How to Paint a Weeping Willow

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The leaves of a willow, which hang loosely and make the tree appear to be weeping, make the weeping willow one of the most beautiful trees to try and capture on canvas. Weeping willows are ideal additions to landscape paintings because they lend an air of mysterious beauty and present a textural challenge to the artist that requires a skilled use of brushes and blending of colors. For these reasons, the weeping willow makes a good subject for beginning painters who wish to push their painting skills to a higher level.

Things You'll Need

  • Pencil
  • Eraser
  • Canvas
  • Oil paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Paint thinner
  • Sketch your willow on canvas with a hard-tipped pencil. Use it to compose your tree on the canvas. Keep the lines of the weeping willow's trunk light as it will be hidden behind the droopy leaves of your tree. Be generous with the space the leaves take up. Avoid making the tree look like a single mop head. Make three or four of these mop head shapes and overlap them to link them together.

  • Paint the tree first. Blend light brown with a little dab of black paint and apply it to the tree part of your willow. Use even, short strokes of your brush to drag your paint along the length of the tree, keeping the direction consistent. Let the paint thin out before you remove your brush for more paint, then apply the next coat slightly overlapping where you left off with the last, which will help give texture to your bark.

  • Use a combination of very dark green paint with a mixture of light green blended with gray. The green/gray mixture should have almost an ash look to it. Apply the dark green paint at the center of your leaves, moving your paint brush toward the bottom of the painting in long strokes to keep the "draping" appearance of the willow leaves. Continue each stroke until the paint wears off the brush, then add more paint and begin where you left off. Continue to apply the dark green paint until you reach the outer edges of your leaves. Be sure to leave small areas where the tree itself shows through the thick color of your leaves.

  • Apply the light green/gray mixture to the willow leaves over the wet green paint. Do not apply this layer of paint as evenly as you did the darker green. Be random in your application of this layer so you create shadows and shading. Leave a good deal of the dark green showing through the light green/gray mixture on its own, without interference from the top layer of paint. The overlapping quality of the two will give the willow a shadowy effect. Apply the top layer with a combination of long strokes and dabbing to give the willow a dimensional texture.

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