WATERCOLOR TECHNIQUES: How to paint BIRCH TREES (tutorial)

WATERCOLOR TECHNIQUES: How to paint BIRCH TREES (tutorial)


Hello there, I’m Jane, I’m a watercolor artist
and in today’s video I will show you how to paint birch trees using pretty simple
and fun watercolor technique. Here is final painting, just a glimpse of it, and since
autumn is approaching and I really wanted to do something seasonal, I used a
lot of oranges, reds and purples in this painting, but you feel free to grab any
colors that you have available or you enjoy the most. As always, you can find
all the materials used in this video in the video description. First step will be
to create a base layer to tint the paper and stretch it a little bit. I chose some
yellow greens and purples, and covered the entire paper with a very light wash. This
layer needs to be completely dry, you can use a blow dryer to speed up the whole
process before you move to the next step, which will be to apply some masking tape.
You don’t have to cut the masking tape you can just use the masking tape
straight as it is, I just cut it because I wanted my birch trees to have a bit of
a variation between them. First pieces of masking tape are down and now I applied
another wash, this time it was slightly more saturated color, after I put it down
I dried it completely with my blow dryer. Now it’s time to mask the rest of the
composition, so all my birth trees were in place after that. If your watercolor
paper is not 100% cotton, it might not handle so many layers – just do one and
mask all your trees at once after that. Now it’s time to finally apply the
saturated colors that I’ve been looking forward to so much, so here are my
brightest red and oranges and a bit of a purple and for the dark tones I use
neutral tint, which is my new favorite dark color. Sprinkle some salt on top and
let it dry. Now it’s time to remove the tape. Here is
where I found out that a lot of the paint bled under my tape. This might be
due to several things, in my case I used rough paper, which has a high texture and
did not realize that this affects how strong the masking tape holds on to the
surface. It is sometimes caused also by you not pressing the masking tape enough
when you are putting it down onto the paper and also the quality of the
masking tape might be an issue, so if you wish for a clean result and you have
this issue, you can use masking fluid instead. It’s a common event in a
watercolor painting that things just don’t go our way
and sometimes there is nothing else we can do but to start over. But I often try
to see if there is a way I could use an accident in my advantage and in case of
these birch trees I think the accident paint actually helped me to provide some
texture to the tree trunks so – I like it in the end and I try to work with what I
have. Back to the tutorial, after we remove the masking tape, we need to do
some shading on the birch trees. The shading technique is not a complicated
one, but it also requires some practice. You need to put down paint and then
spread it around with a wet or damp brush. I have a new watercolor shading
tutorial prepared already and will release the video within a few weeks and
if you are subscribed to my channel, you won’t miss it. Grab a small brush and
paint few details on top of your tree trunks. In this stage, I noted that my
birch trees do not stand from the background enough so I decided to add
one more layer of a darker color. When I try to place colors carefully in
between these trees, I use two brushes that I switch in my hands, one is for
larger areas – it is a typical squirrel watercolor brush that holds a lot of
water, and the other one is the small synthetic, very very cheap brush that you
can get basically anywhere. These brushes complement each other a lot, the first
one is used for larger areas and it helps the water flow and the small
synthetic one helps me to be more precise in areas that are hard to get
into with with a large and heavy brush. In my opinion as a beginner you don’t
really need that many brushes, these two kinds of brushes will help you to do 90%
of all the things that you would ever need to do in a watercolor painting. I
also used some salt to create this nice effect in between the foliage of the
birch trees and the trick with using kitchen salt is that you need to put it
down as soon as possible into your wet paint, do not wait until your wash is dry
before you put it down, otherwise the salt just won’t work. This next part will
be a lot of fun, it requires very little of the actual watercolor painting skill
and I’m gonna be using a sponge to create some foliage on top of the tree
trunks. This is my first time using sponge so I wasn’t sure if I was to pre
wet it or use it dry but both ways actually worked. In this stage you are
free to experiment, what worked for me is to use slightly saturated paint, but
still water down and dip my sponge into it and then just stamped the paper. By
the way I find this technique to be so freeing and almost therapeutic, I would also
recommend to try it out if you currently suffer from an art block, you cannot go
wrong with this technique and what you create will look good, so there is no
pressure. You can also balance it out according to
your preferences, you can make it more colorful, less colorful, with more or less
foliage, the rules are your own. In the end, I added some tree branches using my
tiny brush, I did this with darker color to create more contrast. When drawing
these branches, try to free your hand, even lift it off the table and leave it
unsupported. This way your lines will get more flow. Lastly, after I removed the
masking tape, I decided to mix media a little and added color pencils on top of
the watercolor painting. Pencils can be very useful in adding a hint of color
here and there and create tiny details that you feel are missing.
You could add these with watercolors or white gouache if you don’t have pencils
but these are quicker and I often just look for opportunities to use them,
because they’re just lying around my studio and they have such a bright
pigmentation. And this is all there is to this particular tree technique. Did you
like it? I would love to hear your thoughts on trying out new watercolor
approaches and even your suggestions for my next videos, it will help me see which
one of these actually help you or inspire you and your feedback is always
so so appreciated. For next week, I prepared a studio vlog, you will see some
of my Inktober preparations and few sketchbook experiments with mixed-media
and this will be up on Thursday. Until then have a great week and I’ll see you
next Thursday. Bye 🙂

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