Tag Archives: winter tree

Let’s Paint a Winter Storm at Night!

The Chicago area has been hit by two significant snow storms since winter started. I love snow. Not only is it soothing to watch as it descends, but it dresses the winter trees in their formal attire. How beautiful. Each and every one dazzles.

So, let’s paint a winter tree during an enchanted nighttime snow storm!

I do not have a reference photo but the technique will work with any deciduous winter tree.


Step 1: Draw your tree on a 140lb coldpress watercolor paper with a pencil. My paper size is 6×9. The focal point is the tree itself so in the composition law of thirds, I wanted the tree to fill 2/3 of the paper.


Step 2: Using masking fluid, paint where the snow would land on the branches. I covered the tops of almost every branch. Let completely dry. If you do not wait until it is completely dry, you will ruin your brush. You can make sure it is dry by lightly touching it after about 10 minutes.


Step 3: We are going to paint the sky wet on wet. Using a 1″ flat brush with clean water, wet the paper in the area of the sky and the tree. Brush right over the dried masking fluid. Make sure you do not skip around and leave dry spots. When the shine on the paper disappears, paint ultramarine blue on top and bottom of sky and mauve in the middle. Let the colors blend and touch. You’re literally laying down a few brush strokes and stepping away. Do not over work this.
While the paper is still wet, sprinkle a little bit of sea salt on the paper and let completely dry. When dry tilt your paper and discard the salt.


Step 4: Paint the tree starting at the bottom and work your way up. I used a medium round brush. If you look at the base of the tree I started with a mixture of sepia and ultramarine. As I work my way up, I added mauve to that sepia/ultramarine mixture, then viridian green, lastly at the top alizarin crimson.
Using a small round brush, paint in smaller branches repeating the colors we already used.


Step 5: Rub the masking fluid off with your finger. Paint shadows under the tree using the same sky color on top.


Step 6 Final: Using a small round brush paint a light mixture (meaning less pigment and more water) of prussian blue where the snow touches the branches, making a fine line. This is the shadow color of the snow on the tree.
When everything is dry, take a #3 black micron pen and draw tiny branches/twigs coming from the small branches. Outline the trunk and main branches of the tree to make it stand out.

I hope you enjoyed this free step-by-step demonstration of how to paint a nighttime winter snowstorm.

If you would like to purchase a greeting card ($4.95) or archival print click below. Thank you!
Art Prints


Encouraging Watercolor Giveaway


Do you feel like sometimes you just need a little encouragement to get through the day? Me too. When I’m in nature, all I need to do is sit in creation and soak it in. During that time, my charge cord is plugged in and within a matter of minutes I’m full.

Look what scripture says about nature:

The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
    night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
    no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
    their words to the ends of the world.  Psalm 19:1-4

For those who believe, this is why we feel so close to God when in nature. Nature itself is witnessing of God without words…that’s so cool!

But what if you cannot get outside?

There’s another source of encouragement you can tap into at any time by meditating on the Word itself. It is alive.

When I’m worried about something, I find an appropriate verse and repeat it during the day.
For example, if I’m feeling scared I can say this verse:

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Is 41:10

After a few minutes of meditating on this, I will lose my fear and begin to feel calm. If I fall backwards and feel anxious again, all I have to do is keep repeating my verse. It really is powerful.

So, I want to encourage someone out there with some free artwork in the mail.

  • 1 person will receive this original watercolor with a personalized handwritten verse on it.
  • 6 people will receive a print of this watercolor with their own personalized handwritten verse on it.

The Rules:

  1. By Friday, March 4, 2016 at 6pm (cst) Leave a comment and tell me what area you need encouragement in. (For example: I am feeling worried… I am feeling scared… I am feeling a little sad.) You don’t have to be specific. DO NOT leave your personal information like address or phone number…it will be deleted.
  2. I will pick 7 entries Saturday, March 5, 2016 and contact you via email.
  3. When you receive your artwork in the mail, do something encouraging for someone else. This could be anything. You can call someone up on the phone and tell them you’re thinking about them and share your verse. You can give a friend one single flower and find a verse that can help them. Just do something encouraging for someone in need!

Next week, I will post the selected entries as 7 different encouraging verses for anyone to download. So everyone is a winner!

It is my hope that I can uplift people and in return they can turn around and uplift others. Let us be light in the world!!!!



Hidden Lake and a Strange Tree Sketch


cloud and mist

When cloud and mist subtract vivid color,
and strips loudness from the landscape,
A submissive hush befalls.

Nature takes notice.

Dried goldenrod, past its prime,
quakes tenderly in the silence.
A strange tree stands alone.

His poetry comes to life.

As daylight slips away from my grasp,
I bargain, but it’s no use.
Dusk silences me.
My submissive hush befalls.

Last weekend I had the chance to make a quick getaway to Hidden Lake. The scene was so beautiful, so delicate, so spellbinding, that when I was done painting I had to write this short piece. Not really a poem, nothing rhymes, but a deeper level of feeling a moment, translated into words on paper. A prayer.

This quick time-out was just what I needed to connect and recharge my batteries for the coming week. As I grow older, I find I need this more and more. And I find myself slipping further from the expectations that corporate society has on me to run the rat race and be stuck on that treadmill that leads to nowhere. Contentment without things. Oooo the secret the credit industry doesn’t want you to know.

My prayer is that you too can find an oasis, even for just 10 minutes, so that you can connect and recharge as well and get back to what’s really important.

Lake Marmo Winter Tree Watercolor Sketch

Lake Marmo Winter Tree

An inviting bench next to a lonely tree…I accept.

by a frozen snow topped lake
the trees don’t make a sound…
contemplating their position
recognizing that this again is winter

Now that winter has stripped the leaves clean it’s time to really study the character and structure of trees. What makes them different from one another? What makes them unique? What flaws do they have? How does the color of the bark differ from its neighbor? What side is the sun hitting and how does the shadow cast? What color is the shadow? Is it windy? Are the shadows dancing?

I love winter for the fact that the trees are exposed. When the snow falls ever so gently on each branch, they are dressed in their winter garments like a fancy white laced dress you only wear on special occasions. And every one of them looks different! I can’t wait for some snow.

Take some time to study the trees. They’ll reveal themselves to you.

Sketch Class Results March 2011


Oak Tree - Little Red Schoolhouse

25°F  cloudy, cold, windy

We take a short hike on the White Oak Trail before we paint, even though it is terribly cold with a persistent wind, we desperately want to connect with nature. In search for Spring Beauty wildflowers we come up short, instead we find a partially frozen stream with razor-sharp shards of ice and geometric frozen patterns.

It is officially spring, but where is spring?

That’s okay, we are nature diehards.
We cannot grab the sun and pull it closer. We cannot take our fingers and pull up those awaiting spring wildflowers. We cannot invite the dragonflies and call up the frogs and turtles….we can only wait on the One who can…with hope and reverence and no complaints we wait. (well, we try not to complain…he..he..he)

This day we decided to concentrate on a particular oak tree along Long John Slough. Transfixed with the beauty of just the trunk, we celebrated it by making a quick watercolor sketch. Briefly when the sun peaked out, we quickly noted bright green moss color on the trunk and casting shadows as well.


sketch class March 2011

We decided to keep warm and sketch from inside the educational center after our hike.


Class artwork: Michelle, Chris, Alanna

Here is a collection of our beautiful oak tree watercolor sketches. Quick and loose was our goal, I think it only took us about 45 minutes.


Oak tree watercolor by Chris

We will not be detoured by cold temps even though our high is supposed to be 50°F.
But hey, with Chicago weather, we can always expect some snow in April…right?!? Bite my tongue!