It’s been a while since I’ve done a no-art-skills required painting tutorial! This is a great painting lesson for beginners! I was painting new designs for pillows and I thought I would share how to paint a birch tree using acrylic paint. You’ll love how to paint an easy birch tree on canvas, and the overlapping trees have pretty depth. There’s also a video with this post of a slightly different technique so you can see another way to paint them in a step by step in action. I love this technique, I’ve used this to paint a birch tree mural on my dining room wall.
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I painted the the birch trees in a stand (or is it cluster?) and I loved how it turned out, this would also be so pretty painted as watercolor birch trees as well. If you don’t want to paint your own, you can find the pillow and towels here. 🙂 I get asked quite a bit if my tutorials can be used for group painting and painting projects! Absolutely! Grab some wine and paint away. I just ask that you make sure you let your group know where the tutorial is from, and if you are sharing on social media such as your blog, Facebook, or Instagram,that you give credit and tag me so I can see how awesome it is! This is so easy and fun, and a really great winter painting project to do on a snowy day with a blue sky. You can watch the video tutorial in this post for techniques and tips to paint them in acrylics. if you need to, you can also keep this post open for a photo reference.
While I am using paper for my surface, but if you are going to want to keep it as artwork, use a nice canvas. I am going to refer to the surface in the tutorial as “canvas” even though I used mixed media paper.
The paint supplies you’ll need to paint your birch trees:. Titanium white,navy blue, black, and gray acrylic paint for the birch trees and then your background is up to you (I used a light blue, gray and I added in a little mustard yellow) Painter’s tape, A large flat brush, a small flat brush, a canvas, and a round brush.
Use a pre-gessoed canvas for ease of preparation. Start your canvas by painting your background with a large flat brush ,and don’t forget to paint your sides of the canvas as well. You can leave it plain white as well, just use painters tape or masking tape on the edges to keep them clean. I wanted a wintery feel so I used a little blue paint as well. You can use a pencil to make random lines before painting if you want a guide for your tree placement.
Then layered a little washed out yellow and then some gray on top. If you feel like the blue colors are too bright, go back over it with some white paint for the background color to mute the color slightly. While I chose to paint a blue sky background, using other colors such as black or even dark green can give a deep in the forest feel to your painting. Don’t be afraid to experiment. This painting technique is so easy, once you get the hang of it you could paint an entire series with different colored backgrounds. A darker background would certainly add extra dimension.
Next, Use a small flat brush and your white paint to make lines in different thicknesses to paint the birch tree trunks. This is the base for the white bark. Painting the trees like this has a loose feel and give variation to your painted birch trees.
Then, take your round brush with a little gray paint and paint lines on each side of your tree of the white paint lines. You can do this on both the right and left side of the trees. When you paint the line, use a wet technique and slightly mix the grey paint into the white paint. Letting the inner edge of the brush drag a little when painting helps get that “barky” look, and makes them look more like real trees…so be messy, it helps the project!
After you do that, use black paint (with the round brush) to go along the very edge of the gray paint on the side of your tree. Don’t cover up the white areas completely. I find holding my brush at an angle makes it looks a little more natural. It’s also very important to off load your paint on a clean paper towel a bit, so it’s on the slightly drier side so it’s not too heavy or too gloppy.
Once you have your soft edges done, it’s time to go back and add your sideways lines with white paint with short strokes with the round brush. These are what give it the classic-wrapped bark “birch look”. If you add too much paint, you can use a plastic card or palette knife to scrape the paint off and repaint.
Accent your white paint with gray paint the same way. It helps do do heavier paint strokes on the front trees, and lighter strokes and less paint on the back trees to give the birch tree paintings more depth. To add some shadows take some slightly watered down gray paint and brush it behind some of the trees. Just make sure not to do it all over, leave some of the bright background showing through for dimension.
And finally the last step is to touch up any areas on the trunk of the three with a paint brush with black paint when painting your birch trees. Keep your strokes loose for a more organic feel.
Wasn’t that fun and easy??!! The next time you have a painting party, feel free to use this fun tutorial! You can also buy the design here on some pillows as well as other designs.
Want more paint tutorials? A great beginners paint project is how to paint a sunflower with one brush.