How to Paint Pine Needles

Things You'll Need

  • Paintbrushes
  • Canvas or canvas board
  • Paints

A pine tree may seem like an easy subject for a painting, but painting one that looks realistic (and not like a child's Christmas tree) may be more difficult. Details are going to help you with this task, such as painting individual pine needles. Pine needles aren't difficult to paint and will not take a great deal of skill.

Select a photograph to work from. Even though you don't need to make the painting look exactly like the photograph, working from an image of a real tree will give your tree a realistic quality it might otherwise be lacking.

Begin by painting the pine tree itself. Paint the trunk of the pine tree with a long thin brush, or apply the paint in a long slender line with a palette knife. Take the trunk all the way up to the top of the tree. It will get gradually thinner until it is a point at the top. Add a few branches from the base of the tree, but do not concern yourself with adding too many. Add some depth to the trunk by mixing a few darker or lighter shades of brown to the bark, in strips.

Using a quick, wispy outward motion of your brush, paint the greenery around the tree and on the pine branches. Do not worry yet about individual pine needles. If you are working with oil paints, let the painting sit for a little while and allow the paint to dry slightly.

Create individual pine needles with a fine detail brush by painting thin pointed lines of slightly lighter green, radiating outward.

Make the individual pine needles in small clusters that radiate outward from a chosen center. Do not overdo this step.

Add yellow-green highlights to some of the clusters of pine needles, to give depth to the tree.


  • In addition to adding clusters of individual pine needles, items like birds and pine cones will help complete the image.

About the Author

Leslie Rose has been a freelance writer publishing with Demand Studios since 2008. In addition to her work as a writer, she is an accomplished painter and experienced art teacher. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in art with a minor in English.