How to Paint Birch Trees for Beginners

painting Apr 24, 2022
How to paint birch trees

Painting tree bark can sometimes be challenging, especially if you're not usually a nature painter. Today I'm going to walk you through a very simple technique of painting birch bark that you can paint your own beautiful trees. First, let's talk about the supplies you'll need!




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Step 1: Get Dirty!

For this fun tutorial, we'll be using mostly water and hardly any paint. So, first thing I want you to do is to make your water dirty. Yup, that's right! In this case, a tiny bit of pigment will go a long way. You can do this on a separate piece of paper so that you can test out how transparent your color is turning out to be. 




Step 2: Wet the Paper

We're going to be using a wet-on-wet technique, starting off with adding some water in long brush strokes onto your paper. Once the paper is wet, go ahead and add some of your "dirty" water to it - you can use any color you like and feel free to make the shapes imperfect. That's the beauty of nature!



Wait for it to dry halfway - you don't want it to be fully dry if you want to get that nice, subtle bleed when adding details. Pro tip: to see hot wet your paper is, tilt it sideways to spot if there's a sheen.



Ready to explore more nature treasures with watercolor? Grab yourself a copy of Peggy Dean's Guide to Nature Drawing & Watercolor.



Step 3: Add Details to the Bark

Grab a darker color and start adding little lines to the outer sides of your tree bark. To do this, set your brush down for a few seconds so that the pigment makes a nice mark. You can also drag them a little to make the look a bit more organic, and you'll start seeing that beautiful bleed coming through.



As you're doing this, if you see that a certain area of your soon-to-be tree is not wet anymore, add some extra (clear) water to that spot.

Pro tip: if you've gone a bit too much with your water, grab an edge of a paper towel and dab it gently to take off the excess water. Then, go back in and add some clear water while dragging out any leftover pigment. Now you're ready to go add the details back in!




Step 4: Add More Trees

If you want to make your paper look more like a forest, add a few more tree trunks to it and carry on repeating the previous steps. Be sure to work quickly when adding in those details so that your paper remains wet enough.



Now that your beautiful trees are done, be sure to tag me on Instagram (@thepigeonletters) so that I can see your work!


Why not pin this tutorial for later too?