Create your own magical, snow-laden Christmas tree in this easy step-by-step acrylic painting tutorial for beginners
Queen Bees! We are painting this cute and easy snowy Christmas tree in a forest using acrylic paints on canvas. This is perfect to hang up in your house as part of your Christmas decor or to give as a gift to a friend.
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PAINTING SUPPLIES YOU’LL NEED
Step 1: Paint the Background
With a flat wash brush, load your brush with a combination of ultramarine blue with a tiny bit of titanium white and create vertical strokes starting from the top of the canvas and ending almost 2/3 of the way down.
Once you lay down your first layer, mix ultramarine blue with a tiny hint of mars black to create a darker shade of blue. Then repeat the vertical strokes onto the canvas, with a heavy bias towards the right and left-most sides of the canvas. You’ll want to leave the center of the canvas a light blue to create a focal point when we add our tree later.
Staying with the flat wash brush, add a bit of white to the center and begin blending the dark blue with the newly added white. Keep your brush strokes light and angled to the side to help create a smoother blend.
Flat brushes are fantastic tools to help you create sharp, straight lines with little effort. I usually like to get my #10 shader brush which is perfect for a 11x14″ canvas.
Step 2: Add and Blend Gradients in the Snow
Using a filbert brush, add a few dots of ultramarine blue inside the “snow” portion to begin creating shadows. You don’t need very much of the blue, so don’t worry about going too nuts on this part. Wash your brush and load it with titanium white and create a series of “curved” lines along the border of the background with the snow area of the canvas. Be sure to carry the white into the blue portions in the snow to help with blending. Note: make sure your paint is nice and wet when blending.
Once you have a nicely blending area, it’s time to do a bit of stippling/dry brushing. Using titanium white, be sure your filbert brush is barely loaded with the paint; this helps keep your strokes transparent and not solid, which is perfect for snow flurries. Tap your brush on its flat side along the border of sky to the snow as well as along the entire snow area of the canvas. This creates a smoother, snow-laden hazy dream-scape.
Step 3: Paint in the background trees
It’s time to create the group of trees in the background of the Christmas tree. Grab your shader brush and load it with mars black. Using the tip, create a straight vertical line from the tip of the future tree to the base. This will be your tree’s foundation and trunk. If you want to create a thicker trunk, simply use the flat side of your brush when painting your lines.
Choose one side to begin creating trees and work your way through. Create the first tree 3-4 inches from the side of the canvas as a good rule of thumb.
To create the tree branches, use the tip of your shader brush and create a line that comes out tangentially from the tree trunk. Basically aim to paint a “Y” shape every time you create a branch. Repeat creating trunks and branches, ideally 4 large trees, 2 on either side.
To create the more “faded” trees in the background, be sure to remove as much paint off your brush to create another dry-brush effect. Create a few vertical strokes on both sides of the canvas, using light pressure, avoiding the center. Then, using your flat wash brush, lightly brush titanium white over the background trees to create a “faded” aesthetic.
Step 4: Add in the Main Christmas Tree
Using the tip of your shader brush loaded with green paint, create a straight vertical line from the tip of the future tree to the base. This will be your tree’s foundation and trunk.
Now it’s time to build the leaves. When it comes to fir trees, think fluffy. Coniferous trees, from a distance, appear to have that furry quality about them, and that can be done with many strokes applied in similar orientations. Create right curved strokes for the right side of the tree and left curved strokes for the left side of the tree. Keep repeating this over and over until your tree is filled in.
So, using your shader brush, turn your brush at an angle from the vertical line, and create a series of lines emanating from the vertical line, all of which eventually create an umbrella effect. This means that the tip of your tree is tinier than the midsection of your tree which is smaller than the very bottom of your tree.
Step 5: Add the Snow on the Branches
Now that you have the branches established, it’s time to add the snow on top of them. When creating your snow, think about how snow collects on the branches, which is usually on top of the established bough. Using a shader brush tip and titanium white, follow the same directions as the branches, going down each layer of the tree, building your snow layers as you go.
As a cool finishing effect, using the flat side of your shader brush and create larger brush strokes, varying the orientations along the middle of the Christmas tree.
Step 6: Add Snowflakes
For the final step, it’s time to add some magical snowflakes to really seal in the Christmas magic. Mixing titanium white with a good deal of water, use a latex-gloved hand or brush to flick tiny, spontaneous specks onto the background and all along the tree. Make sure to add more specks along the edges of the canvas as well as on the snow. You’ll notice how much your painting will instantly change right before your eyes.
bonus tip: Turn your canvas on its side and continue the snow flake “flicking”, so it looks like a sweet little blizzard encompassing the entire scene and canvas.
Step 7: Ogle and Admire Your Work
And there you have it, a beautiful snow-laden Christmas tree forest scene that will send you all those instant holiday good feels. Can you imagine yourself walking through this forest scene and seeing a tree just like this?
Easy Snowy Christmas Tree Painting Tutorial
Amanda is a self-taught artist and founder of The Buzzed Artist, dedicated to teaching adult beginners how to art with confidence using acrylic paint and love themselves in the creation process. If you want to get started right with acrylic painting, be sure to enroll in her FREE mini-course The Acrylic Artist’s Toolkit.