How To Paint An Ornament With Blurry Lights
This is a very easy painting that can be customized with different colors and words on the ornament! It reminds me of the “Charlie Brown Christmas Tree”, although I wasn’t think about it when I was designing this tutorial! You can also try the design with a black background and substitute the yellow lights with color lights instead! Just follow the steps exactly but paint the background black and add do the lights in different colors.
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- 16″ x 20″ canvas(any size will work for this design!)
- Acrylic Paint (I used Liquitex Basics for this) (If you’re using a different brand of paints, check out my conversion chart here)
- Paint Colors:
- Neutral Gray (or any shade of gray that you have handy!)
- Titanium White
- Cad Yellow Light (or any shade of yellow)
- Cad Red Medium
- Mars Black
- Burnt Umber (Dark Brown)
- Deep Green Permanent
- Navy Blue (mix a TINY bit of black with phthalo blue)
- 3/4″ wash
- #4 Bright
- #0 Round
- #10/0 Liner
- Optional: filbert brush if you aren’t using pouncers to paint the circles
- Paper plate for tracing circle (smaller circle if you’re using a smaller canvas). I used a 9″ plate.
- Optional Paint Pen (These are great to use if you don’t have a steady hand when painting letters with a tiny brush!)
- Optional: Martha Stewart Pouncers (I originally did the circles with a filbert but find that these pouncers work great for painting bokeh!)
Directions At A Glance:
Step By Step Directions:
1. Trace a large paper plate on the lower right corner of the canvas.
First I traced a standard size paper plate on my canvas LIGHTLY with a pencil. This is only a reference for now because I want to leave most of this area white. Of course if you’re using a smaller canvas, use a smaller circle.
2. Paint the background gray.
Then I painted my entire canvas with a 3/4″ Wash Brush and a “wash” of gray using only up and down strokes. A wash is water mixed with the paint. I wanted some color inconsistency in the background as well. Also, don’t worry about keeping that circle perfect! The gray inside the circle is to our advantage when it comes time to “shade” the ornament.
3. Paint circles in the background (aka “Bokeh” lights).
There’s a couple ways you can do this. When I originally did this painting in 2017, I used a “filbert brush” and stamped the brush on its side and turned the brush while the bristles formed a circle. I used the colors: cadmium yellow light and white. I dipped the brush in varying amounts and even some colors slightly watered down. You can also use these Martha Stewart Pouncers to paint the circles. Simply dip the pouncers in a combo of the cadmium yellow light and titanium white (various amounts). Press firmly with the pouncer and twist. Try to get the circles to overlap each other in clusters as well. To make some blurry, you can add a bit of water to the paint.
4. Then I traced that circle again with chalk!
Likely, you painted over a lot of that circle. Trace the circle again so that we can completely see it.
5. Paint the circle “cadmium red medium”.
I used “cad red medium” to paint the entire ornament. Any color works for this!!! To “cut in”, use a #4 bright brush. Try to make your strokes go in a circle. You can switch to the 3/4″ flat when painting the large area in.
6. Paint the top of the ornament.
7. Paint the pine needles.
Paint the pine needles all the way from the left of the brush going to the end of the canvas. Use the colors: deep green permanent and white. Also use a #0 round brush for the larger needles and a 10/0 liner for the smaller needles. Note: in the video, I think I used a flat brush. You can do that as well! Sometimes techniques can be achieved the same way using different brushes. Also, double load the brush in both the deep green permanent and titanium white.
8. Paint the string.
Then I painted the string that goes around the branch using a flat brush (#4 bright). You can also use a round brush to paint this string. I added some highlight with white paint.
9. Paint a shadow on the left of the ornament.
Next I used *navy blue paint to start the “shading” of the ornament. This was done using the #4 Bright. You can mix a tiny bit of black into phthalo blue to make navy blue OR just use phthalo blue as it is a very dark blue.
I outlined the entire ornament (lightly, very very thin line). Then the lower left part of the circle was a bit thicker.
I blended that navy blue in to the red just a bit. I did this by allowing the navy blue to become dry on my brush and “dry brushing” the shadow out. You can also water down the navy blue a lot and let it blend out. I believe in the video, I watered that paint down. Both techniques work!
10. Paint a white highlight on upper right and lower left.
Next I painted a white highlight on the right. I started with one line and then some “zig-zags”. There is another highlight in the lower left as well! Do this with a #0 brush or #10/0 liner.
11. Paint another shadow on lower right.
I added one more dark area in the lower right with navy blue.
12. Add a word to the ornament.
Finally the lettering! If you’re not into calligraphy (I certainly need practice) then practice on a separate sheet of paper. Find a font you like and a word or phrase you want. After practicing on paper, draw your word or phrase with chalk onto the ornament.
Then use black or another color to paint over the chalk. Use a 10/0 liner for this or a paint pen. Wait for the word to dry before erasing the chalk!