Painting a Birch Tree in Watercolor | Wilhelmina Bodine | Skillshare
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5 Lessons (40m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Materials Needed and Let's Begin.

    • 3. It's beginning to look like a birch tree! Adding Values.

    • 4. Finishing details.

    • 5. Closing Remarks and Thank You!

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About This Class

This class shows students how to create a single trunk of a birch tree using fascinating, daring colors!  Once tree is completed, students will have the knowledge and skills to create a clump of birch trees and place it in any landscape setting they wish.

Meet Your Teacher

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Wilhelmina Bodine

Give yourself the gift of watercolor!


Related Skills

Fine Art Creative

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1. Introduction: Hello and welcome. My name is Vilhelmina Bodine. I'm a watercolor artists and I live in New Hampshire. We have many birds, trees in our surroundings and you may also and probably there's a clump somewhere that holds a special place in your heart. I would love to invite you on a journey to paint just a simple trunk and toe Explore some really unusual colors which might frighten you a little bit at first, but I guarantee you that you will love your results. Um, I also show you some simple branches of how toe make those come out and look very natural. We will have some photos of actual tree to help you decide on how the hell holes, little black marks and dark marks work. So I will walk you through all of this. Come with me on a wonderful journey. And please give me feedback off how successfully you were. Because I know you will be. Thank you so much. 2. Materials Needed and Let's Begin.: for our supplies, we will need a pad of watercolor paper. At least 100 £40 weight is very helpful. We will need a nice sharpened pencil, and I'm using three round brushes on number 10 and number four and number two, as well as 1/2 inch flat brush and a liner brush or rigger brush. You can have any variety off round brushes you have. If you have a six and an eight or 12 that's perfectly fine. Just brushes that you're comfortable with for you also want a paper towel. Four are colors. We are going to have a cabbie in orange. Always make sure you mix your colors on your palate with water, so your soften the pigment in there with the fillers that they make it with. So this is his second wash that I'm putting over a dried cat me and see how much darker that gets. Its a second coding. We have a Turk Waas or an aqua. We have, um, off. This is a nice, great purple. It's the color that Graham Barker makes, but it can be any nice purple that you have, and these were going to be the three beginning colors off Bridge Street. Don't let us scary. What's gonna work? I promise. This is yellow Oakar. We have burned number and I have a gray here dark. It's a lot of second time when we're using. Our lines are tree. I tend to mix a little bit more color in with my grey. I add some ultra marine blue, and here I will play on my actual palette. If I think it's too much of a black color, I will soften it up with with a nice alter Marine blue. Okay, and I'll mix it here. You can also add a crimson red if you prefer, so that's what we use for our basic colors right onto our sketch. Start with 1/2 sheet of paper. The rough side is facing you. You can draw on the smooth side. It will just take longer for colors to absorb. The colors are very beautiful in on that side, Um, so we can certainly do that. A tree trunk. Um, a tree trunk on a bird's tree tends to only be slightly wider on the bottom. It's not like a maple, and it's a nice soft line. Remember the pencil lines are allowed to speak, seen on a painting in watercolor, but it's more personal preference. You may not want that up to you. Also, my pains are gonna creep into the sides and create what we call a hard edge. I do want to give a hint of my side branches coming in just so that I can raise the pencil line ahead of time because I don't want to have those in my way. I'm not gonna worry about all the side branches yet. Notice. I'm pulling this towards me. I always reverse my work when I'm doing branches, because I think my hand just pulls into a nicer point. And I think it's a more elegant shape. Often I see trees being done on. I see this, and that's because it's that forward motion with your hand and you just can't do it. However, if you do that tree trunk and you pull your hands in reverse, you pull it toward you, you insulin yet a nicer flow. Okay, so it's a really good technique to play with. Now. I think race this little bit of a mark here, so it's not in my way. I'm not completely locked into having to do it there, but at least I've gotten rid of my line ahead of time. Maybe a small little one can come over here. You can certainly add more. Don't worry about this. Where branches come in. The tends to be a lot of brown, black ish stuff in that area. So it's a great way to feed the men in that. That pencil minus so light it's not going to bother us. Okay. So just it might just help you to know. Okay. My sunlight is going to come from the right to this time just for fun. So I sometimes just put a little mark there. Especially helpful if you don't get to your paintings all the time. Sometimes you don't even pay attention to that. You want to make sure you are paying attention to that by having that little bit of a mark ? Okay, that way you can return to at any time and see Oh, yeah. My son is coming from the right because this is going to be a painting against a white background. I need to make sure I do give color on this side and the inside of this in here, where my finger is running, that's where the highlights will be. So when I'm wedding, this I will wet this year. Give it a nice straight line like that. Squeeze a little color into that if I want, and I'm gonna wet way more on there. Shadows side. This is my number 10 round brush. Feel free to move your paper. I have it on an angle. Always like to have my work raised up a little bit. It's much better to draw. It would be even better if I drew with standing up on my easel. But this is such a small tree right now for practice that I don't want to pull that out. It's always nice to have gravity help you and look at your work this way now and then. Also because it's more natural to look at things straight up. Things aren't lying down in nature, okay, Sometimes it needs a little bit more time to pull into the paper. It's cold in the house today, but it's still, um, it still needs to be given sometime. The warmer it is, the quicker these colors will pull in. Hopefully, you can see with the light Where my white Linus, I try not to have a totally straight line. Um, I'm a rescue back. A little bit of that. Um, you could always cover a pure white, but you can't get it back. So now turn it sideways and I'm going to start a little bit of this. Orange is cadmium orange. They like a little dash line. Clean your brush. Take some of you ready made aqua that you're already mixed on your on your palate when the palate could just be a porcelain white plate, they work rate. I used them for years and then here and there to pin your You're nice, moth. And again, we're gonna turn it around without that move itself. I see an edge over here that I don't like. This is when I do start creating on my edge a little bit. If these colors were to mix enough, I always pick up your work and just play with it because it's the best way to that. Colors emerge. I hope my awkward didn't stain too much, even though I was what I went to start with, it's a little stating I can see. But that's all right. Some of this color can carry through to your son that side. This is just the beginning of the layer. And guess what? We have left most of it off in a minute. So, um all right. You can definitely still see where my colors are in patterns. So they may have stayed a little bit more than I wanted to, even though my paper was wet and my pain was mixed. Well, the aqua and the purple seas are very staining colors, but that's okay. We're gonna need them all in a little while. Don't let it scare you. Okay? So you lift us off, gentle motion, make sure your fingernails are not sharp into your towel, because you will actually get your fingerprints in there and you'll have a line where all the paint wants to creep into. All right, So I'm gonna go this. Well, it's still damp. I'm gonna go to some a little bit more traditional colors with my yellow Oakar. I'm kind of doing the same thing a little bit. I'm just putting these colors in. That base coat is just a lovely, warm, warm tones. I won't put in summer number again. I do want to give this shadow side. I mean, the lights. I Excuse me, the sun site. I do want to give it some definition. If you saw from your lines here, you could easily add to them later on. Okay, Just soften them with a little bit of water so that there's not a hard edge. Ah, hard edge is created where the paint meets the water and where the water ends. Okay, so if my waters ending right on this tree bark site, that's where the most of the pain is going to creep and want to stay there. And it's gonna dry up there and give you a hard edge, which is fine, because my tree should have a definition without me outlining it. Okay, so I want this to still flow. Okay? I have a little little mess going on here. That could be the bark peeling, but I can laid around. This is why we have a flat brush. And that's why I use this paper. Because this flat brushes of wonderful way to lift off bill imperfections like that I will show you when it's completely dry. I will show you how easy it is. Noticed? I'm pulling most of this off. The second layers are almost all gone too. Now I'm going to give it a chance to pull in and just let it dry for a little while before I add another layer. 3. It's beginning to look like a birch tree! Adding Values.: before we start, we're going to lift off this middle. This little piece here, that's annoying. So all you do is take you wet, brush your flat brush and simply gently lift off this color. Hopefully, most of it will come off. Sometimes it takes a few layers again. If it doesn't told me. Come off. Make the birches always have that fun. Barket starts peeling, so we can certainly will take a look outside and see what that's doing. And, uh, play with that. So this is a very wonderful tool to lift this off. This is one reason I recommend this paper because this paper will let you do it from the Waterford in the Yellow Tab, where some other colors don't. I don't actually. Some other papers will not let you left office. Well, is this will? This is what I recommend for all my beginning students. And then eventually way build up to some other names. Okay, this tree is completely cry. I'm gonna wait a little bit. I don't mind that being wider does the tree could be a little wider on the bottom. I'm not going, Teoh. I'm purposely stalling a little bit, cause I want this to dry up. Because if I were to put color there right away where I've just lifted off the color may want to keep in there. I don't think slightly smaller round brush. And I'm gonna feed some more colors into this that I was using before. You still see some of that blue in that orange. And what? It's what I love about this. You can add some water, spread it around. If I like what I'm getting now, I'm not going to lift off, or I may simply lift off in a few places. That's always your option, right? You can lift off where you want. Won't you start the wet on wet? You can do that. Skip around again. I'm gonna turn it around, take some of this and bring some of this to my life side. That little line actually got rid off where that tree ends. That birch comes, that branch comes in. Yeah, No worries. There's a lot of a lot more pigment is gonna be added to the branches, especially branches could be very red. Brownish the birds trees. They can also have a lot of white in them. Depends on the verge. I've seen both kinds of my travels and doing Moshe yellow Ochre. Right now, this just started giving it some definitions and I can see what I'm working with. Any time I'm not gonna finish the branch, I'm gonna finish it with water so I don't end up with a hard edge in the middle of my my branch. Okay, Kind of like what I have here. Take some more, more raw number. Making sure it's well mixed If you don't dilute your colors well, they will never draw in your watercolor paper. It's simply pigment from from the to pigment and Sylar that you have not given a chance to mix. Well, they will not dry, and they'll stick to your glass if you framed them. So another reason it's really important to do this. Yes, assist the dark delight side, but I still can put some of those brown's in there. That's some That's what some pain on the side of my brush. It wasn't missed, so it's leaving a ugly little stain there. Not to worry, we are, but that's good to always. Check the side of your brush, which I didn't do for a moment there, which is not good. Remember the birch trees? They're gonna get lots of little lines and stains on them. So no worries times. That's fine. If that happens, my flat brush might be able to lift that out. I don't mind right now. Bring it in a little deeper and take some of my fun beginning colors. Keep moving that paper around. Keep jumping around. So you're not just working on one section. If you get better in sections and you learn things when you're working here and there, the tendency often is to cover something like this. See what a cool design I have there. When I started painting, I would immediately cover that up. Theology? That's not supposed to be there. No, I'm trying very hard to let that happen. Just see if it's something I could work with later. So this is like the second or third layer over color, and we keep building values that's looking good. We still have our light side. We still have our dark sides notice on my Browns air just down here, so I'm gonna bring a few more. Brown's up here really to start helping suggests that This is the dark side in Seattle. Site unnecessary. Okay, Spot of water. Then we can help this branch grow a little for their. It helps to start seeing them shape are like that. But I'm gonna spend a little bit more time in my next session, My next segment to show you how to really work up the trees, The tree branches. OK, don't worry about those yet. It's just nice to know that that's where you have them. And that's of course, a little bit too orange there. Okay, Scattered around. I try to always bring my colors in at least three places on my work. I think this is a little bit too dark, which it might be. I'm gonna take it out. I always come back. Let's skip around a little bit. I don't want to lift too much of the shadow side, but I am gonna lift a little bit more on the light side. Very important to preserve that white in there to make this carry of the birds tree. For a moment, I'm gonna show you another painting I've done in a composition where it's basically the one we're working on here. But I added two more site trees as a compass today, so often grow in a clump. This is many, many layers, but already you can kind of see that this is where my white was kept. Okay, and that's really important to sit still carry with all these colors in it. It's still carries as a white tree. Part of that is that these darks, when we add the branches and our next few sessions, um, my future movement next, few demos because these are so dark, it's going to make the white look even whiter. And yet there's very pure little pure white. I think there's a little pure white in there and for the rest of really isn't, and it carries. So don't let the color scare you even see the aqua. As you can see the purples, you can see the oranges in here. You can see the yellow Oakar, and it all tends to work, all right, actually, another one for a moment that I've done for the birthday calendar. And here is a whole row of them, and behind there we simply have a little composition of a field, and we have some distant birch trees, which you could put in with white crayon. Or you could simply pencil the men and work around with some evergreen trees. And this, of course, ended up being a very small picture for a calendar I've done. But once you have learned how to do this, you can put them in any composition of your choosing, which is the fun part. So let's work on bringing in these branches. So they started looking like they belong there. We have some nice burned up ready, and I'm gonna get my alter marine ready cause all the marinas a great great color to add to brown to make things look anchored turns to the side for a minute. And I am gonna weathered a little bit again. Me for those parties still pretty damn from what I just did. And I'm gonna make this color this tree branch looked like belongs here and said It is being stuck on there. Remember, you can't put too much color at this point. You don't have to worry, because why not? Let's have three or four layers of water and color, and it's very easy to lift that off if you don't want it my alternately try it back around and I won't let that creep in. I can take some of my grey when I always feed that into the tend to be very dark spots where these come into a tree. I know it's a little dark on purpose because once lets you see how much fun of this is to play with that. Thank you. Take your night. Don't move some of those cool white spaces there. I might decide to just have the bottom of the tree. I think I wanted to just make my branches darker on this, Okay, just for the sake of and I am gonna switch to my liner brush in Just a moment for these side branches. This is not gonna drive right away, but I can let it creep down a little bit to suggest a roundness of the tree. All right, so let's go along with a bigger brush. Let's go on with the rigger brush just to pull that branch in, and then I'm gonna show you how to lift some of that out. So I'm gonna go back to my ultimate to my burnt under here. Give your regular brush doesn't have a nice point to it. Roll it in your paint and get a nice round tip on it again. Your hand. This is in reverse so you can make a natural looking line natural looking lie. Okay, I'm left handed, so I tend to prefer to pull my branches all one way. So if I can only do that, you have to change direction of your paper because she can't have only left hand branches going angle. Just watched the wet paint there on bright tree. Just because you've done this doesn't mean this is all you can add. Come right off the page. It's probably more graceful looking. All right? There are a lot of side branches on these, but again, don't get too carried away with too many of them. If you're emphasis in this painting is going to be the actual Burge drunk. Okay, now, this has already softened a lot. I go into it with my round brush, and I could take my paper, tell dab a little bit away. We're gonna let this rest for a world and come back to 4. Finishing details.: close. Closer to the end. I see that we lost a little color in here where we had that little back run. So I'm going. We went in just with a very almost a dry brush. But you certainly don't want to lift up the previous color. All right, let's somewhere colors go in here. Okay? Nice. And, um, even that the darkest colors are where the trees come in. We can still add a little bit of warmth here and there. Some of the even if he lifted off, it still gives it a nice. Okay, We switched to a smaller brush at this point, and I'm gonna work on some of the larger areas, like thes with some wrong number and maybe some of that great I had. And then at the very end, I'm gonna do these tiny little lines. And sometimes I also use This is the inside of the tree where you can see it more against that orangey be lovely color. But this is what we see. Um, and I see all those colors and then just certainly a little bit more colors, but it's fun to add colors that you might see in your head or seeing your tree. It is a broken line. Go straight as they go around the tree. It has a slight downward curve to give the illusion that the tree is It's round even though in that stretch it is, it was completely straight. So I'm gonna take a little bit of this brown, and I'm gonna make some markings in my tree. National six Can You don't like what we're doing? It tends to be a lot of these little upwards almost a little mountain. Then a few lines underneath, back here softly of it, Softened a bit, A little bit too far there looking at something else. We may come back into that and give it some more definition later on. This is not my liner brush. This is still a thicker brush that I had since the number two around. Notice how far I'm skipping between these lives. When I first started did a birch tree. If this was my birch, all I did when I was doing these lines, I was doing this senator of horse. But just to give you the house, how static this waas And it was awful. I hated what I did. So obviously, be careful not to do that. I'm much better. I still tend to do that. So I'm better off to skip around and start reading light. And then, um, as I go, I add more. I add more lines if I feel I need them a little bit of a some kind of a little bit of damage there or that was a tree trunk here. Once upon a time, don't you get it? And I tend to soften them a little bit, so it looks more natural that they're there. You just kind of play something. If you see a shape in here and say, Well, let me just play with what I see there that's that's so lovely. If you don't let everything dry up, if you don't paint everything totally evenly because she start seeing shapes and things where you can say, Oh, that's not very nice is to add to that. Okay, I got a lot down here. I don't have much up there, so let's skip up above a little bit. This is painting and reverse, which sometimes it's good because it locks you out of the it has to look like this idea. Other terms. I just want to soften that a little bit. Okay, good. I think it's a little too dark of my eye. Goes only there. Not sure. Just one my eye to go there. I might lift it out. I used to ask my Children when I came home from art class. What's the first thing you see? And if the first thing they saw was not where I wanted my emphasis to be, I knew I had not been careful enough with blending my having my lightest on my darker colors. Meat you're. I will naturally go to where the lightest color is, which is usually your pure white and where your darkest colors are. And if that's where as an artist you wanted the emphasis to be, that's where your color should be, the lightest darker. So for me, it's probably gonna be this tree trunk. I think it's dramatic to see the trunks with all the dark in it. Um, so if my kids would say, Oh, I see the tree there and the branch coming out, I'd say, Well, that's okay with me. Are you know, CIA, Berkshire? If they said I only see purple and orange blobs. I also know I did something not quite right, very often heard. Not want to get better once, Mom. So the girls keep you humble, which is It's nice, and Children do that for you. We always always learn more from what we do, so it's good to be kept humble. That's good to have feedback from all of you. It's good to make mistakes because it keeps you. It keeps experimenting. I want to give a little bit more definition to this sunny side of this tree. But again it is against the white page. Okay, so at this point, this is a little heavy here for the rest of the tree. Softened that into a little bit more. Never give a small line. And just like that, drive for a little bit. If after a few days you decide that you need some more definition, you can easily let's go back into it and give it some definition. At this point, we just let this dry a little bit, and I'm gonna put some tiny lines in with my liner brush. I've used the number to brush for some of these bigger spaces in the tree. Some of these they almost look like a little mountain with a little smiley face under it. But then you kind of soften so you don't just draw mountains of smiling faces. The's smaller lions that awarded state are definitely done in the dark. The agree that you mixed with some blue, and we're gonna pull some of those and being careful not to over overdo the pattern. You can feel your bottom of your paper if it's cold, it means there's still water in it. Um, so when I put this there for a minute, but maybe I could start in section where it's dry. Obviously, the color of your line will run. If you're not totally dry at this point, you don't want anything running. All right, let's try and see what happens. You use a toothpick for these 20. The lions we load your brush of the colors are similar. I have a slight downward. Her also can be careful that it isn't just two lines all the time that you vary what you're doing. This one is a little wet, so it's running a bit. That's okay. I just left that often come back to that later. Good idea, Victoria. Paper around. This is still working here, too. So soften that into a softer line and maybe left that off a little bit. I'm not sure I want that there right now. It's okay if some lines air unfocused and some are focused. It's the focused ones that really give this the life. That's what people want. Always do that first, but you have to be patient and wait till the very end to do that. Make these carry. You probably could use a fine line Sharpie if you wanted to. I usually don't, but you certainly want to try that trouble with. That is, if you don't like it, it's permanent, and it's gonna be hard to lift all. You can't lift it off. That's very why. Don't do it. Getting a few getting a few too many. I have to be careful. I don't go much more in there. Interesting little spot there. I could make that look like a little hole in the tree. That's fun. All right, good ideas. Take your painting and look at it in a mirror. You see it in reverse. We also see a lot of designs here. I immediately goes to spot. He'll say, Gee, what is that? Um, and it's not what you want. Then you need to get turn it right side up and say, OK, that's that's changed because I don't like the way that carries in reverse. It's a wonderful tool to look at your work in the mirror. One of the best teaching tools. It's certainly still carries as a tree. You can see where the sunlight is coming from. I think we put a mat around this. We would be happy with this. You could add a few more lines. If you like to, You can keep it. A simple Is this when this is completely drying, when erase those few pencil lines I never used? You can run the eraser gently around the outsides. Not now. This is still wet, and you might still want to darken some of these lines. When this first layer is completely wet, it's completely dry, and that should complete your basic birch tree trunk. Thank you very much. 5. Closing Remarks and Thank You!: you did it. You did a wonderful birds drunk. I hope you learned a lot I hope you had fun on. I hope you it created lots of ideas for you to try one of your own in a different setting. I'm proud of you for not tearing in half halfway through. Please remember that the paint works magic overnight. It pulls into the paper. It changes a consistency. So sometimes, if you're not thrilled with your painting, don't tear it in half. Don't give up. Every painter experiences an ugly stage of their painting when they're going through it, and it's really important. Do it. Just put up your work. Put it on the mantel somewhere, Put it in your kitchen someplace where it will surprise you. And when you come in the next morning, you'll say, Oh, that isn't as bad as I thought. That's pretty good. Actually, yes, it issue did a wonderful job. So keep going with it. Takes some distance if you need it. And I hope you share your work with me. I'm very excited to see it, and I hope you would have been happy with your success. Thank you so much until next time