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Painting Trees in Acrylic

Learn essential techniques for painting trees in acrylic. Capture the awe-inspiring qualities of every season in forestscapes that transport viewers to tranquility.

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Create fascinating forestscapes in acrylic with professional painter and author Peter John Reid. Learn to paint better trees by recognizing and capturing the differences in the trunks, branches and canopies of a variety of species. Mix lush greens with confidence. Apply wet-in-wet techniques to paint striking skies. Use glazing methods to capture the magic of a sunset or a misty morning. Paint groups of trees with attention-grabbing depth and convincing perspective. Recreate the reflection of trees and sky on water. Easily achieve vibrant backgrounds and captivating canopies with watercolor techniques in acrylic. Create a multitude of trees, grasses and leaves without painting them individually. Plus, use negative painting to build form quickly and add details such as the sky peeking through foliage. Paint forestscapes that capture the wonder of a walk in the woods.


Peter John Reid



Peter John Reid is the author of How to Paint with Acrylics. He's a graduate of the Ontario College of Art (now OCAD University), and his paintings can be found in galleries throughout Ontario. Reid also started the painting group Studio Twenty, which has raised thousands of dollars for local charities through donated paintings.

By This Expert

Elements of the Tree

01: Elements of the Tree

Meet your instructor, artist and author Peter John Reid. Peter begins the lesson by showing a whole new way to look at trees. You'll see detailed examples of how trunks, branches and canopies vary between species. In addition, Peter shares his tips and tricks for capturing the unique character of each tree.

26 min
Mixing Greens

02: Mixing Greens

Learn the essential skill of mixing shades of green. Peter explains three important characteristics of color: value, saturation and hue. Next, you'll get step-by-step instructions on how to mix varying shades of green on your palette. For added practice, Peter shows you how to make a color mixing chart. Peter also explains how different shades can create certain effects in your paintings.

24 min
Wet-in-Wet Blends for Backgrounds

03: Wet-in-Wet Blends for Backgrounds

Discover how to set the stage for your trees with Peter's versatile technique for painting skies and other background elements. Peter shows you his preferred setup and method for working with quick-drying acrylics. Learn how to blend wet colors into each other to create beautiful, smooth gradations. You'll also see Peter's technique for glazing and creating a partial wet-in-wet blend, perfect for painting beautiful sunsets or depicting mist on the water.

23 min
Forms in Groups

04: Forms in Groups

It's easy to get lost in all the details. In this lesson, Peter shows you how to simplify the process. You'll get in-depth instruction on how to paint groups of trees and still achieve depth and perspective. Peter also shares his tips and suggestions for taking better reference photos. In addition, you'll learn effective techniques for painting the basic shapes of trees before adding in splashes of detail.

26 min
The Watercolor Technique

05: The Watercolor Technique

Practice a completely different style of acrylic painting. Peter demonstrates his watercolor technique using spray bottles to achieve an airbrushed effect. Discover the perfect technique for quickly covering large areas with vibrant color and texture and for creating canopies with ease. Learn how to seal and mount your finished painting on a wood panel.

19 min
Painting Tree Noise

06: Painting Tree Noise

Learn how to paint trees quickly. Peter shows you his process for creating texture and "tree noise"--the feeling of massed trees, grasses and leaves--rather than painting trunks or stalks individually. Add layers of thinned color, then use a color shaper to scribble away the paint, using the underlying canvas to create the illusion of tree trunks. Along the way, pick up Peter's technique for changing the value of your colors to achieve atmospheric perspective.

18 min
Negative Painting

07: Negative Painting

Advance your understanding of negative painting as Peter shows you an impactful method for creating form quickly in a painting of a misty, tree-lined lake. You'll also learn how to use negative painting for snowfields by covering areas of the foreground, mid-ground and background. Finish by adding luminescence to earlier works with patches of sky shining through leaves.

30 min