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Easy Watercolor Winter Scene Landscape Painting Tutorial

Wintery scenes are fun to paint no matter what age or skill level you are. Use our detailed step-by-step tutorial will guide you through each foolproof step to create your own easy Winter watercolor painting today.

4 different birch tree landscape painting on shiplap.

Even though snow can sometimes be a tricky subject we know you will be able to follow along to create a beautiful winter landscape with birch trees.

What We Love About This Winer Art Lesson


  • BEGINNER-FRIENDLY – You don’t have to be a professional artist to complete this landscape art lesson. This art project is perfect for students in upper elementary and middle school.
  • CAN BE ADAPTED – This beginner painting idea could also be fun for adults! It can be adapted to be harder or easier based on the level your students are at.
  • WET-ON-WET TECHNIQUE– Young artists love seeing the colors mix in the skies of their winter scenes. Adding salt helps give it that extra wintery feel.

Recommended Supplies

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Handy Tip: Use Different Colored Tapes

Using different widths and colors helps kids understand background, middleground and foreground. They could associate the terms with the different colored tapes and how artists show depth.

small painter's tape and large painters tape on watercolor winter landscape painting.

Prior Skills That Would Be Helpful For Students To Have

  • Previous use of watercolor paint (but not 100% necessary)
  • How to shade with a pencil and how to create tonal value
  • Some knowledge of the concepts of background, middle ground, foreground

Art Discussion and Analysis

Before You Begin

Start a discussion about how artists create depth in artworks. You can look at different paintings that might be done in oil painting or even en plein air.

Most young students will understand that they add a background to their artworks and have previous knowledge of this. Show them a variety of paintings so that they point out that objects closer to you are more oversized and have more detail and as they go back in space, they get smaller with less detail.

After your discussion, children have some understanding of how artists create space in a whole scene.

Winter Scene Step-by-Step Tutorial

Step 1: Sketch Horizon Line

Draw a horizon line as lightly as possible on 12 x 18” watercolor paper. I always say “draw light until you get it right”.

Step 2: Tape Larger Trees

Show students how to add larger trees closer to the bottom of the page and the smallest trees closer to the horizon line.

Step 3: Add More Trees With Tape

Make 5-7 trees in a variety of sizes.

painter's tape and masking tape on watercolor paper to make trees.

Step 4: Tape Out Tree Details

Add branches, but encourage kids to rip the tape to create more realistic-looking tree branches.

Art Teacher Tip: If you are doing this in the classroom, this is a good stopping point for the day.

Step 5: Paint Your Sky

Set up liquid watercolors that will blend well together. Use analogous colors or colors that are next to the color wheel. If you want to show your children a cool analogous color song check out this one by Scratch Garden. 

You can use any colours of Winter. We used magenta, violet and blue liquid watercolors. In the past, we have also used warmer colors for the sky as well.

hand holding Saxs liquid watercolor paint used in art lesson.

Step 6: Experiment with Watercolor Techniques

Use a wet-on-wet watercolor technique to help the colors blend in the sky. Show wetting the paper before adding paints. 

blue and purple watercolor paints on watercolor paper mixing together.

Work in sections and add salt to the winter landscape skies before the paint starts to dry.

kid's hand holding paint brush painting blue and purple watercolor paper on winter landscape project.

Sprinkle salt into wet watercolor paper for a fun effect.

slat sprinkled in watercolor paint with taped trees on art lesson.

Tips For Painting Your Sky

  • Try to keep the paint above the horizon line so that you still have white snow.
  • Place paintings in a flat spot to completely dry.
  • White paint could be used to hide any mistakes or drips.
watercolor painted landscape with taped birch trees.

Step 7: Let Paintings Dry

Let the painting completely dry. Another great stopping point if you are doing this project at school.

watercolor effect of salt and magenta and purple mixed with wet on wet painting.

Step 8: Take Off The Tape

Before taking the tape off, trace around the tape that is below the horizon line. Start with the branches first. You may get a little texture on the paper depending on the tape you used. Since it is bark, just tell students you created a tree texture.

hand taking off painter's tape on winter landscape painting.

Step 9: Add Shading With Pencil

Next, you will begin to add darker shades with your pencil to the tree to make them look more 3-dimensional.

hand holding pencil and adding shadows to the side of the tree.

Add shading to one side of each tree. The darker tone should be on the edge and fade to white in the middle of the tree trunk.

Optional: Use A Blending Stump

You can use a blending stump to help smooth out the shading.

hand holding blending stump to make shadows on the side of trees with a pink and purple painted watercolor sky.

Step 10: Create Cast Shadows

Create a darker shadow area at the base of the tree and fade out as you go further away. You can use a blending stump if you want. 

Step 11: Clean-up The Artwork

Erase extra pencil smudges.

Step 12: Add Birch Tree Designs with Permanent Marker

Look at real birch trees for inspiration. Notice the variety of organic shapes and lines.

Use an ultra-fine permanent marker to create unique birch tree designs.

cast shadow with pencils on birch tree winter landscape.

Read More>>>Did you know you could paint watercolor on canvas board?

Watercolor Painting Tips For Kids

  • Only allow 5 pinches of salt
  • Use a limited palette of watercolor paints
  • Make sure students understand what colors will work well together when mixed
  • Look at real trees for inspiration and notice that branches are skinnier than trunks
  • Demonstrate and act out size variation by actually using your body and hands so kids understand
  • Have kids ask for help if they are ripping their paper when taking the tape off
  • Consider making smaller landscapes to use as greeting cards or practice first

Follow us on Pinterest, YouTube, or Flipboard for more free art and craft ideas!

Art Lesson FAQs

Class time or amount of time for project 3-4 40-minute classes.

winter scene watercolor painting with birch trees, snow and pink sky.

More Upper Elementary Art Lessons

Kids and adults are amazed at how awesome these winter landscape paintings with birch trees turn out.

Do you like this art project? Please give us 5 stars below 🤩🤩🤩🤩🤩 and have fun being creative with your family.

Easy Winter Landscape Painting Idea

Create beautiful birch tree winter landscape paintings. This art lesson is perfect for all different skill levels.
Print Tutorial
4 different birch tree landscape painting on shiplap.
Prep:5 minutes
Creating:1 hour
Total Time:1 hour 5 minutes

Equipment

  • Pencil
  • Blending Stump (optional)

Supplies

Instructions

  • Draw a horizon line as lightly as possible on 12 x 18” watercolor paper. I always say “draw light until you get it right”.
  • Show students how to add larger trees closer to the bottom of the page and the smallest trees closer to the horizon line.
  • Make 5-7 trees in a variety of sizes by taping them on watercolor paper.
  • Add branches by ripping the tape to create more realistic-looking tree branches.
  • Use a wet-on-wet watercolor technique to help the colors blend in the sky. Show wetting the paper before adding paints. 
  • Work in sections and add salt to the winter landscape skies before the paint starts to dry.
  • Once paintings are dry, begin to take the tape off.
  • Add shading to one side of each tree. Continue on all tree trunks.
  • Add a cast shadow at the base of each tree with a pencil.
  • Use an ultra-fine permanent marker to create unique birch tree designs.

Notes

    • Try to keep the paint above the horizon line so that you still have white snow.
    • Place paintings in a flat spot to completely dry.
    • Always point out how each artistic choice is unique for the artist. From learning about how to create a foreground, middle ground and background to a wet-on-wet watercolor technique this art project covers a lot of concepts within a short amount of time.
    • Only allow 5 pinches of salt
      Use a limited palette of watercolor paints
    • Demonstrate and act out size variation by actually using your body and hands so kids understand
    • Look at real trees for inspiration and notice that branches are skinnier than trunks
  •  
Author: Erin
Cost: Less than $5

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4 Comments

    1. Hi Christie. I am glad you love the colors in this watercolor landscape project. Kids love taking the tape off to reveal their trees. Have fun painting.