This quick and easy tutorial will have you painting a watercolor pine branch like a pro! It’s so easy, even if you haven’t painted with watercolors at all this is a great paint technique for beginners… And ’tis the holiday season to give it a try! For this tutorial, I’ll be using dry pan watercolors (so you can even snag your kids set!), mixed media paper, and a thin pointed round 4 watercolor brush when painting a watercolor pine tree branch. There’s even a video in this post you can follow along with!
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Before you begin painting you might be asking when reading the supply list…why use mixed media paper instead of watercolor paper?
I find for beginning watercolor painters that mixed media paper is not as absorbent as watercolor paper, and gives the painter a little more “play time”. Many times, watercolor paper, especially cold press sucks up the water so fast, there isn’t a chance to blend at all. By using mixed media paper (which is less absorbent), the paint “sits” on the surface a little longer so there’s a small opportunity to not only blend, but a greater ability to fix mistakes and add details. and unlike watercolor paper, thicker mixed media paper doesn’t have to be prepped beforehand.
You’ll notice in the watercolor palette, I have 4 pine needle colors : Dark green, Sap green, a mix of the two, and yellow ochre. The brown is burnt sienna which is the pine branch color, and then I lifted a little red to add on my stem. You can use either tube watercolor paints or pan paints. I used dry pan paints and then lifted them into my palette for mixing and diluting for my artwork.
(If you are nervous about drawing the line when painting a watercolor pine tree branch, use a watercolor pencil to sketch it first and it will blend right in with!) Start by painting a brown line on the paper with a pointed round brush. The trick to using a paintbrush like that is using the tip to make a thin line and then using pressure on the brush head to create a thicker line while pulling the brush down. In the video you’ll see me use the pressure on the brush to change my line thickness.
I added two lines for my pine branch, but you can only add one, or three. It’s all up to you. I went off a sprig from the spruce pine tree in my yard. Once the branches are painted, use the dark green paint and make short strokes from the branch out using the tip of the brush. Work down the branch to where they meet. Turn the paper if needed to make it easier to paint.
Once both branches are covered, mix the dark green and lighter green (Sap Green) together in equal parts to make a medium color. Repeat the strokes as before, filling in any open areas between pine needles and moving slightly farther down the pine branch. If you find you have too much water on your paper, use the edge of a paper towel to lighting touch to your water glob and it will suck it right up into the paper towel!
Keep on painting with this How to Paint a Winter Scene tutorial
Repeat with the Sap Green on it’s own and then at the end with a few strokes of Yellow Ochre. This will give your painted watercolor pine branch depth and dimension. If you find your paint gets muddy, make sure to change out your water often to clean water when rinsing your brush.
And that’s it! That’s how easy it is to paint a watercolor pine branch! You can use this sweet pine branch to make an accent on handmade cards, gift tags, holiday decor, or create a bigger art piece such as a seasonal wreath painting by adding a layer or two of these on top of each other. Have fun experimenting too when painting the pine needles. Draw the brush out to create a longer pine needle, and use different shades of green (or even blue) to create different pine branch types and varieties! I have a watercolor pine tree tutorial that you can do to paint an entire forest of watercolor trees!