Try Your Hand at...

Woodland Scene with Matthew Palmer

Matthew Palmer uses his
range of Natural Watercolours
to capture the atmosphere
of this woodland scene



Matthew Palmer Natural Watercolours

SAA Gold Brushes

Matthew Palmer Tree and
Texture Brushes


Let's get started...

1. Wet your entire sheet using the XL tree brush and clean water, being careful not to make it too wet. With the size 20 brush, swirl in a few pale strokes of Natural Yellow, followed by Natural Orange, making sure these colours are pale, then add Natural Blue to the top of the sky. Using the Natural range means you don't have to mix many colours. Clean your brush and then add some of the Natural Green to the landscape area below the trees followed by Natural Brown, being careful not to go too much over the water’s edge.

2. Now using the XL tree and texture brush, squeeze out the excess water and pick up a fairly strong Natural Green Light by stippling it into the paint, then stipple it onto the still damp paper, varying the pressure to create different leaf effects. Ensure the bottom of the tree area is nice and dark; use plenty of the darker Natural Green for this. Don't be afraid to use nice thick strong paint and remember to squeeze out the excess water from the XL brush. Next, gently stipple a few random open leaves at the top of the trees. Just as the area is about to dry, use your palette knife or the round corner of a plastic card to ‘scratch out’ some trees, applying more pressure at the bottom of the trunks.

3. Once dry, use the size 12 brush and a good strong mix of Natural Brown and water to paint the large trees; start at the bottom and paint them in the direction they grow, wide at the base and slimmer at the tip. Changing for a size 6 and the rigger brush will easily allow you to paint the finer branches in the direction they grow. To achieve the really fine branches, use your rigger and have an almost dry brush and just use the tip, trying to ‘flick away’ the ends. You can use this same technique to paint in a few darker background trees. Finally use a dry size 6 brush with a touch of Natural Brown to ‘fix’ the trees to the ground.

4. To create some stunning highlights on the main trees, use the flat tip of a damp 1/2" flat to lift out the colour – to really lift the colour off dab with kitchen paper. Do the majority of the highlights on the right side of the trees, imagine the light coming from the right. See how I have lightened one side of the smaller branches and brought them into the centre of the main trunk. To push a branch to the rear of the tree, lighten the trunk that runs in front of that particular branch. It’s worth putting time in to this stage as it really makes a huge difference. Try to create a few roots as well, using the same effect. A few cast shadows were painted using the size 6 brush and a medium mix of Natural Grey.

5. Use a nice strong Natural Brown to paint the rocky edge, blending it into the surrounding landscape. While this is still wet, as in stage 2, use your palette knife or plastic card, to scrape off the rock shapes. Using the flat edge of the blade or card apply more pressure towards the corner. To give the rocks more depth add a few darker shadows with the size 6 and Natural Grey.

6. The final stage is when it all comes together, a chance to fiddle, but not too much! Start off by adding a few fence posts to the base of the large tree to give a sense of scale. Highlight the right side with the flat brush in the same way as the trunks. All the colours currently in your palette will be ideal for the water and reflections. Start by wetting the water area then using the size 12 brush paint horizontal strokes of Natural Green Light followed by the darker Natural Green. The darker green works well in the foreground of the water. While still wet, paint a medium strength Natural Brown just below the two banks, again keeping the lines horizontal. Finally with a size 6 brush and a strong Natural Grey, paint the reflection of the trees and a few ‘quick flick’ vertical lines from the water’s edge. As the water dries, add a few Natural Grey horizontal ripples and use a craft knife to scratch out a bit of sparkle near the bank.