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Nature studies with art is one of our favorite things.
Over the years, we’ve observed, walked, and learned about the world around us. Ask my boys just about anything about nature and living creatures and they will have an answer.
Two are entomologists.
One is a quiet observer.
One started his writing career telling tales about wild animals in exotic places.
And one loves to draw, paint, craft, and explore with nature.
I count it all as a win.
Last year my artist and I brought you the monthly nature journal calendars.
This year we’ll bring you monthly 10 minute nature art lessons and tutorials with some techniques highlighted a in a video.
Supplies for Your Winter Tree
Gather the following materials. Note that the under 10 minutes refers to the actual painting time! You’ll have to add in your preparation time.
- watercolor paper– we like the cold press the best which is textured, but any of them will do
- watercolor paint tray– a blank palette with tube watercolors is best, but you can use a tray of Prang watercolors too.
- tube watercolors– if you’ve never used these, they make amazing color
- paint brush– an angular shader works well for this project
- masking fluid– you can use painter’s tape, but sometimes it doesn’t come off as easily
- water– for cleaning your brush between colors and to lighten up paint shades
How to Paint a Winter Tree
Once you have all your materials together, it’s time to get started.
It’s pretty quick.
Here we go.
Tear your watercolor paper into a 3×4 inch rectangle or choose the size you’d like.
Apply the masking fluid with a dedicated brush. Start a little over half way on the left side and brush diagonally upward to make a hill.
Paint in the trees above the masking fluid on the hillside. These trees will be a little lighter green because they are in the background.
Once these trees dry, remove the masking fluid. Usually you work it off the paper by rubbing it and it rolls off.
It’s going to leave your trees on a snow covered hill.
Nice and crisp.
Next up, paint the large tree in the foreground. Use a downward brushstroke to paint the trunk of the tree and work the general shape of the tree in.
Notice how it’s not super detailed and exact.
Use darker shades of green for the tree in the foreground.
Now add the shadow at the base of the tree sort of from the trunk and downward to the left.
The light will be coming from the opposite side.
Now it’s time to add in a lighter gray blue color to the sky above the trees on the hillside.
This is not as dark as the tree’s shadow.
The finished piece of art!
Now it’s time to sign it.
We used this design in our Christmas cards this year.
I love to paint.
It’s never to late to learn, moms!
How to Mix Your Watercolors for a Winter Tree
We hope the tutorial is easy to follow.
One of the tricky points is getting the right colors for your tree.
In this five minute video, Rebecca explains how to mix the colors for your tree using tube watercolors.
The video is a bonus. If you don’t have the time or better yet, the bandwidth to watch this portion of the tutorial, you tree will still be beautiful!
Watch the video if you want experience the joy of mixing your own colors.
Points for a public presentation.
Nature Study for a Winter Tree
These artful trees are reminiscent of spruce trees. Take some time to learn about spruces. Or choose a favorite, like the blue spruce.
Some things to focus on:
- Habitat– where do you find spruce trees?
- Characteristics– what makes spruces unique from other evergreen tres?
- Diseases– in our area the blue spruce is in trouble. Learn about the fungus threatening the landscape.
- Classification– Classify spruce trees down to family and genus
Resources for study:
- Trees of Northern United States and Canada– a nice tree identification book with a dichotomous key
- Audubon Guide to Trees– a detailed guide with color pictures. Be sure to get the guide for your region.
- Eastern Forests by Audubon– this is probably our favorite tree guide. You can find one for your area. This is a bit of an older guide that includes the stages of a tree along with shrubs and it’s organized by biome.
Other Nature Art Posts
Inspiring Tools for Your Nature Artist– All the supplies you’ll need for any nature art project
Tools for the Watercolor Artist– More detailed information on supplies for painting with watercolor
Art & Nature with Beatrix Potter– Learn about this extraordinary artist and author and the times in which she lived along with nature study and art.
How to Make a Plant Journal– The finer points of creating and maintaining a journal about plants.
Tips for Botanical Illustration– Do you want to draw plants and make observations? This post has some pointers for being a plant artist.
Nature Journal Calendars– Last years series on nature study with a simple activity calendar and a place to record your observations. I will be changing this series over to a generic format for any year. The new calendars are ready, they are waiting on me to upload them!
3 Reasons to Make Hand Bound Books– This one is here because hand bound books and nature art go together very well!