Have you ever wanted to paint with watercolors on a wood surface? I’ll not only show you how to make wood a suitable surface for watercolor but also how to paint a pretty ornament too.
Painting with watercolor is my passion but sometimes it can feel limiting to just paper surfaces. A few years ago I discovered watercolor ground. Once I learned how to use it the possibilities of what I could paint on were endless. Now, each year I paint wood ornaments using this technique and I am excited to share it with you!
Prefer watching the video walkthrough?
- Wood slice as the base of the ornament
- Watercolor ground
- Acrylic paint brush
- Paint palette
- Metallic purple watercolor
- Metallic blue watercolor
- Black watercolor
- Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bleed Proof White
- The Pigeon Letters brush round #10
- The Pigeon Letters brush round #2
- Small eye hook
- Gloss varnish
Step 1: Prepare the Wood
Choose a round slice of wood for your ornament and clean any debris off the front side. Using a firm brush, such as an acrylic brush, paint a thin coat of watercolor ground on the wood. If the watercolor ground is too thick (I prefer it to be a little thicker than milk) mix water into the ground on a palette. Paint three thin coats of watercolor ground on the wood slice allowing it to dry between each coat.
Looking for some new brushes? We gotchu - these are the only brushes you'll need.
Step 2: Smooth the Surface
Once the watercolor ground is dry sand any rough places left from the painting the ground. Sand very lightly trying not to sand the ground down to the wood.
Step 3: Paint the Sky
I prefer metallic watercolor paint for ornaments because they sparkle and shine in the lights of the tree, but any watercolor paint will work. Begin with purple at the top and fade it out halfway down. Then paint the blue starting at the bottom, also fading to the middle where the two colors blend. Once the two colors are blended smoothly, let the paint dry before adding a second coat.
Step 4: Add the Trees
With a small paintbrush, such as The Pigeon Letters round #2, use black to paint lines for the tree trunks. Angle the lines toward the center of the wood making each a different height.
Paint the branches on each tree starting at the top where it is narrow making the tree wider at the bottom. The best part of painting trees, they don’t have to be perfect! Let it dry.
Step 5: Define the Trees
The trees look great as a silhouette against the sky, but if you would like to give the trees more definition add an additional layer of black paint to the left side of each tree. Paint just a few darker lines down the left side of each tree.
Then using a small amount of Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bleed Proof White, add a few lines of white down the right side of each tree. By placing the dark black on one side next to the lighter white on the other the trees appear three-dimensional.
Step 5: Add Stars!
With the Pigeon Letters round #2 brush and Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bleed Proof White add dots of white to the sky for stars. An opened paperclip is also a great option to dip in the paint for more control when adding stars.
Step 6: Add Varnish
Add a light coat of spray gloss varnish to the painting. This will help keep the painting on the ornament from fading, protect it from liquid, and add a little extra shine. Remember do not spray inside, I always take it to the back porch for this step. Let the varnish dry completely.
Step 7: Get Ready to Hang
Carefully choose the spot to place the small eye hook at the top of the ornament. Screw the hook directly into the top side of the ornament.
Once the hook is secure add twine and tie it together so the ornament is ready to hang. Add a signature and date to the back and you have a one-of-a-kind keepsake to enjoy or share.
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and learned something new and I would love to see what you create! Feel free to tag or contact me on Instagam @katherine.urban.art
See all of Katherine’s tutorials on the blog!
Katherine is a watercolor artist based in north Texas. As a Florida native, the ocean is a central theme throughout her work. She has loved both art and the ocean for as long as she can remember. Growing up, her favorite place was at the beach or in the water.
Although she's been creating art in one form or another for most of her life, it has only been in the last five years that she has had the time to create art for herself. Watercolor is her escape, her calm moments in her busy life.
In addition to ocean themes, she loves to paint landscapes of nearby farmland. As an artist, she tries to capture the undisturbed beauty of nature, a place where the chaotic world can be forgotten, even if only for a moment.