How To Paint A Tree Using Watercolor - A Demonstration Lesson.

Art lessons on Video; beginner through advanced tips and technique on how to paint with watercolor.

Art Lessons by Captain Watercolor

Here is a detailed instruction of how I paint a realistic tree. Although my style is not necessarily yours, it would be a good starting point.


The clusters of leaves that I talked about in the first part of this lesson, each get their own light. Some are mostly in full sun with only little shadowing below. Others are in full shade, and are painted with pretty much one color and one value. In between are leaf clusters with very interesting shadow patterns. I paint leaf shadows a very blue green rather than a darker green. Its a pretty advanced concept, but its covered in my lesson "Shadows In The Landscape".


Every tree has "sky holes". The are less likely to be in the middle where the tree is densest, but as we get to the edges there are those holes. The tree holes are more prominent in spring and fall, and less so in the summer, but a tree without holes is a lollipop.


A very important trick in painting a tree is connecting it to the ground. Just soften the edge of the base. That almost always is the touch you need. Finally, don't forget the shadow the tree casts on the ground. It too has "holes".

You want to take Part 1 before this one.

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Watercolor palette showing a warm and cool paint for each of the primary colors This is a map of the captains color
palette. See materials list below...

The map shows the location of each of the paints. The group on the left are the sedimentary colors. Those in the right are the non sedimentary colors. The palette is just a cut down ice cube tray.


...( sedimentary )

0 - Red

1 - Yellow

2 - Green

3 - Blue

...( non sed. )

4 - Cool Blue

5 - Warm Blue

6 - Warm Red

7 - Cool Red

8 - Warm Yellow

9 - Cool Yellow