Trees in watercolour

Trees in watercolour

I try to walk everyday , it gives me time to think and appreciate the world around me, even before lockdown I walked everyday. I think it gave me space and time to think about what I wanted to do , and gave my day a structure.

This week I thought I would concentrate on trees...

Whether they are near

or far there is rarely a view where they don't make an appearance

Ok so trees in watercolour are a huge subject and there is no way I can cover everything you might want to know in one blog, however this is just a starting point, some small tips to get you started and a fun thing to do if you want to have a try.

So how I thought I would explain things was by painting a tree, through the 4 seasons on the year. Showing you the ways I would approach each season and the tree. You can of course adapt the tree to fit in with your painting, but this seemed a good starting point.

I began by creating 4 windows on my A4 piece of paper, so each tree is small...and then sketching a tree in each space.

I began with winter,


first you want to create a wintry sky and atmosphere. I wet the sky then added some yellow ochre and paynes grey. 


Then onto the tree, you can really concentrate on the branches on this one. i find the best way is to choose a colour to go underneath then add a darker colour to one side , while the underneath colour is still wet , This gives texture and three dimensional feel to the tree. Always grow the tree out of a wet base, then it looks like it is growing out of the ground.

Think about the shapes, really look at trees, the branches are usually split when the tree is young and so a major trunk usually splits in two.

Try not to make branches echo each other, rather make them random 

I also added some backgound trees and foreground vegetation in paynes grey

Now we move into Spring, with a pale cerulean blue sky and a hint of yellow ochre at the horizon. 

I used an acid lemon yellow to start painting the leaves. Once a tree is in the leaf the trick is to see it as a single shape. I paint the lightest colour first,


then drop a slightly darker green into the lemon yellow. And then a darker green as the darker parts of the tree, and while it is still wet I pull out the trunk and branches. Painting some between the foliage and then letting the foliage  show in front of the branches.

The summer tree is painted in much the same way, but adding more greens and darker and brighter greens. They also cover more of the tree. The sky in this one is brighter too.

The trees in the distance are in full leaf, and you can barely see any of the branches.

Then finally I moved on to the autumn tree.

This is similar in foliage shape to the spring tree, but this time using yellow ochre and red browns for the leaves.

The sky is also a yellowy purple colour and the back ground trees have taken on their autumnal hues.

This is all a lot of fun to do and shows you how one simple tree takes on the characteristics of each season, I love to paint trees and add them to the backgrounds of paintings. the more you observe trees in the wild then the more you get a feeling for their shape ad form

Here are the 4 different skies

Then the finished trees and their surroundings 




Have a go, and move through all 4 seasons in one day ..wonderful x




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Hi Rachel
I love your blog and ideas. They have given me lots of inspiration and something to look forward to during lockdown.

Daniela chichester kaner

Brilliant, I love to paint trees this has helped especially with full leaf and backgrounds.
Thank you


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