Hello again, my friend! I’m still running behind on my Christmas cards. I got the ones I had made sent out, but now I need to create that many more, to send! I hope your progress is going faster than mine. Of course, if I didn’t get distracted with new things to try, I might be done. Like today’s share, which I’m calling Birch Trees in Winter. Because I can be literal, sometimes! I took my inspiration (basically, I tried to copy) the work called Birch Trees on Black Tile by Sandy Sandy, a wonderful alcohol ink artist. You can find her blog HERE, full of inspiration, classes and more.
BIRCH TREES IN WINTER
Sandy did her trees on black tile, but I didn’t have a black tile. So I substituted the tile for black Ranger Alcohol Ink paper. The biggest difference is that the ink doesn’t flow as quickly or smoothly as on tile. The other difference to note is that on tile, you can ‘wipe back’ or completely remove the alcohol ink with isopropyl alcohol (91% or higher), but it doesn’t work on the paper. Also, the black paper is not just black coloured Yupo; it is not slick, but has a bit of a ‘matte’ finish feeling to it. These are things to keep in mind, when you’re choosing a substrate/base to work on.
Using a black coloured base is much easier than painting the entire background black, and then painting white on top!
To start, there’s only a few supplies needed. You’ll need alcohol inks in Ranger Snowcap, Pebble and Slate, and the 5″ x 7″ Ranger Alcohol Ink Cardstock in black. Also, you’ll use Alcohol Blending Solution, a Posca white paint pen, a black Sharpie marker and #2 or #6 rounded brush, a paint palette, and canned air, which is optional.
First, create your snowy hills by applying some blending solution and Snowcap ink onto the bottom of the black alcohol ink cardstock. Use the canned air to blow the ink & blending solution together, to cover the bottom. Add more ink & blending solution as needed; it’s easier to add the ink in the ‘hill shape’, and then blow it downwards. I use a brush afterwards to get tidy up the shape and pull the ink right to the edges. At the top of the panel, add some blending solution and a bit of Snowcap; blow with the canned air to create a cloud effect. If you don’t have the canned air, you can use your brush for the process.
In your paint palette, add some Snowcap ink, and very little blending solution. Dampen your brush in the blending solution first, and then pick up the Snowcap ink. Create your 3 trees using the brush, picking up more ink and blending solution as you go along. Add as many branches as you want to each tree. I admit – my front tree is bending a bit too much! Good thing it’s not real life, or I think it would fall down soon. On the other hand, no tree grows perfectly straight, so keep that in mind too, when painting yours.
ADDING THE DETAILS
Once you have your trees in place, you want to add the birch bark and shading. Start with the black Sharpie marker, and add the bark markings on the trees. Remember – they’re not symmetrical in real life, so don’t try and make them nice and even! Work on one tree at a time. Once you have the black marks on, dampen your brush very lightly with the Blending Solution, and lightly blend & soften the black marks, for a more realistic look.
Next, you want to make your tree more dimensional; not just flat. Add some Slate alcohol ink, which is a gray/brown, into your palette. Add in some Blending Solution to lighten the colour, and then add the Pebble on the left & right edges of the trees, to create shadow. Consider your light source; my light is coming from the left, so the right side of each tree is more shaded than the left. To add some warmth to the trees, add a touch of Pebble alcohol ink mixed with Blending Solution to them.
To add any highlights to the trees, texture to the snow, and snowflakes to the background, use the Posca white paint pen. The paint pen will sit on top of the alcohol ink, rather than be absorbed into it. Around the bottom of the trees, I also added some bushes, drawing the stems with the brush, and then ‘pouncing’ some Snowcap ink with the tip of the brush.
I’m looking forward to practicing this again! I think it’s not bad for a first try. The changes I’ll make next time is to have thinner trees, and the front one less ‘leaning’. Of course, my shading and colouring needs work too – we never stop improving, right?!
If you’d like to give this a try, I’ve included links below for the supplies, where possible. For the canned/compressed air, it’s available at most department stores or computer stores (used for blowing dust out of small areas). Thanks for giving my winter Birch trees a look today!
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