Cherry Blossom Tree Painting

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How to Paint a Cherry Blossom Tree

Sakura means cherry blossom in Japanese. The tree symbolizes life, death and rebirth because the flowers are only fully bloomed for a short amount of time.

This particular painting is of significance to me. I had originally painted it in 2015 and it’s on a much larger canvas hanging in our home. It was the first painting I had done in years and the last painting I would do for two more years…

I probably could elaborate on how life affects artists and why we go through long droughts with the inability to create. Being a mom of very young children is a creative battle in itself! But I’ll save that for another post at a later time!

Any how, the inspiration actually came from the Palo Verde tree we have outside our bedroom window! Instead of pink and white blossoms, this tree of ours gets flooded with yellow blossoms. Not as pretty as a Cherry Blossom tree but I can dream right? There was a full moon one night and from my perspective, looking out our window, this is what I imagined!

In this tutorial you will be tracing a circle for the moon and then blending colors outward from the moon to create a glowing sky. Then you will learn how to paint the actual Cherry Blossom tree.  The flowers themselves are extremely simple and require you only to dot the tip of your paintbrush!

As always, I love to see your work! Please share it in the wonderful collection that is growing on the Pinterest “I Tried It” section of the pin! If you don’t want to share on Pinterest, you can always message me the painting or post it on the Facebook Page!

Enjoy and Happy Painting Artists!

cherry blossom tree painting

Materials:

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  • Acrylic Paint (I recommend the Liquitex Basics brand or Apple Barrel Craft Paint. I did one version of the painting with Liquitex and the other with Craft. Both turned out fine but the color variation varied a bit.)
  • Colors:
    • Dark Blue (Apple barrel “Too Blue” or Liquitex Phthalo Blue)
    • Light Sky Blue (Mix tiny bit of Too Blue or Phthalo blue with White or use Light Blue Permanent)
    • Purple (Apple barrel Purple Iris or Liquitex Brilliant Purple, Deep Violet or Dioxazine Purple )
    • Brown (Nutmeg or Raw Sienna)
    • Black (Mars Black)
    • White (Titanium White)
    • Pink (Medium Magenta or Portrait Pink)
  • 16″ x 20″ Canvas or 8″ x 10″ canvas 
  • Various Brush Sizes:
    • 1″ flat
    • 1/4″ flat
    • angle brush
    • small round
  • Optional sponge or baby wipe to paint moon texture
  • 7″ Plate to trace the moon
  • Water
  • Palette or paper plate for palette
  • Covered work space

 

Directions At A Glance 

cherry blossom tree painting

 

Video

You can also view this video on my YouTube channel!

 

Step By Step Pictures

1. Trace A Circle For The Moon

Trace a circle for the moon. This was a 7″ ceramic plate. Use a pencil and draw lightly.
The moon is traced on my canvas!

 

2. Paint And Blend Moon Rings

You’ll need: a 1″ flat brush, purple & white paint!

About 5 parts white and one parts purple. I am using apple barrel craft paint in this photo. White and Purple Iris.
Mix that white with the tiny bit of purple to create a light purple tint.
Use a 1″ flat brush to paint a ring around the moon. The ring was about the width of my brush.
I then mixed another tint of purple, this time it was darker. About 4 parts white and 3 parts purple.
Paint that ring around the moon. You can try to blend the colors together now or blend them together in the next step.

To blend, I used a wet on wet technique. I cleaned my brush and just added water to the brush. I painted the area where the two rings met. This lets the colors blend IF your paint isn’t dry yet. You can also try using a soft dry brush to blend or blend the colors as you paint. 
If your paint is dry, you can also mix another tint of purple with a color that is in between the two and paint over the area where the rings meet. The video helps with this step!
The third ring was solid purple with no white mixed in it.
I then blended that purple ring.

Note: try not to use TOO much water with acrylic paint when you’re blending! It might not bind to the canvas properly if you add too much water…

3. Paint The Dark Blue Sky

You’ll need a 1″ flat brush and dark blue! I used “Too Blue” from Apple Barrel or Primary Blue/ Phthalo Blue from Liquitex BASICS.

Then I poured myself some darker blue. This was craft paint “too blue”. It’s similar to phthalo blue.
This time I started from the edge of the canvas and painted to the purple. When I got to the purple, I painted over the purple area and got it to blend together.
Make sure your strokes still go in a circle.
Blend the area where the purple and blue meet by painting over with water. If your purple is too dry to blend, then mix blue and purple together. Paint that area over with a blue-purple mix of paint.

 

4. Splatter Some Stars

You will need a 1″ flat brush or tooth brush and white paint!

I used a paint brush dipped in white paint and flicked stars on the canvas. As an alternative, you can use a toothbrush for this step!

 

5. Add Some Texture To The Moon with a Sponge or Baby Wipe

You will need white + blue paint and a sponge or baby wipe.

Mix a very light blue tint. This is about 5 parts white and 2 parts blue.

 

I used a baby wipe to sponge on moon texture. You can use a sponge for this step too but I didn’t have one at the time.
Sponge it all over. Doesn’t have to be consistent. Some areas have more blue sponge texture and some areas have none. It helps to look at  photo of a real moon when you are doing this step and study how the texture looks.
Make sure you leave a lot of white space! If your blue takes over, go back over it and add pure white sponge prints.
To soften some of the sponge prints, I went over LIGHTLY with a wet brush. I painted in kind of circular strokes to get that blue to soften.

 

6. Paint some “asterisks”

You will need white paint and a small round brush.

I know the photography is not great hear! But with a small round brush, I painted little asterisks or “X’s” on the moon.
There is one in the middle and one on the lower right.
I also outlined the entire moon with white and that same small round brush. 

7. Paint The Tree Branches

These photos in this step are from the painting I did with the Liquitex Basics paint. See how the color varies!!

You will need a 1/4″ angle brush or any size flat rush or even a large round brush. You will also need black paint.

I used a 1/4″ angle brush to paint the tree brand. If you don’t have an angle brush, a flat works or even a larger round brush.

Using black, paint a sort of triangular trunk shape in the lower left corner.

Continue that line until it gets thinner.
Paint more branches stemming from the main large branch.

When I paint branches, I like to think that I am painting letter “Y’s” in some areas. Notice that to top is forming the letter Y.
When you use that angle brush, release the pressure on the highest bristle to make the line get thinner.
Take note at the direction of the branches. I’m not covering my moon up. It’s almost as if they are going around the moon or hugging the moon. Keep repeating your branches. Some are starting to get really small!

 

8. Paint Some Highlight & Texture On The Tree

You will need a 1/4″ flat and dark brown paint.

As an option, you can add brown highlight to the right side of the tree. I used burnt sienna here. Or if you’re using craft, and dark brown will be fine. I used a 1/4″ flat brush to do this step.
Here is a closeup of the highlight. I only painted on some areas of the branches on the far right side or the very top.
I also added some texture strokes on the branches and main tree trunk so that it faded to the darker color. Again, totally optional!

 

 

9. Paint The Cherry Blossoms

You will need a small round brush and pink + white paint.

This is the best part! Pour some pink and white on your palette. Don’t mix it all together! Your brush will be double dipping.
Use a small round brush to paint dots on the branch tips.
Dip your brush in the pink first and paint some pink dots.
Then dip it in the white without rinsing off. This double dipping will make the colors look varied on the canvas!
Not all the dots have to be touching a branch! Also see how the are in clusters. Some of these clusters are going vertical and some are going horizontal.
Remember not to completely cover your moon! Keep going with the blossoms. It’s up to you how many you’d like on your tree! Maybe there are no blossoms at all…up to you!
To make the bigger blossoms, I used the side of my round brush to make a stamp. Four stamps for four petals.
I am double dipping the brush here when I’m making the stamps. I like when my colors mix on the canvas. Who invented that rule anyway about how you can’t mix colors on the canvas?

 

Finished!

The top painting was done with Liquitex Basics and the bottom was done with Apple Barrel Craft. You can see the difference in colors and how well the colors blend together.

cherry blossom tree painting
Cherry blossom tree painting done with Liquitex
cherry blossom tree painting
Cherry Blossom tree painting done with Apple Barrel Craft

 

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8 Replies to “Cherry Blossom Tree Painting”

  1. My daughter wants to have a painting birthday party but we just can’t afrord to do it at a studio with the amount of kids she wants. This will be perfect. I tried it during nap time today. Your directions are so easy to follow and I’m pleased with my final result. Thank you for putting this out there, and especially for making it free. Such a blessing.

    1. Thank you Sarah! I’m so glad you found this website! Good luck with your daughter’s birthday party! I’m sure it will be so much fun painting with all her friends 😊

  2. Thanx alot for your post, it looks soo cool. I’m new in painting and looking for easy but nice tutorials. Definitely going to try this, love your galaxy painting too!

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