Painting Pine Cones

I love painting winter scenes this time of the year. Usually I paint some type of winter landscape. Recently, as I was surfing Youtube painting tutorials–which I love to do in my spare time, I came across this video by Maria Raczynska on painting pine cones. I was inspired to give this a try. So here are the steps of my own version of what I call “Snowy Pine Cones”:

The watercolors I used are different from the ones she used. I chose to use Cerulean Blue, Royal Blue, Winsor Green Blue Shade, Quinacridone Gold, Quinacridone Burnt Orange, and Titanium White Gouache.

I began by lightly sketching in my composition.

Pencil sketch
© Annie Glacken

After completing my sketch, I painted masking fluid (Pebeo) on the top edge of the branch in the foreground, the tips of the pine cones, and spattered some into the background for snow. (Not shown in photo)

Since the background would be painted wet into wet, I needed to get my puddles of paint prepared so that I wouldn’t have to stop to mix paint once I began.

  • Puddle of Cerulean Blue the consistency of skim milk
  • Puddle of a lighter green mixed with the Winsor Green Blue shade and Quinacridone Gold the consistency of heavy cream
  • Puddle of a darker green mixed with the Winsor Green Blue Shade, Quinacridone Gold, a little Royal Blue, and little Quinacridone Burnt Orange the consistency of heavy cream
  • Puddles of browns in various shades mixed with the Royal Blue and Quinacridone Burnt Orange the consistency of heavy cream

Next, I wet the entire background except for the pinecones and painted in a wash of the cerulean blue.

Laying in the cerulean background wash
© Annie Glacken

I let this sit for a minute until it wasn’t as shiny, but still wet, and spattered in some water to help create snow. Then, while it was still wet, I painted in the branches with a thicker mix of the brown. Because the paint was thicker, it didn’t spread out too far into the background wash.

Painting in the branch in background wet into wet
© Annie Glacken

Next, I began painting in the needles using the two different mixes of green.

Painting in branches and needles wet into wet
© Annie Glacken

Since the paper was wet when I added the browns and greens, I was able to create a soft, diffused look pushing the branches into the background. Once it was dry, you could see where I had spattered water into the background to create a snowy look.

It was now time to begin painting the pine cones. I did this in about five layers using different values and colors of the brown. Sometimes, I would use more of the quinacridone burnt orange making a reddish-brown; other times I would push it toward a deeper burnt umber looking brown by using more of the royal blue, and at times I would mix a grayish brown by using fairly equal amounts of the royal blue and quinacridone burnt orange. Here are photos of the layers:

First layer painted onto the pine cones
© Annie Glacken

2nd layer on pine cones
© Annie Glacken

3rd layer of pine cones
© Annie Glacken

4th layer on pine cones
© Annie Glacken

Last layer on the pine cones
© Annie Glacken

Once the pine cones were finished, I added some more distinct needles to the branch in the foreground using my different mixes of green.

Adding needles to branch in foreground
© Annie Glacken

Finally, I removed the frisket and added additional “snow,”  using the titanium white gouache, to the tips of the pinecones, top of the foreground branch, and spattered some into the background.

Adding “snow” with white
© Annie Glacken

I am really happy with the way this little painting turned out. I love the contrast of the hard edges in the focal point with the soft edges in the background!

“Snowy Pine Cones”
© Annie Glacken

This 6″ x 9″ original watercolor painting is available for the price $70 plus tax.  It was painted on 140 lb. coldpress watercolor paper and has four deckled edges.  Color on the computer monitor may be slightly different than the original.  If interested, please use the contact page from the menu above and I will be happy to answer any questions.

As always, the images in these posts are copyrighted. Thanks!


10 Replies to “Painting Pine Cones”

  1. This is a wonderful painting! Thank you for your continued detailed step-by-step tutorials. They are so helpful and easy to follow. I enjoy your blog so much!! Have a Blessed day!

    • Thank you so much Edwina for the encouraging comment. This was a very fun subject to paint. I hope you have a blessed day as well.

  2. Beautiful winter scene ! I follow Maria Raczynska on youtube too and I’m impressed by her talent. You render differently the pine cones but this painting is quite poetic too. Great !

    • Hi Laurence! I like what you said that my painting is quite poetic–what a nice comment! Thank you very much! I just recently came across Maria’s Youtube videos and like the looseness of her work.

  3. Beautiful! I have tried to draw a pinecone many times but it always looks awful. Now that I have seen this, I understand better. I am going to give it a try as soon as I get my Christmas tree decorated today!

    • Thank you so much! I wish you success with your next pinecone! Let me know how it goes! Thanks for the comment!

    • Thanks Robin! I really like the texture spattering water and paint give you. I hope you have a very successful Open Studio Party this Saturday!

  4. This turned out so beautiful, Annie! ❤️ I struggle with painting (and drawing) pinecones so I enjoyed your progress photos. 😊

    • Thank you Jill. I know what you mean–I think the hardest part is sketching them! Thanks for commenting!