How to paint realistic trees and grass for landscapes in watercolour with Anna Mason

How to paint realistic trees and grass for landscapes in watercolour with Anna Mason


Hi it’s Anna Mason, and in this video I
wanted so show you how you how I layered up watercolour to paint
this tree and grass landscape. I worked from a photo and created a
pencil drawing of the outline edge of the tree and grass, with some of the darker branches
of the tree shaded in. I painted the sky first – I have a separate
video showing you how I did that – but crucially for the tree – I made sure I painted into
the areas where there are gaps in the tree and the sky can be seen. Once the sky was dry, I began, as I do with
EVERY subject, by painting the lightest tones, or values in the tree and grass. These were
a yellowish green colour. I created quite a watery pale mix and applied with my biggest
brush to the grass, and then with a smaller brush to the tree itself
– leaving plenty of gaps through to the sky behind.
Once that was dry I went straight in with the very darkest tones in the tree which were
the almost black areas of shadow on the trunk… watering down a touch where a lighter shade
was needed… then going back to the thicker dark mix to
work into the most prominent branches. There were a LOT of very small branches that
were this dark black-brown colour but I needed to hold off painting these until I was sure
the greens in the tree were dark enough. Because to try and darken up around the smaller branches
once I’d painted them, would likely lead to their black colour bleeding into the greens,
and the clarity of colour being lost. Having done that little bit of darkening up
I could see that I needed to darken the sky peeping through
the gaps a little further and it was important to do this now before the tree was painted
any more. So I applied some of my blue sky mix really gently with my brush so as not
to lift any of the dark paint I’d already applied.
Next I painted the dark greens in the leaves and grass. I used the tip of my brush and
created lots of little shapes to approximate the sort of detail I could see in the photo,
and allowing plenty of little gaps through to the sky and through to the original layer
of light green for the lighter green areas. Then I made my dark green mix a little brighter and applied to the areas of leaves
and grass that were this darker midtone green. Again I applied with a stippled sort of brush
technique to leave gaps. Next I brightened my green mix more, adding
more water too, so as to create a lighter midtone green, and applied in the same way.
I applied this mix as a layer over any of the blacks and darker greens in the tree that
I felt needed darkening a little too. I then used a larger brush to work this mix
into the grass, applying in short, up-and-down strokes and leaving plenty of gaps to the
lighter layer underneath to give a sense of the visual texture of the grass.
Now I could begin some tonal adjustments. Having darkened the grass a bit I could see
that the original pale layer was too light so I worked with my bigger brush to apply
a glaze, gently, of a light green over the grass to cover those gaps and also darken
the rest of it a touch too – without completely losing the texture I’d painted in the layer
before. With that dry, I continued to adjust the tonal
balance by using a smaller brush and adding some darker details.
Then I used a midtone mix to further work on the midtones to connect it all up tonally.
Because of the way we perceive tone as relative to the tones around it, now I’d darkened
the grass, I could finally be satisfied that the greens in the tree were dark enough and I
could launch into painting ALL the tiny black-brown branch details with my tiny brush. With those in place I also added some dark green details into the tree
and into the grass… With all that darkening done, I made some
lighter yellow-green adjustments Before completing a final round of adjustments
– this time adding more darker details into the tree as leaves and branches – including
adding a further layer to some of those already painted to darken them up enough and bring
the painting into balance. A full video class of this landscape, including
the sky, is available now in my online School. If you’ve enjoyed this tip video, please
Subscribe to my YouTube channel and I’d love it if you’d share this video with your
friends. And if you’d like to take one of my tried
and tested video classes FOR FREE, hop on over to
AnnaMasonArt.com where you’ll find even more resources to help you pick up your brush
and paint the way you’ve always wanted to. Remember, you won’t improve your painting
unless you MAKE the time to paint. So be sure to schedule in some me-time this week and
paint something YOU love. Thanks so much for watching and I’ll see
you soon to help you create watercolours with “wow”.

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