Super Easy Watercolor Lesson on Painting Fir Trees for Complete Beginners

In the video below I’ll show you how to paint a fir tree if you’ve never painted one before.


Have you ever painted a fir tree in watercolor? Perhaps not yet but if you have then you will know that it isn’t easy. And if you are a watercolor beginner who paints landscapes then at some point you’ll find yourself painting fir trees. And then you’ll find that it isn’t easy. I’ve been painting for 17 years and I still find painting fir trees difficult and so I think you will too.

Why Painting Fir Trees is Difficult

I had to really think about this and I decided that: 

1 They are complicated shapes. They sometimes look simple but they have a certain irregularity and detail that is difficult to capture.

2 There are many kinds of fir tree. In fact, is it a fir tree or a pine or a spruce? I don’t want to go into those details but it is crucial to know a few different kinds of trees and the particular one that you are painting.

3 They can easily look naff. I’m sure you’ve all seen a painting of a fir tree that just didn’t look good. 

Why Painting Fir Trees is Important

So you might be thinking that you can just skip painting fir trees but I want to give you three reasons why you shouldn’t.

1 Fir trees look beautiful.

2 Many countryside scenes contain fir trees.

3 If you want to paint a snow scene then you’ll probably want to paint a fir tree.

My own Personal Frustrations with Painting Fir Trees

I’ve spent the last several weeks trying to understand how to paint fir trees. I went a bit crazy as the photo below might prove to you. These are the fir tree paintings that I thought were half decent the rest, maybe about 70% of the total fir trees paintings I did, got thrown away.

8 Kinds of Fir Tree and Counting!

I actually found more than 8 different ways of painting fir trees with one brush. Here are 8 all done with a 5/8″ hake brush and phthalo blue paint.

A Watercolor Video Lesson on Painting an Easy Fir Tree

Some of the fir trees above are difficult to paint. But I found one way that is super easy and looks good. In the video above I share that way with you.

Take it further?

Now you’ve practiced painting a fir tree why don’t you try painting the scene below which uses this particular fir tree.

Watercolor Materials Checklist for Painting Fir Trees

Here is a downloadable checklist of the materials that you need to do this painting. It is the minimum number of materials you need – in fact, you only need one brush and one paint to do the picture in the video. 

I’ve also included links for each of the essential materials to Dickblick, an online art store, so you can order the products straight away.

Please note: if you don’t have a hake then use a flat brush. If you don’t have a flat brush then use whatever you have. And the same goes for phthalo blue. If you don’t have that blue then use another. And if you don’t have blue then use whatever you have.

Layout of Watercolor Materials for Painting Fir Trees

Below is how I layout my materials. I strongly recommend that you take a few minutes to organize your materials before painting, it will save you a lot of frustration.

Layout of Materials for One Brush Method watercolor course for beginners.
Layout of Materials for One Brush Method.

Note: My water container is actually a big child’s bucket but I sometimes use a small container as in the image above because it fits into the screen of the video better. I recommend a big water container though. Just make sure it is not too high if you sit down to paint as you have to keep reaching over the top to get to the water which is annoying.

And the tissue at the top is for mistakes on the paper which I can quickly wipe off whereas the tissue on the right hand side I use with my brush.

The One Brush Course for Beginners

Learn more about the fundamentals of watercolor painting with my One Brush Method. Just click on the button below for more details.

Final Word on Painting Fir Trees

Well I hope after this lesson you won’t find painting fir trees as difficult as before and that this lesson will open up lots of new fir tree scenes you can paint.

Happy painting,


Gareth Naylor

I am an Englishman living and painting in Japan. I have now been here for over 17 years and have been painting for all that time. I love to travel around the Japanese countryside and find beautiful places to paint.

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