Easy Winter Landscape Painting Idea For All Skill Levels

Everyone is always amazed that young children were able to complete these fun wintery scenes. Use our detailed step-by-step tutorial to create an awesome Winter watercolor painting today.

4 different birch tree landscape painting on shiplap.

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Winter scenes are such a great subject matter for adults and children alike. This winter trees watercolor painting idea is a great way to showcase those snowy scenes. Even though snow can sometimes be a tricky subject we know you will be able to follow along to create a beautiful winter landscape.

What age is this easy winter lesson for?

You don’t have to be a professional artist to complete this art lesson. This art project is perfect for students in grades 3-5. This beginner winter painting could also be fun for adults! It can be adapted to be harder or easier based on the level your students are at.

Prior Skills That Would Be Helpful For Students To Have

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

Recommended Supplies

hand holding Saxs liquid watercolor paint used in art lesson.
  • Pencil
  • Watercolor Paper or Heavy Drawing Paper
  • Ultra Fine Tip Permanent Markers
  • Blending Stumps (optional)
  • Liquid watercolor paint or regular
  • Salt
  • Masking Tape or Painter’s Tape (see below for the variety that really works for kids)
  • Watercolor Paint Brush

Why do you use painter’s tape?

The last time I did this project, we used skinny painter’s tape, green painter’s tape, and narrow masking tape. I think it really helps kids understand background, middleground and foreground because they could associate the terms with the different colored tapes.

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

Tips For Creating Watercolor Paintings With 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
watercolor effect of salt and magenta and purple mixed with wet on wet painting.

How many classes will this lesson take?

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

Winter Landscape Painting Lesson

Day 1: Discuss Landscapes and Create Taped Trees

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 artworks so that they point out that objects closer to you are bigger and have more detail and as they go back in space in they get smaller with less detail.

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

Step-by-Step Tutorial

Step 1: 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: 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: Make 5-7 trees in a variety of sizes.

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

Step 4: Add branches, but encourage kids to rip the tape to create more realistic-looking tree branches.

Day 2: Paint Your Sky

Set up liquid watercolors that will blend well together. Think of 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.

Step 5: 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.

Day 3: Create Shadows with Pencils

Before taking the tape off, trace around the tape that is below the horizon line.

Step 6: Once the paintings are dry, begin to take the tape off. 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 7: 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: 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 8: 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 9: Erase extra pencil smudges.

Day 4: Add Birch Tree Designs with Permanent Marker

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

cast shadow with pencils on birch tree winter landscape.

Step 10: Use an ultra-fine permanent marker to create unique birch tree designs.

Why We Love This Watercolor Painting Project?

  • This watercolor art project is so fun because it gives enough structure while allowing a lot of artistic choices for different skill levels.
  • 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.

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

Looking for another great painting project for upper elementary?

Follow us on Pinterest or YouTube for more arts and crafts ideas!

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

Yield: Winter Watercolor Landscape Painting

Easy Winter Landscape Painting Idea

4 different birch tree landscape painting on shiplap.

Create beautiful birch tree landscape paintings. This art lesson is perfect for all different skill levels.

Materials

Tools

  • Pencil
  • Blending Stump (optional)

Instructions

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

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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.

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