create a little cap on it, with a larger curving line across the top. For the second one, I started with more of a circle and then added the cap - the two colors blend together really nicely. I joined them with a delicate stem to finish our pair of acorns. After it dries I can add more detail using wet on dry. I darken the shadow beneath the cap and add a richer brown over the ochre.
Tip #1 These are all natural items so the shapes can be really organic and imperfect.
I wanted to do something a little different than my usual flowers and I was inspired for this one by Scandinavian folk art. I start with a curving stem, pull the brush across the page to create some leaves using the belly of the brush. Using a contrasting color like pink, orange, or burgundy, I am creating a messy burst for the flower. I added a funny little stamen with little circles at the end - it’s not a very realistic flower but I think it goes with our woodland theme. Once dry, I am adding a darker red to give the bloom a little more shape and dimension as well.
Starting with a dark purple with burgundy and a little brown to give me this rich dark color, I started just painting circles for the berries. They can really be in any shape or cluster and using a dark brown, I connected them with curving lines and broken stems. I mixed some of the same burgundy into my green for a darker autumn shade. Using the belly of the brush I added some leaves, using the point to create a little more definition on each. To keep the berries from looking too flat I added an even darker purple once they were dry.
For this one, I really want to get the color right. I am mixing some of my evergreen with a light aqua and a little grey. Be sure to test it on some scrap paper first. I am working out the shape of an egg on the paper, guiding the paint out, and defining the edge of the egg. At least one or two highlights of lighter areas will help make the egg look rounded.
Once it is dry you can add the speckling. With a lot of paint in the brush, I let it flow out the tip and very delicately use the point to create tiny dots. Take your time and let it be messy and random so the dots are different sizes and randomly spaced.
Tip #2 When I make a mistake I don’t stop - I tend to push through the mistake. I added a little shading before my dots were dry and they started to bleed together. Instead of leaving it, I kept going so the egg was consistent and then re-added some highlights when it was dry.
With a creamy beige, I started a few mushrooms. I created a long thin stem and then let the belly of the brush hit the page to create a rounded top, but they can be any shape. Using a little dark brown I add some color wet on wet to the bottom of the stem. On a shorter mushroom, I finished the cap off by going over it in a dark red leaving some spaces as spots. With wet on dry, I will add more details onto the cap of the mushroom and shading at the top of the stems.
There is a video and blog post all about mushrooms if you want to add more variety:
A quick curving beige line makes the quill and I am using a watery brown to paint the feather one little line at a time. I sort of flick the brush outwards with quick little lines. I left some white spots and took paint from different areas of my palette to the brown gradually changed and blended together. With the same beige as the quill, I added a few small curving lines at the top to balance it out. After this dries I am adding another layer of thin dark brown brush strokes to help with the nice rich color and create that ‘feathered’ look. I added some black dots to give it a bit of a pattern as well.
I wasn’t completely happy with my robin’s egg so I wanted to create another. Again, I am working out the shape on the page and leaving a couple of highlights. I used a darker beige to the sides to add a bit of a lowlight. Once dry I am adding the shading before the dotting (the mistake I made with the robin’s egg), by using a slightly darker beige. Then with a black-brown, I am adding the spots and splotches again when it’s all dry.
I used a pencil line for this one and then followed it with my mossy green painting tiny little leaves. They get a little larger as I move down the stem and are all angled up. As you move further down little stems or branches come out from the center so the leaves can stay small. Just like with the trees I am pulling from different areas of the green on the palette, the result is a very organic looking lively fern with several shades.
Remember its all organic and natural so it's perfectly imperfect, random, and messy. Have fun with all things foresty and woodland!