Painting Trees in Watercolour

Painting Trees in Watercolour

Today we are in the Holywood
hills high above Belfast Lots of nice tree
subjects around Still a little cold to paint outside
but I’ll take some photographs And bring them back to the studio Redburn Park was the family home
of the Dunville Whiskey family At the time they owned the biggest
whiskey distillery in the world They built a 70 room mansion here in 1866 But hardly any trace of it remains This is the photograph I
will use to paint from It has a good strong foreground tree with
a good group of background trees behind That will help with
creating a sense of depth For this method, you need a paper
that will allow you to lift paint I’m using Bockingford Other papers such as Arches
are harder to lift from I’m using Phthalo Blue with
Cobalt blue for the sky I use long strokes from left to right Make sure your brush holds enough
paint to make a full stroke This brush is too small so
I’ll change to a large mop Same mix, And simply continue down the paper When you come to the position
of the distant trees Add a little Alizarin Crimson to the mix I’m painting over the foreground tree.
This will be lifted out later For this first wash I simply want
and interesting array of colour Vary the colour. Add any colour you like I’ll add some Aureolin with Ultramarine. this
will give a good green for the foreground Continue to paint down the paper.
Don’t leave any gaps Because the wash is soft with no edges Essentially I’m not actually
painting anything specific Only when you have a hard edge do you
actually specify an object or shape Some burnt sienna helps to
suggest the dried bracken A little more of the green
mix finishes the first wash When you reach the bottom
of the paper, stop. Don’t be tempted to go back
up or to change things. The first wash has now dried Now I’ll add some extra strength
for the background trees Use the same Phthalo/Alizarin Crimson mix Use the side of the brush
to give a dragged edge This is a good way to suggest
the broken edge of the trees The brush should be parallel to the paper Make sure you vary the outline
of the trees up and down Change the mix slightly as
you work down the trees Varying the colour will
make it more interesting Strengthen the tone as you work
towards the bottom of the trees I’ll finish off with a dark mix
of Ultramarine and Burnt Sienna Aim to get light, medium and dark
tone in all parts of your picture I am now going to use a swordliner brush This has a very fine point and is
excellent for twigs and branches Use the same dark mix of
Ultramarine and Burnt Sienna and paint into the damp background wash [music] Time now to add some
variation to the foreground The mix is Aureolin and Ultramarine Use rough simple strokes Use the side of the brush again
to get a “rough grass” look Don’t be tempted to get too complicated
– trees are the main subject, not grass Again, vary the colour for interest Burnt Sienna helps to suggest the bracken. Now the background has dried I can start on the main tree There are many ways to paint
trees and this method works well Start with a very dark mix
for the trunk and branches I will then lift out the light
side of the trunk and branches The light side is the right hand side [music] Where the paint has lifted off
the paper can be quite white It is good to stain this damp
white area with some warm colour Raw sienna or burnt sienna works well Back to the swordliner
for the side branches Allow the swordliner to
skip over the paper surface These are very dark marks but parts
can be lifted out for variety Don’t paint too many side branches.
Too many will look cluttered [music] Back to the lifting out brush Rinse it often and squeeze it dry As you lift paint you will dirty the brush Squeezing the brush avoids
depositing water as you lift. It also gives a good
edge for lifting [music] Continue to vary the colour and tone As we approach the end of the painting It is time to add little dark accents Adding darks will make the lights
appear lighter (and vice versa) Adding dark effectively adds light Mixing some stronger green now I’m using viridian which
is a hideous green colour But burnt sienna calms it
down to a lovely rich green I’m using this for some darker details Here I’m using my finger to
roughen the edge of the stroke This gives a similar but more
controllable effect to dry brush It works well It does however make
your fingers very dirty! I have gone for some purple
grey to suggest shadow Again I’m using my finger
to soften the edge Back to the background trees I’m lifting out a few suggestions
of trunks and branches Silver birch trees have
a very distinctive bark I can use a very strong mix of ultramarine
and burnt sienna to suggest the bark Using the side of the rigger gives just
a hint of the dark marks on the bark I hope you have enjoyed this demo If you visit my website
you will find information on workshops as well as a
gallery and more demos Come back soon. Thank you and goodbye. [music]

100 thoughts on “Painting Trees in Watercolour

  1. Dear Graham,
    I have watched heaps of watercolour tutorial videos and I've got to say that this had topped everything for me, it's just superb! I adore the finished work and the simplicity which you demonstrate is so effective that it's almost simply unbelievable. As an aside, the video production is excellent too. Thank you very much indeed.

  2. mille grazie Grahame per la tua risposta. Vedo molte volte i tuoi lavori, che apprezzo tantissimo per l'alta qualità e lo "Stile" che li caratterizzano. Capisco e comprendo il motivo per cui non puoi dire la marca dei pennelli che usi; ho acquistato il tuo DVD "trees and the Landscape", bellissimo, sono riuscito a scoprire che il mop è un Jackson's #17, quello round nero è uno Stratford & York serie 1000 #12, lo swordliner large e il rigger kolinsky#4 sono SAA, non riesco a decifrare la marca del pennello tondo che tu usi per schiarire il tronco ed i rami delle betulle ed i pennelli con manico chiaro che usi in questo filmato, ma con l'aiuto di Scotland-Yard …………..
    Ho acquistato tutti i colori che fanno parte della tua palette, ho ordinato una Craig Young palette come la tua ed il Trent Metal Sketching Easel come il tuo.
    Lo so, sono come un bambino che imita il Maestro, ma alla mia età non posso perdere tempo in prove su materiali innumerevoli che trovi sul mercato.
    Mi scuso per averti scritto sempre in Italiano, purtroppo e per colpa non so parlare ne tantomeno scrivere in Inglese, abbi pazienza Grahame.
    Il bello dell'Arte è che non ha nazionalità, è universale

  3. Could you please tell what paper you are using….I couldn't quite get it…Thank you so very much on sharing with us your talent

  4. grazie mille Grahame, sei veramente gentile a rispondermi in modo così esauriente. Ti sono debitore, spero di contraccambiare la tua cortesia nel prossimo tuo stage che farai a settembre del prossimo anno in Umbria Italy a cui spero ardentemente di partecipare.
    ciao Maestro

  5. Hi Grahame, i love your tutorial! Im just starting to learn to paint using watercolour and i would be trying the techniques you showed here! Thanks!

  6. Very refreshing and so pleased that you encourage lifting out as a technique as I hear so many poo poo that method. Its amazing how many artists refuse to do this. It proves on this painting how effective that technique is and doesnt take anything away from the freshness of this peice.  Love it and look forward to you perhaps doing a workshop with us at Bandouille next year  B

  7. I really enjoyed watching your videos specially the way you paint trees. Could you tell me which paper is best for lifting paint? You mentionned it and I kept on going back several times your video and I just can't get it. Thank you so much.

  8. Very nice and simple tut…I just love it
    Lifting begins at 8:08?…(is my guess). most papers begin to 'peel-off ' with just a few
    wet brush strokes, and that is why Mr. Booth uses the hot pressed, 140 lbs kind of paper, as I recall on a previous comment…he makes it look so very easy…!!

  9. Very good painting; I have viewed this particular demo a number of times; like your friendly attitude and helpful instructions.

  10. Je suis encore intriguée, c'est quoi le support ???? l'aquarelle glisse comme si le support était gras avant de se stabiliser, ça ne fait pas papier… très beau merci

  11. Very nice technique. A suggestion would be to color correct your studio lighting, which has a yellow cast to it and it effects the video.

  12. Interesante cada maestro utiliza la técnica de la acuarela como mejor obtiene los resultados ,sabiendo que tiene que hacerlo en un medio acuoso,gracias es muy bueno

  13. I too love your work. But I have to agree with one person here that the background music is not necessary. Will be ready with the mute button next time through. Thankyou for your demos. Gorgeous loose paintings and careful instruction.

  14. Hi , I will make a Beautiful Watercolor Portrait from a Photo

  15. Прекрасно. Спасибо за такую красоту.Очень вдохновляет!

  16. Great lesson. Been doodling for decades and it's still always useful to be reminded of those little pointers. Love your description of veridian BTW hideous indeed. Took me ages to figure out what to do with that stuff.

  17. What a beautiful painting and your delivery is brilliant! You are very good at detailing exactly what you are doing. Thank you so much 😀

  18. I'm amazed at how many artists hate viridian. It's one of my favourite colours and I use it all the time. Yet I dislike cerulean blue and pull it from my palettes. shrug we're all our own people.

  19. I love it so much. Your technique is admirable, the purest of watercolor. Thank you very much for sharing your work. I learn by seeing your work.

  20. Absolutely beautiful! You are a master of loose painting. I love how you lifted out for the trees and dropped in the raw sienna. Your voice and descriptions are a pleasure to listen to. Many thanks.

  21. Hi Graham … I've only recently started using watercolours; I love it … and hate it. So demanding , but every little success then becomes a victory. I am stunned by the apparent simplicity of your technique to achieve such a superb outcome. I realise that's a sign of a good artist, but it also encourages others to try your methods. I've never been confident about lifting paint, but will now give it a try. I'm using Bockingford 530 gm paper, so, with any luck it should work. Many thanks for taking the time to put your work online.

  22. This was a very amazing painting Graham! I'm relatively new to watercolor painting and this looks like it would be a good one to try for myself! I'm going to subscribe to your channel to make sure I don't miss any more episodes. I hope you're still painting and doing YouTube. Evidently this was done about 4 or 5 years ago!


  24. I have almost all your books, I love how you make paper and paint come alive
    My washes have a difficult time lifting, could I use a schosh of alcohol?

  25. Really appreciate the time to share your really organic and expressive take on Birch trees and the surroundings. Lovely painting! Definitely hit the "subscribe."

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