Learn how to Paint a Spring Path using the Art of Not Blending Paint Colors

In this easy-to-follow acrylic painting tutorial, I am painting a beautiful spring path to celebrate the upcoming season. You will learn one of my favorite painting techniques for adding lots of texture to my paintings, the art of not blending paint colors.

Years ago, my business began as a local paint party business. One of my best-selling classes was my Autumn Road painting because of its bold brushstrokes of color. I love this painting so much that I created a new version in all my favorite colors of spring and I wanted to share the lesson with you today.

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Christie's art table Spring Path_The Social Easel

Materials Mentioned

Paint the Background and Sky

The first step in this lesson is to paint the blue sky background. Even though you barely see the sky in the completed painting, all other elements will be layered over this.

Plan the general location of your horizon line. Where will the ground meet the sky in your background? Loosely create a line with your paint. Mine is about one-third of the way up the canvas. Then I give myself another guideline around where I will stop adding all the colorful tree leaves. These lines can always change a bit.

To paint the background, I suggest using a couple of blue colors and some white and my special painting technique, The Art of Not Blending. 

the art of not blending paint colors Spring Path_The Social Easel

It’s no secret that I love lots of texture in my paintings! One of the ways I achieve that is with that technique. In The Art of Not Blending, I use multiple tones of colors instead of one and not blend them on my painting surface too much, leaving visible brush strokes. 

Dip your brush into your blue and white paint without mixing the colors on your brush too much. You can also alternate colors each time you load your brush. 

Then use disconnected criss-cross like brush strokes to apply the paint to the surface, making sure to lift your brush off of the canvas with each short stroke. 

Messily overlap the guidelines as you paint the middle third of your canvas. As you work your way into the center, lighten your paint. 

Paint the Ground

After you have finished painting the background area, smooth out the horizon line by pulling green paint across the base of the sky area. The touch of blue paint blending with the green tones it down some and creates a shadow and gives the appearance that the area is further away. 

Roughly paint an outline for where the pathway will be. Starting at the back where your sky is its lightest and widening the lines as they curve forward. Just like the guidelines in step one, these will be hidden under colorful layers of paint. As you fill in your grass, add white paint the closer you get to the bottom of the canvas so that it appears closer.

the art of not blending paint colors Spring Path_ The Social Easel

Don’t continue to add to your wet paint if you aren’t getting opaque coverage. If you do, you could end up with a gloppy mess. With acrylic paint, it is best to use thin layers, let it dry, and then if you need to, you can go in with a second coat. 

Next, paint the spring path with a light brown, using quick, connected horizontal strokes, slightly pulling the green and brown paint into each other.

Paint the Spring Path Trees

As the ground dries, it’s time to add the first layers of paint to the treetops. For this, we will use The Art of Not Blending. 

First, I cover the remainder of my canvas in loose brushstrokes of greens. 

How to paint straight tree lines Spring Path_The Social Easel (1)

As the green dries, take that time to add a second coat of paint to the ground. I like to pull in a bit my tree colors here and there to look like reflections of the leaves and some blues to act as shadows. Just make sure not to make a pattern.

Now that all of the canvas has some paint on it, we can paint the tree trunks. 

A few years ago, I used to paint a version of this painting in my in-person paint nights. I noticed that many of my students’ trees would start to lean out away from the path. I realized that something from the perspective of the path and change in depth from near to far threw them off, and they didn’t even know it! 

painting the Spring Path upside down_The Social Easel

So, I flipped the canvas upside down! That simple change prevented us from painting what we thought we should be. And pulling the lines down kept the tree trunks lining the pathway straight. Try this out in your mixed media pad! 

How to paint a tree lined pathway Spring Path_The Social Easel

Start painting the trunks furthest away, all the way at the back of the path. Use a light hand to keep the line thin. The further the tree is, the thinner and closer together the trunks will be. 

Work your way down the path, thickening your trucks as they get closer to your foreground.

How to paint the Spring Path_The Social Easel

Flip your canvas right side up and stagger more trees in the grassy area. Have fun with it! I like one big one right up front going from the top of the page to the bottom. This one gets a few branches too. 

As you paint your tree trunks, play with the lighting of your composition by adding shadows and highlights. 

Learn more about adding dimension to your trees and artwork here.

Spring Path colorful foreground_The Social Easel

The details of this painting are in the shadows and highlights.

Finally, it is time to add all those spring colors to your treetops! Use the Art of Not Blending to add your paint in layers. I start at the bottom of the leaves and work my way up. Make sure to leave some of the green exposed and have the colorful brush strokes marks become less dense as you get closer to the top. 

Spring Path_The Social Easel

Pink is my primary tree color. I start with my base pink tone, then once I have all of that in place, I lightened it with white and added more. Remember to make the center near the back of the path a little lighter.

Near the top, I placed some purples and blues as accents, all while not blending the paint colors on the canvas. This is your forest, if you like the green, make yours green!

Watch the full Spring Path painting tutorial here!

Everyone’s path is different, so make your Spring Path painting your own.

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