Simple Watercolor Aspen Trees | Kolbie Blume | Skillshare

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Simple Watercolor Aspen Trees

teacher avatar Kolbie Blume, Artist

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

    • 1.



    • 2.



    • 3.

      Watercolor Techniques


    • 4.

      Outlining the Trunk


    • 5.

      Shading the Trunk


    • 6.

      Painting the Bark: Part 1


    • 7.

      Painting the Bark: Part 2


    • 8.

      Final Project: Sketch the Forest


    • 9.

      Final Project: Background Trees


    • 10.

      Final Project: Foreground Trees


    • 11.

      Final Project: Abstract Autumn Background


    • 12.



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About This Class

Are you dreaming of autumn in the mountains? Always wanted to learn watercolor techniques but too scared to try? This simple watercolor class is perfect for artists of all levels! 

Join me as I take you through my step-by-step process to creating simple but stunning watercolor aspen trees! I'll take you through the painting techniques to successfully create one tree, and then for the final project, we'll work together to make an autumn forest, perfect for hanging in your home to bring the magic of an autumn forest all year long. 

Meet Your Teacher

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Kolbie Blume


Top Teacher



If you're pretty sure you're terrible at art...'re in the right place, my friend. 



Hi there! My name is Kolbie, and I'm a full-time artist, writer, and online educator -- but up until a few years ago, I was working a 9-5 desk job and thought my artistic ability maxed out at poorly-drawn stick figures. 

In my early 20s, I stumbled on mesmerizing Instagram videos with luminous watercolor paintings and flourishing calligraphy pieces, and ... See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Intro: Hi, my name is Colby and I love to paint using watercolor, but more than I love to paint using watercolor, I love to teach other people simple techniques for them to create beautiful watercolor landscape, landscape elements and sometimes even full landscape paintings. I fully believe with my whole heart that you don't have to have this big background in art in order to create beautiful things. I know from experience because I was not classically trained in art and I just discovered this talent a few years ago and have since loved it and become a firm believer that anybody can do this. In today's class, we are going to learn how to paint beautiful aspen trees, like this one. I'm going to go step-by-step through all of the processes that I have honed and explored throughout my watercolor journey so that it is so easy and simple for you to paint something like this or something like this. Then by the end, our final project is going to be a watercolor aspen tree forest that includes depth and multiple trees and a fun autumn background. If you are ready to get started and join this class and learn how to paint aspen trees, then tune in to the next video because that's where we gather all the materials. I just can't wait. See you soon. 2. Materials: Welcome to the materials [NOISE] section of this class on painting watercolor, aspen trees. Before we get started in the actual painting, I just want to go over the materials that I need and also I think you'll need to excel in this class. First, I don't want to say any of them are most important because I think it's important to have all quality materials. But I think one of the most important [NOISE] materials in any watercolor course, especially landscape, is your paintbrush. For this class, I would recommend getting a size six round watercolor paintbrush. Let's just see if I can show you this a little bit better. Yeah, so a six round watercolor paint brush. This is Princeton, one of my favorite brands. Princeton and it's the Heritage Series you can know by the red handle. I would recommend getting a size six and a size zero for detail work, we're going to need both of these. Those were the paint brushes. Next most important I think is probably the paper. Not all papers are created equal as I've talked about in lots of my other classes. But we also know that it's not always feasible for beginners and people learning to have professional watercolor paper on hand all the time. That said, I would recommend, if you do have access to professional watercolor paper, my favorites are Arches and Blick Premier Block. Both, you need at least a 140 pounds, which means that when you have 500 sheets, it weighs a 140 pounds in case you're wondering what? If you always wondered what that meant. Oftentimes these prices are pretty comparable. Sometimes Arches are a little bit more expensive. Blick, you can only buy them at Blick Art supply, they often have pretty good deals on them. But I've found them to be pretty comparable and I really enjoyed working with both of them. For the project, the last video, at the end of this class, I'm going to be using my Blick Premier Block, but Ib also used Arches in the past. If you don't have access to professional watercolor paper though, I would recommend for a landscape painting like we are doing. Either getting Strathmore student grade paper or this Canson Aquarelle paper. You've may have also heard me talk about Canson XL, and that's student grade. I love Canson XL for lettering. But for watercolor landscape, this little notebook I got for $5 on Amazon, has 20 sheets. Has a little bit more tooth than Canson XL does, which makes it a little better for landscape painting in my experience. [NOISE] For today, I'm going to be using both Canson and Blick. Just so you know, and I'll let you know when that happens. Next, paint. Now, I have talked about the benefits in other classes of professional, using professional grade watercolor paint and I'm going to say it again. When you use professional watercolor paint, the pigments are more pure, which means your colors are brighter and when you mix them together, they're not quite as many. Now, there are lots of professional watercolor paints out there, and just because something says artists grade doesn't mean it's just as good as every artist grade paint out there. I've used lots of different kinds when we've done these classes. Today, I'm going to talk about [inaudible] watercolor paint. I bought these on Amazon. They came in a big set of 27 or 28, or something of these paints and I really liked them a lot. For this class, you need either a Black paint or dark, dark brown like sepia paint. Those are for the aspen trees. Typically, I feel like aspen trees, probably you would go with Black, but I've also done them with dark, dark brown. Because sometimes I think Black in nature actually is dark, dark brown. You can choose whichever you want. Black or sepia or burnt umber is another paint color. Then for our final project background, we're going to be using four colors. Whatever that means to you, I just grabbed the whole bunch of colors that remind me of four. Those are all the most important things. But briefly, I would grab a pencil and eraser because I just think those are always important to have. I like to have a few Q-tips to control my water. Sometimes I like to have an empty pallet just in case I don't want to use these paints as a palette, but I also like to put like little droplets of water and just make a well inside the the paint so it's up to you. Then as always, two cups of water. One that's going to stay clean, one that's going to stay dirty, and a paper towel. As you can see mine is well used. I usually use the same paper towel for a few weeks. Then if you want, you can grab some lettering tool. There's going to be an option to make perhaps "letter", after we have done our project. I think that about sums it up for materials. Why don't you gather everything you need and head back here to watch the first painting video. All right, let's go. 3. Watercolor Techniques: In this video, we're going to talk about one of the most important techniques, I think, for painting watercolor aspen trees. It will serve as crucial foundational knowledge before we go onto the next video, which is beginning to actually paint the aspen tree. So we're going to be talking about water methods. What I mean by water methods is ways to use water on paint and your paint brush to paint with watercolor. You may have already heard about these methods, but we're just going to go over them and I'm going to demonstrate them right now. The first method that we're going to talk about is wet on wet. What that means is I'm going to load my brush with water and make my paper wet before I start painting. Watercolor paint is already wet when it starts. That's what the first wet means is that you have wet paint to use, which is why both of these methods start with wet paint. But wet on wet means that you're using wet paint to color a wet piece of paper. I'm going to load up this brush with paint and just see how wet on wet the paint blooms out because it's touching water in addition to paper. So the water naturally makes it go in whatever direction it makes it go. Honestly, I think that's why watercolor is such a fun medium because, I mean, there are definitely ways for you to learn how to control it. But it also just does its own thing and you can get beautiful, natural looking paintings. So it's a combination of you utilizing control and watercolor just creating its own beauty and chaos. Anyway, that's my little spiel on why I love watercolor so much. That is also a demonstration of the wet-on-wet technique. So wet on dry, as you might imagine, is when, and for this I'm going to use this paintbrush, is when I load my paint brush up with paint. But the paper is not wet so the lines are more defined. The paint doesn't go anywhere except where the paintbrush, which is already wet, makes it wet. So within this stroke, you can see it blooming out like I did up here, but only where my paintbrush touched the paper. Everywhere else it has defined lines. If you have a really good paintbrush like The Princeton Heritage Series that I recommended, see this number 6, even though I can get really wide strokes with it, I can also use the tip to paint really tiny lines. Wet-on-dry just means you're making a defined shape with your paintbrush. So why don't you, if you haven't been already, give both of these techniques to try and just play a little bit, play with color, experiment. I always think this is one of the funnest parts of doing watercolors, just experimenting. Honestly, experimenting is how I developed the techniques that I did for these landscapes that I teach you on Skillshare. Have fun. We're going to use both of these techniques as we learn how to paint an aspen tree in the next videos. So why don't you get to it and see you soon. 4. Outlining the Trunk: We've made it through materials. We've made it through the different methods of using water and wetness within watercolor. Now, we're going to jump in to the steps to painting an aspen tree. Like I mentioned in the materials section, I'm going to be using both my Blick Premier watercolor block and this trustee Canson Aquarelle watercolor sketch book. I'm going to be using this sketchbook, which is slightly less quality paper, though it's still good paper while we practice the aspen trees. Then when we go into our final project mode, that's when I'm going to bust out my Blick Premier block. I feel like that's always a good method to have both professional watercolor paper and still good water colored paper or student grade, but that's definitely less expensive to use for practice versus final product. Step 1 in painting an aspen tree is so simple. First, grab your paint. I'm using black. You can use brown or black or honestly whatever color you want. That's the other cool thing about art is you can do whatever the heck you feel like. I'm just going to put some water into my black pen. I mentioned that I often just like to use the pens as a palette, but I will say that I'm using my size 6 brush here because I'm going to use the very tip. But sometimes to make sure that the very tip actually gives me a thin line, I like to take a pallet and just paint a little bit on it. That takes off some of the big heavier water droplets, but leaves enough paint so that I can still do what I want. Step 1 in painting an aspen tree is to outline it. We're going to take the thin line of our paintbrush and we're going to draw one line this way. Remember that we're going to make this one thicker, but in our final one, we're going to make them smaller, like what they actually look like. But this is going to be an up-close view of what an aspen tree looks like. We're going to be outlining like that. I'm also just going to paint a little branch up here. If you're thinking like, oh, what if my lines aren't straight? Dude, trees do not have straight lines. I'm painting a branch up there. I'm painting a little knob right here. That's step 1. That's it. Go on to the next video to find out what's after step 1. It's going to blow your mind. See you soon. 5. Shading the Trunk: You've drawn the outline of your tree, the next step is to utilize the paint in the outline to shade your tree. It's really important to try to do this while the paint is still wet. Does that makes sense? Because if it's dry, it's fine paint, watercolor paint, you can rehydrate and it just doesn't always work the same and sometimes you get dry lines. I'm taking my number 6 watercolor brush. As you can see and I'm just dipping it in the water and then moving the water up to my line of paint so that I still have a little bit of a line for the outline so that, that still exists. But I'm using the water to push the pigment to go farther so that it's lighter. Because as you all know, aspen trees have like basically white bark. But, in nature, nothing is just one color. It's always a little bit something else. By shading, we also create around an effect of the tree without having to do anything else more complicated to make it look like it's a little bit more realistic and not just in 2D. Which is the other cool thing about watercolor, just the way that it naturally shades things to make them look slightly more realistic. As you can see, I'm just dipping my brush in the watercolor in the water. It looks like I had a pool of water up there, so I'm bringing it down here. I'm just barely touching my brush to the edges so that the color blooms out. If it doesn't bloom up by itself, I'm going to make it bloom out. Because my paper is starting to buckle just a little bit. I often get lots of questions of how do you make sure your paper doesn't buckle? Well, there are methods, but mostly the paper's going to buckle unless you stretch it out a lot. I'm also going to do this method up here. If you're smart enough to draw the knob without that line in the middle, at first, you won't have to get rid of it. But since I wasn't this time around, I'm just very patiently pushing this pigment out so that it's thinner up here and so that it looks like the knob is along with the tree. Same exact thing for this branch that we did up here. Same thing. If I rub enough, I can mostly get rid of this line mostly. With our paint later on when we actually do more things with aspen tree, that will probably, it'll be shaded in. You won't be able to see it camouflaged. [NOISE] This is an interesting development. It looks like here, I wasn't quite able to get rid of that bulky line. I also wasn't quite able to maintain the line outlining this branch. I'm taking just a little bit of paint, a tiny bit of paint, and going over the waterline again. Just the tiniest bit and then pushing it out so that it looks like more of a natural outline, right here. That is step 2. Now, we are in the next video prepared to use one of the water techniques that we learned about in the other video. Are you ready? Watch the next video. 6. Painting the Bark: Part 1: Welcome to the video in which we put the wet on wet technique into practice. Like I just said, we're going to be utilizing the wet on wet technique. You should look at your paper right now, your beginnings of your aspen tree trunk to see if it's still wet. If it's not, then just dip your paintbrush in some water and re-wet this little guy. Because the next step to making an aspen tree look like an aspen tree requires this method. Mostly, it looks like mine is wet again. For what we're doing here, you can either continue using the size 6 brush and just use the tip, or you can bust out your size 0 brush like I'm doing right now. Whatever one works best for you is totally fine, and you're going to dip it in some black paint. Over here, like I did before, I don't want tons like globs of it, so I'm utilizing my palette to breed some a bit of it. You're going to draw some lines with this black paint and just watch as the watercolor does its thing. Now, I'm going to say that not all wet on wet environments are created equal. The more water you have, the more it's going to bloom out. You'll see up here, there's more water up here, so it bloomed out a little bit more. It's a little bit dry right there. Anyway, basically we're just going to create some natural lines using this wet on wet technique. Because aspen trees, if you look at them, almost look like they have openings or burns in the bark, which I think makes him look so pretty. But they're not always super defined and straight lines. We know that in watercolor, the way to knock a straight lines and to have things bloom out is to use the wet-on-wet technique, that's what we're doing. You don't want to go too overboard. Some aspen trees, I feel like have more of these than others, but just be aware of that. It doesn't have to look necessarily equal. My knob got a little bit dry and that's okay. If you're going to paint and you expect it to be wet, you can totally just re-wet it, and that looks fine. I'm re-wetting it because I was expecting wet-on-wet, but then the knob was dry. I'm just re-wetting it a little bit, taking a little bit of paint because I want just a little bit right there. For this tree, that is what we're going to do for the wet-on-wet technique. Honestly, I didn't have like a rhyme or reason. I know that nature sometimes has patterns and sometimes it just is the way that it is. I just put down the paint wherever I felt like it was going to work the best. Honestly, that meant I just put it down randomly. Then after I was done, I was like maybe there's a space up here that I could fill up but I don't necessarily want it to look even. It's just a fun experiment for you to try. You can exactly copy me with this video as we're learning how to paint aspen trees. Or you can do your own experiments and figure out which random way to paint these aspen trees works for you. Or you can pull up a picture of an aspen tree and try to mimic the picture. I've done all three. But that is the step we're working on now. Stay tuned for the next step. You might want to either wait for your paper to dry or get a handy dry or like I often use to dry it quickly. That's my clue with what the next step is. Happy painting, see you soon. 7. Painting the Bark: Part 2: Welcome to the wet-on-dry technique video. In order for us to fully utilize the wet-on-dry technique, we're going to have to have a dry paper. Like I said in the other video, you can either wait for your paper to dry on its own or you can take out one of these driers that I often use. It says, Darice Heat Tool. It's typically used for embossing, but I most often use it to dry my watercolors. I'm going to keep talking, hopefully, this sound won't be too annoying. Oh my gosh, my heat tool is not plugged in. Real-life. Here we go. [NOISE] I'm just going to really quickly dry this. Honestly, you shouldn't have to dry it too much unless you just absolutely loaded your paper with water and it's refusing to dry. [NOISE] But often when I paint aspen trees, I don't even have to use my heat tool. The paint and water just dry really quickly on their own. It's up to you. Use it on a case-by-case basis. But I like to try the front and the back because watercolor paper is so good because it's so [inaudible] The water can seep into the back. That is dry enough for me. Now, again, you can either use the size 6 paintbrush and just use the tip or you can use your size 0, which is what I'm going to do here. As indicated, this is the wet-on-dry technique, and I still have some paint leftover here in my palette. I'm going to load up my brush. You really don't need that much pigment in order to use a size 0 brush especially. I'm going to load up my brush and I'm going to draw some lines just across like this. Again, this is totally random. I'm trailing off. I don't have a plan. I'm just painting wherever I feel like. It's in nature, so the line shouldn't always be straight. But aspen trees have both the cracks, like the big blending in cracks and sometimes straight lines like this, and sometimes like up here, I'm using a straight line and then putting a little more pressure so that it just creates some of these natural differences and variations. That one maybe wasn't so good, but this is what it is. Maybe I'll just turn this into a wall. That's something else with the wet-on-dry technique. Sometimes trees have little walls in them. We're just going to create a little wall right there. I'm just using my tiny brush to make circles. [LAUGHTER] Really, just like paint in a circle stroke. Maybe I don't need that much. It is looking like a rose, but I think that looks pretty good. Now I'm going to do these lines up here in the same direction as where the branch is going. Honestly, sometimes painting and chaos like this with no order takes practice to feel like it actually looks fine and not fine. But I love painting aspen trees because I feel like there really is no right or wrong from where you put the things. You can put even more black lines if you want, or you can put less and make it look more sparse. But that's it. This is how you paint a simple aspen tree. I was shocked when I was experimenting and I was like, "Can it really be this easy?" Yes, it can. There's your aspen tree. Before you go onto your final project, if you want to try experimenting more and painting more aspen trees like this, go for it. But in the next couple of videos, we're going to go step-by-step through how to take these techniques to paint an aspen tree and turn it into a lovely, simple autumn scene. Because I'm all about simple techniques that make painting stunning landscapes easy and fulfilling. These are the steps to aspen tree, practice, and then when you're ready, go on to the next video. If you're ready now, that's totally fine. Go on to the next video and we are going to paint our aspen tree forest. Let's go. 8. Final Project: Sketch the Forest: Welcome back. Whether you decide to take some time to practice your Aspen trees or you just barreled right on through because you just want to attack this challenge and totally succeed, that is great. Here are all of the rest of the materials that we're going to use to paint this scene and they're honestly just most of the materials that you haven't seen yet. Here's my black paint that we've used before, and then my autumn color paints, which we're going to use to make a beautiful autumn colored background, and my trustee pencil and eraser, because a lot of good watercolor landscape painting start with some pencil sketches and then I have my palette on the side if in case I want to use it. [NOISE] First step to painting your final project is sketching out how you want your trees to look. One thing to remember, and we've talked about this in the misty forest class and in the night sky class. If you've taken those classes, one thing to remember is that the bigger something is, the more it looks like it's closer. If you want to create depth in a forest, that means you need to make big trees and smaller trees. [NOISE] Here's what I'm going to do. Aspen trees are also pretty skinny often. I'm going to make one big focal point, and this is my blick watercolor block, see how it's taped together. This is my blick watercolor block. I don't even need to tape it to the table because it's taped to the other papers in the block. I'm going to draw one of my trunks and lightly because while pencil often erases with watercolors, sometimes it doesn't erase quite as much as you want it to, so just lightly draw in pencil and that's one of my trunks. I'm going to make this trunk have a tree or have a branch similar to the one that we did before. We're just going to make this tree very similar to the tree that we drew in practice. [NOISE] This is going to be the biggest, closest tree. Maybe, I'll just draw a little something like that too. Now, I'm going to draw trees that are still big, but not as much. That one is just a little smaller and I'm going to need to make the branches smaller too. Just remember, if your trees don't look perfect, again, nature is not perfect. Sometimes it might take some practice, like drawing the branches, and feel like maybe that branch isn't exactly the way that I wanted it. Now it's totally fine. That's why you have an eraser. I'm going to draw this branch like that and it's going to go behind this tree to go up here, I guess. Maybe a little bit like that. This tree is further away. Maybe I'm going to draw one more that's fairly close. Not as close as that huge one, but fairly close. This one's going to have a little knob, actually right here, and branches that go like that and just veer up like that. I'm not going to have a branch right there. Don't mind me as I'm talking to myself. [LAUGHTER] This is how I teach classes. I'm just meandering my way through. Those are my three trees that I'm doing for the main foreground. Now, it's also important to do, like we said, some smaller trees in the background. That's one of my background trees. That's one of my background. I'm just doing some branches here and maybe these branches should be even skinnier than I made them. Don't worry. This will all be great when we finish this. I'm drawing another tree that is skinny, which means it's further away. We won't need to necessarily worry about the branches up here because a lot of the background for the autumn leaves are going to be back there. I'm still going to just draw some branches. I have [NOISE] a tree right here and a tree right here and I'm going to draw just a really tiny tree back here. These branches could even just be like tiny little sticks. I have a tree, let's count our trees, 1,2,3,4,5,6. I like to have an odd number of things. I'm going to draw just one more tree right here. It's almost right behind this tree. Now, again, your lines do not have to be straight. Trees often aren't as straight as they seem. That's just something you keep in mind. I have a tree here, in case you can't see. I know that these pencil lines are super light. You might not be able to see where I'm drawing. Hopefully, you've been following along visually and listening to my voice. But, I have a big tree right here and I have a big tree, oh, man, it's even sometimes hard for me to see exactly where they are. Right here because this is empty space. A big tree right here with a smaller tree right here and here, and here and here. Then, this is my other big tree. Just make sure to get them straight. Maybe you draw a little numbers down at the bottom that shows where your trees are [LAUGHTER] so that you can remember. Then, you're going to erase them.1,2,3,4,5,6,7. That is just for reference for you as you are continuing on this landscape journey. That's the first step onto the next step, which is painting the trees. Let's go. 9. Final Project: Background Trees: We've sketched out our forest and now it's time to paint the trees. The most important part about any landscape painting is utilizing layers. The first layer that we're going to paint right now is going to be the skinnier trees because I usually like to go back to front though we're going to do the real background probably last. We're going to go back to front. I'm going to paint the skinny trees first. I'm going to load up my brush. I'm going to use size 0 brush to do our first step in painting trees, which is given a minute. I'm giving you minute to remember what the first step is, is to paint the outline. I have my black paint, and I'm going to use just a little bit more on here. I'm putting more paint onto my palette because some of it had dried from when I used it before on my palette. I want it to be wet so that when I go through, and shade it, it still blends. With skinnier trees, you have to remember that you will need less pigment than with the other trees because the pigment doesn't have as many places to go. This is a lot skinnier than the first tree that we painted. I might even be putting too much pigment on, but we'll see. Maybe the trick is I'm not going to use my size 6 brush. It's just going to go like that. I'm not going to use my size 6 brush to shade it. I'm going to keep using this one. Without skipping a beat, and it's already started to dry a little, I'm going to shade this. It's okay if you go outside the lines a little bit. I'm not picking up any more pigment when my brush leaves the paper, I'm only getting water to spread the pigment, and spreading it. I just spread it like this. Because this looks pretty gray, not quite the white that we were wanting. But here's what I'm going to say about that. These are in the background and so they don't need to be quite as defined as the trees in the foreground. Here's another thing too about professional watercolor paper is that sometimes the pigment dries faster and stays on the paper better than it does on student grade watercolor paper, which have its benefits, and its downsides. This looks pretty great to me. I'm going to just take my Q-tip and now that I have mixed in some of the pigment, I'm going to pick it up again so that I can see paper. Then after I've done that, blend it together. I was telling my brother-in-law this the other day. That honestly, a lot of art is looking at the mistakes you've made, and being like, "Well, it doesn't look quite like I was hoping it would, " [LAUGHTER] and figuring out a way to make it look like it wasn't a mistake that you actually meant to do that the whole time. There's my little trade secret that I'm giving you. The most important thing is to make sure that these lines just aren't as defined as they were before and that we get a little bit of pigment on the trunk. But we don't want tons so I'm just tapping my Q-tip on my paper again to pick up some of this pigment so that it doesn't look quite as just stark gray as it did before. Next step is to re-wet it with clean water. Not too much. You don't want it to pool, you want it to be damp. We're re-wetting it with clean water. We're not going to be, necessarily as detailed on again, these background trees as we are on the foreground trees. Keep that in mind. On the next tree I think I'm going to use less pigment. We've got our background and we've got it wet. Now I'm picking up some pigments so I can do this wet-on-wet technique. Remember? I'm just barely tapping. I'm barely tapping because we have so little real estate to work with here with these tiny trees that if you push down too much, you're going to just make the whole thing black so I'm just barely tapping. [NOISE] For these background trees, that's where I'm going to stop. I'm not going to do more defined lines for the background trees because they should look a little blurry. I'm going to keep working on these trees. Maybe I'll paint one more with you, and then I'll paint the others not on this video so that you can paint them yourself, and not have to constantly listen to my voice because otherwise this video would be 20 minutes long. I'm going to try to learn from my mistakes from last time, and paint this little tree right here. Here's what I'm going to say. Since we notice that it dried really fast last time, maybe instead of painting the whole trunk, I'm going to paint part of the trunk, and push it out right now. l think that works pretty well. I'm not even going to put pigment on the other side. I'm just going to keep pushing out this pigment right here. Because remember this is a tiny tree that's in the very back so it's okay if it doesn't look quite as defined as the other trees, because this is probably the smallest tree. I'm going to paint pigment, and then I'm going to use my water to push it out, and bring it to the other side of the trunk. That is also what art is about, is looking at what you do, and what methods work, and how to twist the methods that you use and that you know to make them work even better for next time, for specific scenarios because not every technique is going to be exactly perfect for every scenario. I hope that these classes teach you more than anything that artists can learn the rules and they should learn rules and know that art is that creativity does have some structure to it and it should. But that what's so cool about creativity in life and in art is that when you learn the rules, you also learn when you need to bend them a little, and break them in order to come up with the best techniques that are available to you. That's what I'm going to say about that. Oh, I don't want to do that. I'm probably going to pick up some of that. Well, it looks cool I guess. Just like a big burnt part. [LAUGHTER] Burnt is not the right word, but that's what it reminds me of. But I'm going to pick up some of that with my Q-tip in just a second. Some of this water right here and pigment, I'm going to pick up. I actually like how that looks. I don't know if it's necessarily accurate, but who cares? Not me. Some people might, but I'm not painting birch. Aspen and birch trees looks really similar. I'm not painting aspen trees so that they can look exactly right. Next part, final part is to re-wet this lovely tree so that we can do some wet on wet action. A little drop there. Good. It is now re-wet. I'm going to pick up just the tiniest bit of pigment. See I put a little bit too much down here, it's better up here, so that it blooms in a really random way. I picked up some of that water with my Q-tip. Because we still want with the wet-on-wet technique with this, we still want it to look, oh, so much. That's okay. We still want it to look like it's a line as much as we can. It's really hard. There we go. I'm just using my Q-tip to make that happen. It can be hard when you feel like your paint brush isn't doing the job quite as well as you want it to. Here we go. I'm getting some lines. Up here, maybe just barely press down, get more pigment, but make sure to take most of it off. Then those bloomed out more than I wanted to so I am going to get my Q-tip, and pick them up a little bit more. [NOISE] It looks about right. For this tiny tree, I'm going to draw in some branches. Because it's so far in the distance, they don't need to be big trunks. Right, Colby. [LAUGHTER] [NOISE] I'm going to finish painting these background trees, and you should do the same. Maybe listen to some music while you paint, and then when you're done with these fore background trees, so we have this tiny tree, this tiny tree, and these two tiny trees then come back to the next video, and we're going to paint the bigger trees. Great. Sounds awesome. See you soon. 10. Final Project: Foreground Trees: As you can see, I went ahead and I did the same thing that I did with these for these two trees, which are our four background trees. Just to recap in case you haven't watched that video or it's been a while or you're interested, we discovered, as we did this background tree, that the technique for bigger trees doesn't always work quite as well for smaller trees. Meaning when we painted the trunks of the background first and then tried to shade it out, we found out that it could be a combination of being on professional watercolor paper because this is my Blick Premier Artists Watercolor Paper Block, a combination of that and just not as much real estate. The paint dried faster and so it left these lines more often than in our other tree. There's not as much real estate here. We had to go back with our Q-tip and I did it a lot. As you can see, my Q-tip is very dirty now I did on all of these trees, I had to go back with my Q-tip and pick up the pigment that I didn't want because we don't want aspen trees to be black or super dark gray. They are super light gray or white with in contrast the black. With this next tree, we decided to take a slightly different approach. We did the trunk of the tree a little bit at a time. So we put some black paint to outline just right here. Then we got rid of our paint and loaded our brush with water and just brought the pigment out that way. We didn't even put pigment on this side of the trunk, only on this side. That seemed to work a lot better. I still had to use my Q-tip to pick up some of the pigment on the water but for these background trees, since we don't need them in the background, something is usually more blurry and smaller. We don't need them to be quite as defined as our foreground trees. We only did the wet on wet technique. You can only see how we have some blurry spots of black. For this tree since it's the smallest I just did some quick branches. Then I used those same techniques to build these trees, the other two trees. Now, since this one you might be like, "What is that white thing?" Since this one is right next to this tree, which I built a branch for right here, I want this tree to be in the foreground and this branch to go in front. That's why I did it that way. Just make sure to pay attention to where your sketches are. There's a lot of lines so you might get them mixed up which is why I wrote these little numbers on the bottom and so faded so that even though I didn't erase them yet, you can't even see them at the bottom. Now that's a quick recap. Now we're going to paint our foreground trees using the techniques that we used before. I'm going to get some black paint. I'm going to dry these super quick because you should definitely have your background trees be dry before you paint your foreground trees. Listen to me and not to the annoying sound of my tool. As I am drying my trees so that I don't accidentally ruin the shape of one of my trees. I think that's good enough. I'm going to go left to right. I'm going to start with this tree. We're going to start at the bottom and do the same techniques that we did before. You can use more pigment and in order to ensure that the pigment doesn't dry while you are painting is to make sure it stays wet. Just because I might be a little nervous that it's going to do the same thing that I did with the other trees. I'm going to go ahead and just start. You might notice that I'm using my small brush again, though, you can definitely use your number 6, the point of your number 6 expression. I might do that for the rest of it. I am going to, just for the sake of consistency, do the same technique that I did for these trees. Now I'm going to switch to my six brush because for these, I think, it might be a little bit better. But on this side, we still want to have this side have its own line of pigment. We might not need to do it to the trunk and parts when we use this brush because it puts down a lot more water. We're just shading right now is the shading portion. We want as much as possible the straight lines on here to disappear. Because in real life trunks don't have outlines. The shading and using the outline right there, was mostly so that we could try to make it look like it has a rounded effect as much as possible. That's right, Colby, I listened to you in your last video. I'm doing this to stop talking to myself. With my sixth brush but remember the trick is, this looks like it has a lot of pigment. You can still see the point, but it has a lot of pigments. I'm going to take my palette. I have this pigment and I'm just going to paint on my palette to get rid of a little bit so I can see the point a little bit better. I'm going to draw, and that's okay if that happens because we're going to do some of that anyway. I'm doing this in steps because we discovered that's the best way to do it on this kind of paper. It might be the best way for you to do it on your other paper. I've used it both ways as you can see, it worked the other way where we just did the trunk. Then we did the shading after we did the whole outline of the trunk, that worked pretty well too. It's just experimenting and figuring out what is going to be the best for what you're doing specifically. You'll probably say, Colby, but you didn't do the outline on this side. That's because I noticed that pigment was going to be there already. Because I was tapping my paintbrush on this part of the paper where this was wet and this was dry. I knew some of the paint was going to bloom out this way and so I'd be able to just shade it in like that. But I want the middle to be a little more light and I want the side to be more shaded. I'm just pushing the pigment to the side like that. Just pushing it to the side. Then I'm going to draw in this little knob. Push to the side. I sing to myself a lot, sorry, it's starting to come out in the videos. I like to make these videos just showing you how I paint. I'm going to re-wet this because when we pushed that to the side, I'm sure this part dried. You can still see the lines where I did dry. That's a little unfortunate but lets see if we can pick up a bunch of it by doing that. I just decided to pick up some of the pigment so that the line wasn't so stark. That looks pretty good for that side. I'm just getting more water and shading it in. We've talked about this in the last video, no technique is foolproof, and it always is going to take some experimenting, and figuring out, and knowing that nothing is ever going to be perfect. But that's what makes art so fun. Especially, that's what makes painting nature so fun because nature is probably the opposite of perfect. It's chaotic and it does its own thing. Trees especially just do their own thing. You never really know what's happening. Because I feel when I'm painting trees is so hard because you try to go too chaotic and then it just ends up looking not realistic. But then if you go too straight and too patterned it doesn't look realistic then either. These are the rambling thoughts that I have when I paint. I'm going to paint this branch, and I am going to pick up some pigment, and go up here. That looks like it's not quite as dark as I might want it to be. That's fine. We're going to go up here and this is the branch that you should be able to see them most. It goes over the top of all these trees. I'm just going to bloom this out, shade this guy like we've been doing, and to be very careful. Once professional watercolor paint dries it is harder to re-wet and make it bloom again, which is good for layers because it means if I accidentally went over one of these trees with my wash of water then I won't necessarily mess it up. But it's also frustrating when you accidentally didn't want it to dry and it did anyway. That's what we're discovering here. But that is step 1. What is step 2? I'm giving you a hint as I'm doing it right now. Wet-on-wet. That's right. That is our next step. I'm sure most of you already knew. Since we've been shading it, I think a bunch of the trunk is still wet, so hopefully we won't need that much. I'm going to continue using this number 6 brush, maybe not. I'm going to put more paint in here on my palette. Maybe I'm going to use my zero brush for this. I'm picking up my zero brush and we're doing the same thing, just some randomized lines. I don't really have a rhyme or reason. Some of them can be bigger than others, some of them can go along with where these dark shades are. Honestly, the coolest part about watercolor, like I've said before is how well you can get shades and shadows and use the values. The value is the lightness or darkness of one specific pigment. That's how you create beautiful, realistic, but also not works of art, especially doing nature by learning how to shade. That looks mostly good to me. I think my branch dried. I'm going to see if I can re-wet that a little bit so I can put a little bit of this wet-on-wet technique on this branch. It's wet. Now, I'm going to, just not a whole lot, I still want it to be a line. See, I've barely put any water and so the lines are a little more defined because that's what we talked about. The next step on this tree and for all the other trees when we get to them is wet on dry. That's right. For all of those who you said wet-on-dry that's exactly right. I'm going to dry this for a little bit. You can wait for it to dry If you want. If you have all day to do paintings like this. I don't always, so I like to use my dryer like I said. But we're almost done with this biggest foreground tree and I am so excited to show you what that is going to look like. I think that's just enough wind. Looks good enough to me. Now, we're going to do the wet-on-dry technique, which is loading my paintbrush up with wet watercolor paint so I can do some more defined lines on the trunk. I'm just doing the same thing that I did when we learned how to paint aspen trees and when we did the wet-on-wet. I don't have a rhyme or reason really. I'm just doing it. Sometimes it's along with where the wet-on-wet was and sometimes it's not. It's just putting lines. They're not always straight, some are bumpy, and I did it on purpose. Sometimes my hand just shakes. Sometimes I put a little bit more pressure like there. Trees are just so beautiful because you can't guess how something is going to, I'm not a botanist, I don't study these things, so maybe you can guess, but what makes nature so beautiful is it's randomness, and how beauty can erupt from that. It's so beautiful because you wouldn't have guessed for it to turn out like that, in my opinion. Then we talked about whorls. First, I'm going to do some lines here and maybe this is where I'll do my whorl. If you didn't watch the video where we did this, a lot of trees have little whorls. It looks big, but it's just drawing half circles in the circle shape so that it's just this little natural thing happening right here, so shape. That tree, done. Next are the other trees. I'm going to leave that to you to paint the other trees. Then we're going to come back and I'm going to paint the other trees too. Then we're going to come back and do our fun autumn background. Are you ready? Great. Keep painting your trees. There should be two more, one right here and one right here if you exactly copied me. The next video is going to be all about the background. I'm so excited. See you soon. 11. Final Project: Abstract Autumn Background: We've made it to the final stage. We've painted all of our trees. You should've taken some time after the last video to paint your last two trees using the same method we used to paint this tree. Now like I promised, we're going to paint a lovely autumn background. Although as you'll see, honestly, [NOISE] even without the background, I think these trees look pretty cool, this work looks pretty cool. But we're going to try to make it look even cooler using the wet-on-wet technique with all of these fun autumn colors that I asked you to pull out. What I'm going to do, is very carefully painting around the trees and doing this spaces at a time. Not necessarily all at once. Sometimes you'll do the background like this first and then leave spaces for the trees but since this is mostly about the aspen trees, I wanted to do the background last. I'm carefully putting down a wash of water. In my mind while I'm doing this because I know I don't want the water to dry, I'm deciding which colors I want to do. Honestly, we're not even really for this first background. Going to make it look super realistic. It's going to be an abstract kind of autumn color thing. Because that's what I think often makes it really cool painting. I'm putting down my wash of water. I put down that first wash of light orange. This whole background is going to be just whatever autumn colors strikes your fancy, and just placing it on the paper like that. Orange, and red, and pink, and yellow. With this technique, you want to have a practice of putting down some dots of paint and then washing off the paint and helping it mix together. Sometimes I like to physically pick up my paper and watch the paint fall and mix together like that. But in this case I am going to manually do it sometimes. That's why it's really important to get quality brushes for times like this, so that I can not have to switch my brush when I'm doing large washes of paint to when I'm needing the very tip of it to go right to the edge. Now I'm going to go more up here. I had this branch disappear on purpose so that it's disappearing into the leaves because this background is a little more abstract. I'm going to pick up some more paint, some more of this color, perhaps and [NOISE] some of this yellow. [NOISE] I'm going to physically, carefully to stay within the confines that I created for myself and mix these together. That is what you do for every part of this painting of the background so wherever there's white. I'm leaving a little white space around to frame the edge of it. But where it's not the gray white of the tree, whereas not the tree, you're going around and turning the background into some fun autumn leaf colors. Even after they've dried, you can put some more dots so that there's layers, so that it looks like leaves here hear and there. That is one section. I'm going to do this tiny section and then I'm going to leave you to keep painting the sections because you have all the tools you need. Then I'll do one video at the end where we recap. Again, just go step-by-step through this process. It's putting down a wash of clean water. It's really important to have two cups of water at your desk so that one of them can be clean and one of them can just be dirty water. I'm doing this section first and then I'll do this little section. Sometimes it's good to put the lighter colors down first because you often can't see them if you put them over the top of the darker colors, but it depends. That's why I'm doing this time. I put down the lighter colors first. It looks like I went a little bit over on this trunk part because I wasn't being careful and that's totally fine. It's all going to look fine in the end, no matter what. It looks like I have a little bit of pooled pigment up here so I'm taking my Q-Tip, and just mopping that up, and mixing these together. There you go. All the sections don't have to look the same because I don't think they should. But as long as they're all fun, colorful, autumn colors, they are going to look great. Tune into the next video to see my finished product, and keep doing your thing to get to your finished product. Make sure when you finished to post your picture in the discussion board and on Instagram, because then I can feature you. All of your classmates and me can give you some love, and tell you how well you did. I think these are going to look so awesome. [NOISE] Tune into the next video to see my finished product and have a recap of the class. Keep going section by section, doing exactly what we did. See you next time. 12. Recap: You did it. You're done. If you are watching this video, hopefully, that means you have gone through all the steps to learn how to paint an aspen tree and you have gone through the videos to paint your very own aspen tree forest and hopefully have come up with a painting that looks a little bit like this, with a beautiful abstract background with late autumn leaves, the autumn, the colors of autumn. I hope you sincerely love and are proud of the work that you have done today during this class. More than anything, my goal with these classes is to show you that you don't have to have dozens of years and years and years of experience in order to create beautiful art. You don't have to have been to art school, though. I'm sure going to art schools is an amazing experience, but you don't have to be an "expert" to know what you're doing and to know that you can create beautiful things and be happy with what you've created. As I've said before, if you follow me or if you watched my introductory video, I don't have a large background in art. I for years thought that I couldn't do it. Actually, I thought I was good at a lot of other creative things. But doing physical art was something that I would never be good at. How silly is that? I'm so happy that a couple of years ago I decided to try hand lettering. That morphed its way into more sophisticated hand-lettering until it got to watercolor. It's brought so much joy into my life and I know that it can bring so much joined to yours too. Hopefully, this class was just a little part of that joyful experience that you've had, doing watercolor and learning art and increasing your talent and your ability to create. Next steps. Post your work, any part of the work that you did in this class on the discussion board, I would love to give you some likes and some comments and if you have any questions, please let me know. Also, I'm on Instagram, my handle is this writing desk. If you post your work on Instagram and tag me, I would love to feature you and to give you some love, and to just tell everyone about how great you're doing. Keep me posted. I hope this is only one small part of your art journey. Maybe that, I can be a part of it in other classes as well. Last thing if you loved this class, please, I would so appreciate it. If you left me a comment and a review, give me a thumbs up. It helps. The more positive reviews I have, the more reviews I have, the more likely other people can find my class, and find just as much happiness from it as you have. That's it for now. I hope you had a great time and see you next time.