Painting Trees

So, What’s Your Favorite Tree – The One You Climbed as a Kid?

Trees are not as difficult to paint as they are to climb. I can paint them but don’t tree-exampleclimb them.


Although trees are made up of many parts and endless textures don’t let them become overwhelming, you cannot fall out of these painted trees.

I know you can paint good looking trees with a little help.
So lets see how you are going to do this without getting bent out of shape, irritated or what-ever you do when those Green Balls on sticks appear…….been there…done that.

This site will show you how. Are you READY? Pull up your chair and let’s go.


Here are a few photographs of some local trees in the neighborhood – mainly maple and red oak.

Lost Maples Tree
Lost Maples Tree
Lost Maples Tree

Just look at the foliage, without a doubt it can be a very difficult and daunting task. So you as a painter must simplify the task.

You have several choices.

1) Sponge it on

2) Paint Leaves

3) Try painting the mass of colors (my way).

[#1 & #2 not recommended.]

Try this way:

1) Decide on the shape, paying all the attention to the very perimeter of the tree.

2) Cut or form a stencil with paper, old towel (cloth).

3) Mix up colors, in this case – Yellow, Red, Burnt Sienna, Green & Blue – your choice.

I will use Winsor Yellow, Permanent Alizarin Crimson, Burnt Sienna, Sap Green and Antwerp Blue.

4) Choose a round brush at least a number 10, maybe a flat 1″ brush if you so wish.

But you must test all your brushes on a scrap piece of watercolor paper. The question is—–will they “release” the paint when you throw, tap or shake the brush. Test each one by doing the following:-

Load the brush, hold brush towards the end

Now imagine you are shaking a thermometer (the old fashion kind). The action should be a flick of the wrist that comes to a very abrupt stop. Off comes the paint. – GOT IT?

Not the easiest thing to do the first time you try it. Practice and more practice, or try this, loading the brush again, and tapping it against another.

By now, you should see some spots, irregular drops of paint on the paper.

Only work on a small area at a time.

Now take a spray bottle – Holbein Watercolor Spray , Dick Blick is one inexpensive source that I know of, Holbein Watercolor Atomizer Bottle creates a “stippled mist.”

I would not just buy one. They do not last forever, particularly if you push hard on the plunger.

Now you have the spray bottle. Pick out a blob or spot of paint, holding bottle very very close, about 1.1/2″ – gently spray trying to turn that blob or spot into foliage.

You want the bottle to put out a series of dots or water (no mist) most likely if you have a spray bottle it will put out a mist. This will cause a diluted solid area of color. You want dots and blobs sprayed to look like leaves.


After the stencil is in place, start throwing or tapping blobs (a spot of paint) start with Yellow, area size about the size of two postage stamps; then spray.

Repeat with Red blobs same size, spray. Keep doing little areas, joining them into a network of foliage, be sure never let blobs dry before you spray, leave gaps between blobs.






Now take a rigger or liner brush (dry) and pull paint from the wet area into gaps, this will indicate branches, twigs etc.

This technique will take some practice. Again, do not use a regular spray bottle, as it will mist all the colors together.

Go ahead and try…….see what I mean – a big mess.

This is a wonderful technique to use when you need a realistic looking tree full of foliage.

tree foliage in watercolor

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Image of a Book CoverWe are also working on several digital books on painting all types of trees, landscapes, etc.,  which will give watercolorists something to print if they want to have something by their side while they paint.

Come back soon and learn all about the latest books from Jim Black, Watercolorist.