Thursday, January 17, 2013

Happy Tree Painting

Inspiration: I moved into my apartment a couple of years ago and I decorated most of my walls with prints, paintings, and pictures.  However, my bedroom walls remained empty.  I never found anything on my student's budget that I wanted to look at every morning when I woke up and every night before I went to bed.  Then one day, I saw a painting of a tree online.  The background of the tree was four different panels of canvas, each painted in a gradient of a different color.  I thought to myself, I could totally look at something like that every night and each morning.  And so I set out to the craft store to buy some canvas panels, changed into my painting clothes, put on some painting music (I always at listen to Vincent by Don McLean, to try to channel the greats :)).  I was trying to think of something to name the painting, and decided to tribute Bob Ross and name the painting "Happy Tree."
Tree painting found on somewhere on the internet

Note: I have an image of the design I based my painting on to the right.  I think I found it somewhere while poking around facebook, but can't remember where it is and I could not find it tonight.  I apologize to the painter and the person who posted this picture for not giving the appropriate credit. I found something similar here.

How to:
First, buy the appropriate size canvases.  You can find canvases at pretty much any craft store, including Hobby Lobby, Joann's, and Michael's.  I bought five 8 inch by 24 inch canvases, but you could buy however many of whatever size you would like. I did get some funny looks in the store  as I was comparing different sizes by laying 5 canvases on the floor.  I put everything back, it was fine.  :)  You can also buy acrylic paints and brushes at the craft store, if you do not have those.

Then paint each panel in a gradient (lighter at one end, darker at the other).  I first mixed up my light color of paint, painted a few inches with it, and then added the darker shade into my paint mixture a little bit at a time while painting the rest of the canvas, until I got to the appropriate color by the other end.  You can see the colors I chose in the images on the left.

Once all the panels are painted and have dried, it is time to paint the tree.  I used a brown paint with a little black mixed in.  I added a little water to my paint to ensure that it spread easily.  I started with the tree trunk and then branched out.  I really like spirals so I made the ends of my branches spiral.  Along with the branches, I also added roots to the base of the tree.

Now it was decision time.  Part of me really liked the simplicity of the painting as is with just the background panels and the tree "skeleton" in the foreground.  It was really pretty.  However, I did not want to "leaf" anything out and the painting just felt incomplete.  So I decided to take the plunge and add the leaves.

On the green and blue panels, I added green and blue leaves.  I tried to make a gradient-like swirl for each leaf, to give it a bit of dimension.  I did that by dabbing a light color and a dark color side by side and dipping the brush into both colors.  Then I painted them by moving my brush in a circle.  I did this until I was happy with the amount and colors on the blue and green panels.  I also added some leaves on the "ground."

I moved onto the orange panel (far right) and pink panel (far left).  For these, I used the warm colors of orange, red, and yellow for the leaves.  Finally, I had one last decision, what colors to make the leaves in the middle purple panel.  I decided to use every leaf color I used on the other panels in the middle.  It made me happy to be so colorful!

I love the final result and cannot wait to hang it up in my bedroom.  Hopefully it will make me happy for years to come, and I hope if you attempt to recreate this, that it makes you happy too!  After all, as Bob Ross said, "Every day is a good day when you paint!"  And finally, I am going to include a video of Bob Ross for inspiration!

"Happy Tree" - the final product


  1. Not too shabby- still, I got no love for Bob Ross- I remember he'd always talk to you while he painted, "How's yours looking there at home?" Well, "mine looks like shit Bob!" Sorry for ranting about BR on your blog, dope trees!

    1. I never actually tried to paint to Bob Ross but I want to get some friends together and try to paint from one of his episodes and see how far from his paintings our actually end up. :) However, he did have a soothing voice that was perfect for naps!