Van Gogh's Cypresses - Paint with Me

How to paint Cypresses

Cypresses Video Transcript

Plein Air

Kat: Hey Princess Latte, I see you’re painting one of Van Gogh’s Cypresses today.
Princess Latte: Yeah!
Kat: He sure did put those in a lot of his paintings.
Princess Latte: Yeah, cypresses were some of Van Gogh’s favorite subjects to work with. He really liked the way they stood out against the bright skies. He found them really challenging.
Kat: Well, it sure is beautiful. Did he paint that from memory in his hospital room?
Princess Latte: No, actually he got special permission from the hospital to go out and paint it while on walks.
Kat: So, he painted en plein air.
Princess Latte: Yeah.
Kat: Have you ever painted en plein air?
Princess Latte: You know, I've tried in the past, but I just really can't get into it. I’m really squeamish. I don’t like dealing with bugs in the paint.
Kat: I’ve never even thought about bugs in the paint, that’s so gross.
Princess Latte: Yeah, but you know, on second thought, maybe that’s where Van Gogh gets a lot of his interesting textures from.


Hey, so for today's video you’ll be needing:

  1. A Coloring page, which you can download from the link below.
  2. You can paint right on top of the coloring page, however I think it’s a little bit easier to paint from a canvas. However if you’re using the canvas, feel free to follow along with the tutorial on how to do an image transfer.
  3. Aside from that, you’ll be needing paints. I just got this set of acrylic paints at a local art store.
  4. And don’t forget to bring your creativity.

How To Paint Van Gogh's Cypresses

First, I’m going to mix the base for the blue sky. It takes me a bit of trying different things - adding a little bit of yellow, a little bit of white, adding more blue, and then adding a pinch of red - to get just the right color for the sky. Just keep trying until you get a blue that looks like the painting, but don’t add too much yellow or red. You might not be able to get that blue easily again.

Once you’re happy with your blue, paint in the top part of the sky above the swirling clouds. I decide partway through that I want this to be a little lighter and more blue, so I added blue and white to my mix. But it looks good with the dark up in the corner and becoming light as it goes down, doesn’t it? There are a lot of colors in this sky, so if you have to make your blues again and they don’t exactly match, it won’t be noticeable in the end.

After I finish laying down the blue, I create a similar blue with less yellow in it and add patches of it to the sky. It’s time to paint in the moon with yellow. I add a little bit of red to get the color I think it should be. And when we the paint the sky around the moon, I create a lighter blue - a blue like the wind or swirling clouds. I use this afterwards to create swirls in the rest of the sky.

With white and yellow we can then create the base color for the clouds just above the horizon. The color we end up making looks a lot like parchment. After laying down your base make a darker version with yellow and white and add patches around the clouds like I’m doing. Some of it swirls, but much of it is dabbed on like fluffy clouds I finish on the right with a bit lighter version that has just a pinch of blue in it and then by adding a little more of this dark color.

Now the blue at the top should have dried a bit, so we can use this color to add clouds. These clouds are thin, wispy, not very traditional. Imagine that you are painting the wind. After that, we mix some blue to go down in the clouds. This blue is very light and without any yellow. We will also use it to add different colors to the swirling clouds in the darker blue above. To finish the first layer of the sky, I am going to mix more of that very first shade of blue we used and pull it down into the clouds.

The sky is done, so let’s start on the cypresses. First I’ll mix our darkest green. After that, we’ll make a lighter green by mixing this color with yellow and start working it into the trees. It blends in a lot since this area is not dry. When I take my small brush and add thick dots of color, though, you begin to see them.

We’ll leave that to dry for a bit and mix the blue for the hills and the horizon. Let’s start with the dark blue line at the bottom of our clouds.We’ll use the same color but thinner to fill in the hills. Then add a bit of green.

With a lighter green, we can fill in the grass below. Add some dark green like in the cypresses near the bottom of the painting. Then I take a medium green and blend upwards. It’s gotten pretty dark now so let’s mix some brighter greens with yellow and white.

It’s blending in a lot more than I want it to. So I’m going to call it a day with this painting and put it aside to dry - maybe just a day or so. Once it’s dried we can layer on lighter colors.

One Day Later

With white, yellow, and a hint of green, we’re going to add more clouds to the sky. Then add more yellow to make it like the sun is reflecting off the clouds. The clouds right above the horizon line are getting a little too thick, I add in some blue to reshape them. Then a hint more of blue. There! The clouds are really shaping up. Now let’s mix some pink. The pink in this painting really sets the other colors off and makes it feel like twilight. Continue with these colors until the shaping is just right.

Down to the hills, we’re going to add some light blue. I’ll take some lighter greens and give the cypresses some texture to match the sky with lighter greens. I want to make a color that is very yellow. Continue working on the texture you want with white and green. Let’s finish up the cypresses with some white dots. Next, we’ll start with that dark green - something similar to what we did with the cypresses. Then, take a little dark green and add it to the hills. I’m making the grass section much lighter with light greens and yellows. Finish by adding some yellow to your clouds.

And there, we’ve finished Van Gogh’s cypresses! What an amazing painting.

Negative Space

Mmm. It looks really nice against the wall, doesn’t it? This time I tried a black border around it just to see how it framed the painting. However, there’s still a lot of negative space, isn’t there. I guess we have more painting to do.

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