Hello, my name is Jacinda. Welcome to my tiny art studio (just an art table, really). Grab a cup of coffee or tea and settle in. I’d love to have you join me and create something beautiful. Right from the start I want to tell you not to feel intimidated if your artwork doesn’t turn out looking exactly like mine. I don’t expect it to resemble mine identically because every piece of art is a little different than the next one even if they’re of the same subject. Also, as the old cliché says, “Practice makes perfect.” So, with that little disclaimer out of the way, let’s get started!!
First, the list of supplies you’ll need:
- Watercolor paper. I use precut 5×7 cards, but you can use any size you want.
- Watercolor paints. You’ll want a basic red, blue, yellow, and a dark green if possible. Brown can be achieved by mixing equal parts of the 3 primary colors together.
- A basic round brush. I used a #1 Round for the entire project. You can switch between sizes if you wish.
- A water pot of some sort.
- A palette or plate for your paints, unless you’re using the pan style of paints.
- A cloth or paper towels for blotting.
- A “test paper”.
Next, we will begin by drawing the basic line drawing. This is where you have plenty of time and space to mess around with the design and layout until you are satisfied. I begin by drawing the basic branch shape, and then doing the berries. Last of all, I draw some loose lines for the pine needles. This doesn’t have to be a lot of lines; just enough to give me a mental picture of how I want them to look. You want the pine needles to look natural, so draw them lightly. Don’t draw them or the branches as perfectly straight sticks. Once I have everything where I want it, I will gently rub an eraser over the berries to lift off some of the graphite. I don’t want pencil lines to be too visible around their edges.
We will begin the actual painting by doing the branches. As I said before, you can make a basic brown by mixing equal parts of red, yellow, and blue. If you want a warmer brown, add more red. If you want a cooler and darker brown, add more blue. As you paint the branches, think of where the light is coming from. Paint the back and underside of the branches a little darker since they are in the shadow. Do this by letting the first layer dry and then adding another layer or so where needed. At the end of the large branches, I give them the “fuzzy look” by using short brush strokes to make short lines at the tips.
Next, we will do the berries. Since they are so small, we want to get them done so that they don’t get covered up. Start by mixing a little bit of red paint with a lot of water. This will keep the first layer light. Remember that paint always dries to a darker shade, so don’t worry if it looks rather pale to begin with. It should look like a very light peachy pink. As you’re painting, leave some white on the upper left corners of some of the berries. This will be the highlights and helps to make the berries seem shiny.
Once the first wash of red is dry, choose some that you want to be darker (for any berries that overlap, the one in the back should be darker). Add another layer of red, this time with a mixture of water and paint that has more red in it. Once again, avoid the places where you want the highlights to be. While still slightly damp, use a mixture of red and blue (purple) to make some of the berries darker and to add shadows to back and underside of some berries. By doing it while the berries are still slightly damp, the colors will blend better. You can add as many layers/washes of red to your berries as you like. Just remember to let your paper dry in between each wash. And don’t overwork the paper until it rips!!
Now we are ready for the pine needles. If you don’t have green, you can mix your own using yellow and blue. Using your green, mix 2 different shades – one with a little more blue and brown added and one with slightly more yellow. Be careful not to overdo it on the yellow. You don’t want a spring green! Now, using your “scratch paper”, practice doing pine needles. Some can be thicker, and some can be thinner; but they should all taper off nicely to a point. You achieve this by holding your brush lightly and lifting as you come to the end of stroke. Once you are comfortable with the results, you are ready for the final steps!!
You can start by lightly brushing in the stems for the berries. That way they don’t get lost in all the other green. If you need to later, you can darken them up. Now, starting at the top of the picture start putting in the pine needles with your lighter green color. Follow your pencil lines and cover them up. Notice how the needles kind of curve out a little and then back in toward the stem. Do not make them stick straight out. And notice too how I added some extra little bunches of needles at a couple spots besides just the end of the branch! Once you have some light green on your paper, start alternating between dark and light some. This gives the illusion of layers and depth. This is the point in the process, where you need to keep stopping and evaluating. Don’t overdo it on the needles. You don’t want it to look like a whole tree, just a few branches!! But you also don’t want it to look too sparse. Step back and look from distance to gain a new perspective.
Jacinda is one of my close friends, she has been very supportive of me in our endeavor with this blog, and that means a lot to me! She is an amazing artist who can paint or draw just about anything! Her cards can be purchased here. Check them out, as they are gorgeous. Thanks so much for doing this tutorial for us! May God bless you! -Kinza