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When I found out my youngest son Kolton was a boy, I knew I wanted to do the nursery in a woodland/Aztec theme with a statement wall of white birch trees. I looked at decals, but they were SO expensive and not exactly the look I wanted. So my pregnant self recruited my artistic sister and husband to paint them instead!
It was an easy process, and did not require any specific artistic talent. The only materials you will need are: 2 colors of paint,Painter’s Tape,Small Sized Paint Rollers like these, and a couple of small paint brushes for the details.
Step 1: Choose your background color.
We started with a navy blue wall and I chose a deep blue to look like a night sky. Make sure you have extra of this color, because you will use it for the details and touch ups in the last step. For the birch trees, we went with a icy white. We used matte paint for both.
Step 2: Tape off your tree trunks.
We taped off the birch tree trunks, using different widths so that they would appear random. In order to keep them from going crooked on the wall, we checked each tape line with a level periodically, and measured the spaces between the tape at both the top and bottom of the wall. The tape lines should not be perfectly straight, allow little curves in the tape so that your lines do not appear too hard. Don’t forget the pattern of tree, space, tree space, etc. step back periodically to check you width and spacing and to see the big picture.
Step 3: Paint your birch tree trunks
For this step, we used a small roller brush to paint the trunks. I did not want the trunks to be a solid, thick white because I did not want them to look like decals. We only applied one coat of paint to the trunks. This allowed the blue to show through ever so slightly, giving the perfect shadowy, textured look to the trees. Don’t forget your spaces between the trees, you do NOT want to paint them white!
Step 4: Add your branches
Once the trunks have dried, begin adding branches. Thicker birch trees should have thicker branches, thinner trees should have thinner branches. We made some that went in front/behind one or two trees, and others that were shorter stumpy looking branches. For the longer branches, we used tape as an original guide, and then went back over the edges after the tape was removed to give them a more natural “bumpy” look. Where the branches connect to the trunk, make sure to fan the branches out wider, adding a curve to the bottom of the branch into the trunk. Make sure you angles are varied and you have a good combination of short and long, skinny and fat branches. Start with less than you think you might want because you can always add more. Again, it is important to step back and see the big picture periodically so that you can see what sizes you need in particular spaces.
Step 5: Add the details to the birch trees
My husband actually started this step while my sister was still working on branches. Using your blue color and your small brush, dap on rough, uneven lines of varying widths and lengths in groups of two or three. Most of the lines should go right through the edge of the birch tree, connecting with your blue background, but the occasional centered line works too. Adding lines that follow the curve of the branches where they connect to the trunks also give them dimension.
To make the knots, dab on an oval along the edge of a trunk in blue, with about 3/4 of the oval overlapping the white trunk. Then, take the white and dab on a line around the outside edges of the oval, connecting it back in with the tree. Add a couple of blue broken lines around the inside of the oval for dimension.
That’s it! Once you get going on the branches and get a feel for which look good, it comes natural. If you make a mistake or something doesn’t look quite right, it is so easy to fix – just paint over it. We are not artists, and I promise that any skill level can achieve these beautiful birch trees.
We will be doing the same DIY birch tree mural in Kolton’s room at our new house when we can fit it into our busy to-do list. I will be sure to update the pictures when we are finished. I would be happy to answer questions in the comments, and if you give it a try please show me your photos!