How I Painted a Watercolor Nurse Log

IllustrationBrigida SwansonComment

In planning new designs for upcoming holiday cards, I decided to create one inspired by Yule logs. Being from the Pacific Northwest, though, I put a more temperate rainforest take on the idea by creating a winter-inspired nurse log, a fallen tree that serves as a nursery for new plant life.

I started out by sketching my idea, using photos of mossy rainforests in Washington for inspiration.

I painted a base coat of watercolor for the log, leaving it pretty light since I knew I was going to layer a lot of fine details on top.

Then I started to paint thin lines to create the effect of wood grain on the bark and cut edge. This took a while to do, but was very relaxing in its repetition! 

After the wood details were complete, I painted textural moss growing on top of the bark.

I added baby plants and fungi growing out of the nurse log.

I added red caps to the mushrooms and a tiny evergreen tree to give the painting a subtle Christmas effect, while remaining true to Pacific Northwest forest life.

And there you have it! The nurse log/Yule log is complete and ready for text.