Creating landscapes : painting pine trees with watercolor | Sarah Van Der Linden | Skillshare

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Creating landscapes : painting pine trees with watercolor

teacher avatar Sarah Van Der Linden, watercolor artist & nature enthusiast

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

9 Lessons (39m)
    • 1. intro

    • 2. supplies

    • 3. inspiration

    • 4. the color green

    • 5. painting a single tree

    • 6. 8 ways to paint a pine tree

    • 7. composition and depth

    • 8. final landscape

    • 9. project time

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About This Class


Hi everyone, and welcome to this class about painting pine trees in watercolor!

I really love painting landscapes and especially pine trees because they are great to create soothing atmospheres.

In this fun class, I will share :

  • how to mix the color green
  • what supplies to use
  • 8 ways to paint a single pine tree
  • how to create a landscape with multiple layers of trees
  • my tips for composition and how to add depth to your painting


This class is great for beginners, or anyone who want to explore and discover new techniques, or just want to have fun painting pine trees!

You will find here my others classes about watercolor :

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Sarah Van Der Linden

watercolor artist & nature enthusiast


Hi there, my name is Sarah also known @mirglis on instagram. I’m a watercolor and gouache artist living in the French countryside.


I believe that nature, inspiration and imagination are deeply connected, and for me, creativity is a long road leading to a better observation and understanding of the world. I'm most myself and happier when I'm in a forest or in the middle of nowhere, and that’s why all my inspiration comes from nature. I love painting landscapes with watercolor, playing with water to create textures, and patiently adding one layer after another.


You will find here on Skillshare different classes to learn to paint landscapes with waterc... See full profile

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1. intro: Hi everyone, and welcome to this class about painting pine trees in watercolor. My name is Sarah, and I'm a watercolor artist from France. I love painting landscapes and especially pine trees because they are great to create housing atmospheres. This year, I completed the unburden project about the color green. I ended up painting a lot of trees. I now have a great technique that I want to share with you today. In this class, I'm going to show you how to paint pine trees and how to create a landscape with multiple layers of trees. I will cover everything from mixing new greens to learning different ways to paint a single tree. I will show you all my tips to create interesting textures with watercolor, water, ink, and salt. I will also talk about composition and how to add depth to your landscapes and things to keep in mind while painting, your projects will be to create your own Landscapes using all the techniques we learned in this class. I've created a board on Interest to give you ideas and inspirations and helps you get in the mood. This course is right for beginners or anyone who wants to learn to paint trees with a simple technique. I'm really excited about this class and I will see you in the first lesson. 2. supplies: Let's talk first about the supplies you will need for this class. You don't need a lot of things, and I think you can just use what you already have at home. I will just show you what I have to give you an idea. You will need watercolor paper, the brand does not matter. You will need brushes, a small one, and some bigger ones. You will need a watercolor palette. It can be made of porcelain or plastic. You will need two jars of water, one to clean your brush and one with clear water. You will need paints. You can use tubes, or you can use a band sets. You will need green and a yellow and a blue. To add some interest to the trees, we will also use some extra tools. This is kitchen salt, white ink, a tiny sponge, and a nickel brush. I would recommend that you use what you already have on hands. In the next video, I will teach you with means of forest to gather some inspiration. 3. inspiration: For me, painting a landscape is all about conveying an atmosphere. More than focusing on tiny details. Imagine yourself walking in the forest of pine trees. You can feel moist under your feet, and smell the scent of [inaudible]. Try to fill the place just as if you were there. Look at the trunks. How they look, their size their texture. Observe how needles are creating some footage and gives the tree its personality. Look at how the sunlight is passing through the trees. How the sharp of the trunk is standing out, image a breeze of fresh air on your skin, and that's you're totally alone in this landscape. I hope it helps you to get in the mood for painting pine trees. I also created a board on Pinterest for you with photos and paintings to give you some inspiration. You can find the link in the project section of this class. 4. the color green: Before we start painting, I would like to talk a bit about the color green. You can use either premix green straight from a tube or a pan or you can mix your own green. There is no right or wrong solution. It depends on what you have, where you are, and what you want to create. Let me show you what greens I use most of the time. This is a small palette that I carry with me when I'm painting outside and I put all of my favorite colors in it. As you can see, I have four different greens, olive green, two sap greens, one from Sennelier and one from Van Gogh and a chromium oxide. I will show you how each one looks on the paper. Let's start with olive green. Do not hesitate to add more water to see how it looks when it's diluted. The second one is the sap green from Van Gogh. Same thing as before, I'm adding water. This one is a sap green from Sennelier. The last one is the Sennelier chromium oxide. You can try every green you have at home and see which one you prefer and which one seems more natural. Try to add more and more water to see how each green looks when it's diluted. The other possibility is to mix your own green using one yellow and one blue. See what happens if you add more yellow or more blue. Let me show you a little exercise. You can create your own shots. First, you start by using far more yellows than blue in your mix and you gradually add more and more blue. Let's start with yellow. This is the permanent yellow from Van Gogh. When it's used alone, it looks like this. This blue is an ultramarine blue. Now, I will gradually add some blue in my yellow to create different in greens. Add a drop each time and see how it looks. Then you add another drop and another drop and another drop. Can you see that we have now eight different greens? Now, let's do the same thing with another yellow. This time, it's a gamboge from Van Gogh. You can see that it's warmer than the other one. I will use the same blue, the ultramarine. This is one way of doing it by preparing your colors in your palette. You can also choose to mix your green straightly on the page. Let me show you. This time again, I'm starting with yellow. I will add a pinch of blue on the page. You can see that when it's blending, it's creating different shades of green. Just another thing to keep in mind, the greens you choose also depends on the mood of the landscapes we are going to paint. If you want to create a mystery or dreamy atmosphere, you can add more blue like this one. But if you want to convey a sunny or summery field, you can use a warm yellow. I would recommend that to choose or mix one or two greens on your palettes. In the next lesson, we are going to paint some trees. 5. painting a single tree: First, I would like to show you how to paint a single tree, a very basic one. We can say that the tree is made of a triangle, and the length for the trunk. First, start by drawing a line for the trunk. Then with loose brush strokes, you start painting from the top to the bottom. Always start from the outside to go to the inside. You can see that my brush strokes aren't straight. They are growing from top to bottom, always. Remember, that you have to be quick because you don't want the trunk too dry. Do not seem to match about what you're doing, because the goal is to have a random shape. Go always with loose brush strokes. Your whole tree, need to remain white during the entire process. Be quick. Now, I will add green straight from my palette, because I want the color to be more saturated. I'm still doing the same movements with my brush, from top to bottom. You can see that it creates an interesting picture on my tree. This is a basic way of painting a pine tree, a very simple one. In the next video, I'm going to show you how to add septum variation to your trees. 6. 8 ways to paint a pine tree: There are many ways to paint a pine tree and you can make certain variations and tweaks to add interest to your painting. I'm going to show you different ways of painting the same tree, using the same simple shape. Basically, remember that the pine tree is always made of a triangle for the foliage and a line for the trunk as we saw in the previous video. So let's start with a small brush. So just to remember, I'm going to draw a triangle, and the line for the trunk. My first one will be a basic one. I'm painting the trunk first and then with loose brush strokes, I'm adding the foliage. This is exactly as we did in the previous video. So this is our first one. For the second one, I'm going to use my tennis sponge, and I will wet the bottom of the paper first. I use clear water, and I'm gently wetting the paper. Then, I start from the top. Then, I'm painting the foliage until I touch the water. You can see that when my brush is touching the water, the paint starts to blend. You can see what is happening here. The bottom of the tree seem more wild and lose. For our third one, we're just going to add a few drops of blue to make a better tree. So I'm starting with green and I'm painting the trunk first, then the foliage. I'm going to paint the whole tree with green first. Before it dries, I will add blue. Just a few drops and lines. I'm painting mostly on the bottom because this is where the shadows are. Now, we are going to do exactly the same thing but with yellow instead. Same thing as usual, I start with my trunk, and then I'm painting the leaves with my green. This time, I'm adding yellow, a few drops, and try to add them mostly on the top to create sunlight. You can also add a bit of yellow at the bottom, but less than on the top. Our next one is going to be a little more fun because we are going to use salt this time. First, I'm painting my tree. I will add a bit more green, a darker one this time. I'm using the kitchen salt I've shown you in the supplies video, and I'm just sprinkling it on top of my paint. It won't work if your paint is already dried. That should be enough. You will be able to see the result and remove the salt when you're painting has dried. For the next one, I'm going to wet my paper first. I'm using my tennis sponge again with clear water, and I'm just touching the paper carefully because you don't want to add too much water. You can see that my green is spreading in the water, so my tree will be blur. You can use this technique for a tree that is in the distance, far away from you. For our last trees, I will use white ink and wet on top of the paint. So white ink first. I'm doing my tree as always with green paint. This is white ink. Just like we did for the yellow and the blue, I will add a few drops of white inks in my green paint. Really, just a few drops. The last one will be a little bit different. I'm painting a simple tree again. I want this one to offer misty look, so I would wet water just on the top of the tree. I am using a clean brush and clear water. Just a bit of water, not too much. I'm just creating brush strokes on the top of the tree. All these trees pretty much have the same shape, but their textures and color are different. You can use this variation to create a landscape with multiple layers of trees and mixtures that all your pine trees look different. For example, you can use the one with the white ink to create a misty atmosphere, or use the one with blue for the foreground and add some depth to your painting. It will be easier for you to understand what I mean when we'll be painting our final landscape. 7. composition and depth: Before we start our final painting with a pine trees, I would like to give you some advice about composition and outward depth to your watercolor. You have to remember to always start with the back and your lightest color because the goal is to overlap the trees as we go along. I'm taking this painting as an example. You can see that the green I used is more intense and opaque here. If we use a cutoff shots we did in lesson 4, we can use this curve as a back row and this one for the front. We can use these shades for the individual trees. Another thing to consider, is that the trees will be smaller and tighter on the back. You don't need to add a lot of details and you can use a bigger brush to do so. The more you are painting towards the front, you not need to add details and your trees will need to be bigger. This time you can use a smaller brush. To sum things up a bit, for the trees on the back, you need to use light colors. The trees have to be tight, they need to be small, and you can only add a few details. Now, for the trees that are in the foreground, you need to use dark colors, your trees has to be spaced, they need to be big. This time you can add as many details as you want. The last thing to think about is how to insert two rows. You don't want to paint straight lines all along your paper because it would be repetitive and boring. If we imagine that a line is a row of trees, you don't want to do something like this. You can see that it's very monotonous. It will be more interesting if you paint wavy lines like here, here, and here. Let me show you. You can see that it's way more dynamic and interesting. In the next lesson, we are going to start our final landscape. 8. final landscape: Until now, I've talked a lot about theory and give you a lot of information. It's finally time to put into practice everything you learnt. I'm going to show you how to paint this landscape with multiple layers of trees. You can see that I've cut a small sheet of paper and kept it on the back of my bed. We are going to start by painting the trees that are on the back. We are going to use a very light green. I will use this green here but with a lot of water. Let me take a bigger brush. You want to have a color very, very light. I will use my sponge and clear water. I am going to wet the paper where the bottom of the trees will be. I will do this for every layer because I don't want to paint the trunks. You can see that I've made a curve shape with the water. Take a brush that is not too small and start painting your trees as we did earlier. You start with a trunk and you paint the foliage. Try to be quick because you don't want your first tree to dry. You can see that, I'm painting my second tree on the right of the first one and now, I'm painting on the left. Then, what the edges? If your paper has already started to dry, you can use your sponge again and add a bit more water. You don't want to add too many details because these trees are the ones on the background. I'm going to add a bit of water again and do something like this. I know that this green is very light and that it's hard to see on the video. But it could be better when I will be painting the other layers. I'm going to leave some wide space here because I don't want to paint everywhere. I want to add a bit more water. We have to wait for this fact to dry and then we would paint another layer. So for the second layer, we are going to paint something curvy to rob the top. I will wet the paper with my sponge again. This time, I will use a green, a little bit darker and I hope you would see it better. My brush crocs are very loose. For the top of the tree, I'm going to paint the cleaner line with my small brush. Remember that, we are creating a wavy line. I'm going to stretch the green throughout the back. Same thing as before, with my small brush. I'm going to paint a fine line for the top. I would add some water with the aqua brush to create some texture. I'm doing this pretty randomly. I don't have anything in mind. This time, I'm going to pencil trees on the left. On this layer, I want to add some white ink. The trees are still in the background, so they need to remain pale. We can also imagine that there is a little bit of mist and the white ink will be perfect to create that atmosphere. I'm going to add a few drops with my fine brush. [inaudible] 9. project time: Your project will be to create your own landscape using all the techniques you learned in this class. You can either use a premix green from your palettes or mix your own one. Have fun experimenting with the textures of the trees. You can also go to Pinterest to get inspiration from the border created, especially for this class, with photos and paintings. You can find the link in the project section of this class. Make sure to upload your project because I really want to see it. Thank you so much for joining me in this class. I hope you are now ready to create a lot of landscapes. If you like to see any of my photo classes, please click the follow button and pause this video. Have fun.