Snow Tree Sketch
Watercolor Sketching Tutorial

by Jennifer Branch
YouTube Watercolor Painting Tutorial

Do you love painting but think you don't have time to enjoy your hobby?

Welcome to my new series, Everyday Painting!

We're going to explore paintings that you can do in just a few minutes a day, no hours or waiting for the weekend required. All the demonstrations and other quick ideas range in time from 10 to 30 minutes, with my sweet spot at 15-20 minutes, setting up supplies included!

This Snow Tree Sketch took 20 minutes total to paint, with no drying time at all.

So take a few minutes for you to do something you love passionately!

Snow Tree Sketch Watercolor Painting tutorial

Sketching Tutorial Level


Skill Building

Everyday Painting



Art Supplies

5" x 8"
Pentalic Aqua Journal

Escoda Full Bellied Round Squirrel, no.14


M. Graham watercolors

Nickel Azo Yellow
Cobalt Blue
Ultramarine Blue
Cobalt Teal
Cobalt Violet
Quinacridone Rust
Van Dyke Brown (Daniel Smith)
White Gouache

Painting Demonstration 1

Snow Tree Sketch Watercolor Painting Lesson 1

A beautiful and rare snow day in northwest Georgia inspired me to sketch this tree. I love sketching the different seasons and light of trees in my backyard. I have to admit in the winter they're usually difficult to paint since the color and value contrast is much lower than during the high summer.

Hooray for snow! Winter trees become so much easier to paint, with dramatic shadows and lovely texture contrast. That gray bark turns almost golden next to blue violet snow shadows.

You need to try painting snowy trees if you can. They're so much fun to paint!

I begin lightly sketching the shadows in cobalt violet and cobalt blue. I want to keep it fairly wet so everything blurs together.

Reference photo for watercolor tutorial

Reference photo for Snow Tree Sketch

Painting Demonstration 2

Snow Tree Sketch Watercolor Painting Lesson 2

I add a few strong darks in van dyke brown and cobalt violet, leaving lots of holes for white space. I'm still blurring everything a bit, letting it flow.

Painting Demonstration 3

Snow Tree Sketch Painting Tutorial 3

I have some fun with splatter and dashing in a few distant tree trunks. I keep the distance pale in this wash.

I add a little more drybrush texture to the tree trunk. I want it very craggy, but in several layers.

I'm not waiting for paint to dry in between layers, just moving around the painting and letting it partially dry behind me.

Artist Tips

A dash of splattering paint or water helps you to relax and have fun painting. It's not white pristine paper anymore!
Snow Tree Sketch watercolor painting tutorial by Jennifer Branch

Painting Demonstration 4

Snow Tree Sketch Painting Tutorial 4

I add very soft nickel azo yellow and cobalt violet to the tree trunk. I think scuffle in a little texture with dry brush.

Painting Demonstration 5

Snow Tree Sketch Painting Tutorial 5

I darken the background to show the long shadows behind the tree. I also darken a few more of the nearer tree trunks.

Painting Demonstration 6

Snow Tree Sketch Watercolor Painting Tutorial 6

And I decide the background needs to be even darker. I also add a few more distant trunks to help with the sense of distance.

Painting Demonstration 7

Snow Tree Sketch Watercolor Painting Tutorial 7

I add some more warm colors in the distance, like lights hitting the distance snow.

I start to redefine the near shadows, keeping the warm edge and cool edge.

Snow Tree Sketch Watercolor Painting tutorial

Final Watercolor Sketch!

As a finishing touch, I add a little white gouache drybrush for the frosting of snow on the trunk bottom. Gouache is perfect for this, since the snow sits on the surface of the tree, just sparkling.

I had a lot of fun this snow day and a lot of fun with the watercolor sketch! I hope this inspires you to paint a snowy day of your own. Or if you're near hot white beaches right now, use some of the same techniques for shadows!

Painting a little sketch doesn't have to take hours, it can just take a few minutes.

Welcome to Everyday Painting!

Happy Painting! Jennifer Branch

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