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 tutorial will teach you how to paint a Cherry Blossom Tree with acrylics on canvas. It is for the absolute beginner and it is one of my first tutorials that was published on this website!
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!
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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.)
- Phthalo Blue (Apple barrel “Too Blue”)
- Light Blue Permanent (Apple barrel Mix tiny bit of Too Blue with White)
- Dioxazine Purple (Apple barrel Purple Iris)
- Burnt Sienna (Nutmeg)
- Mars Black (Black)
- Titanium White (White)
- Portrait Pink (Medium Magenta)
- 16″ x 20″ Canvas or 8″ x 10″ canvas
- Various Brush Sizes:
- 1″ flat (or 3/4″ flat)
- 1/4″ flat (#4 Bright)
- angle brush (1/2″ angle)
- small round
- Optional sponge or baby wipe to paint moon texture
- 7″ Plate to trace the moon
- Palette or paper plate for palette
- Covered work space
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 in the upper right hand corner.
2. Paint And Blend Moon Rings
You’ll need: a 1″ flat brush (or similar size), purple & white paint. Put about 5 parts white and 1 part purple onto the palette. For demonstration, I am using the Apple Barrel Paint in the photos.
Mix that white with the tiny bit of purple to create a light purple tint. This purple should be VERY light. If it’s not light, add some more white into the paint.
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 (or just make a tint of purple that is slightly darker than your first purple ring).
Paint that ring around the moon. You can try to blend the colors together now by painting over the lighter ring and letting them blend on the canvas 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. OR you can mix and in between purple shade and blend that into the colors.
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. Rinse off your brush all the way and paint just purple not mixed with white.
I then blended that purple ring.
3. Paint The Dark Blue Sky
You’ll need a 1″ flat brush and dark blue! I used “Too Blue” from Apple Barrel or Phthalo Blue from Liquitex BASICS. Basically paint the rest of the area in with the Phthalo Blue making sure you are still going in a circle form around the moon. Blend that dark blue in with the purple.
4. Splatter Some Stars
You will need a 1″ flat brush or tooth brush and white paint! Splatter the white paint onto the canvas to create stars.
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 1-2 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. Dab on the texture inconsistently around the moon. Some areas are darker some are lighter. It helps to look at an image of a real moon to observe 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. You can also soften with a soft mop brush or soft round brush that is not wet.
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.
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. 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.
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.