Watercolor Christmas Tree Ornaments

Even a beginner can paint these watercolor Christmas tree ornaments of a quiet nativity scene.

Step by Step instructions for watercolor nativity scene

For several decades I have made a different Christmas tree ornament each year. And every year attempt a different media (beads, quilling, sewing etc.) and a different subject (stars, cardinals, candy canes.) So when the good folks at Bas Bleu sent out their new catalog this year with the book, 15 Minute Watercolor Masterpieces by Anna Kolidadych, I thought, "Why not give it a try?" The fact that I've never painted with watercolors - or anything else - shouldn't stop me. Right?

Christmas Tree Watercolor Nativity Ornaments

I'm not sure the author is going to want to take responsibility for my artwork (it IS the first time I have painted with watercolors.) But I do want to give a well-deserved shout out for this book. She begins with the basic techniques of layering, blending, dry brush, etc. And she provides instructions for simple paintings for newbies to practice these techniques. I got all the way to the second section and her project "Galaxy in a Circle" and my decision for the 2022 Christmas ornaments was born. Instead of a galaxy, her directions became the background for the nativity scene.

Watercolor Masterpieces

Materials Needed

Depending on how one chooses to frame their painting, the materials might be different. Here's my list:

Painting the Nativity Scene in Watercolor

Setting Up

Preparing Circles for Paint

Trace circles onto your watercolor paper. Using 5.5 x 8.5 inch paper, I made three circles per page using the rim of a mason jar. I happened to make 10 pages - or 30 circles - but you don't have to be so nutso.

I also set up seven cups of water so I could move quickly through the first few steps.

Watercolor Paint Set Up

Part One: Paint The Background

Steps to Nativity Watercolor Ornament

You will need to move quickly through these first five steps.

Each page was taped to a board. Then I did Step One on all circles on a single page; then put down that brush and did Step Two on all circles on the page, then quickly through all five steps in Part One. The glasses of water and brushes were set up in the order they were used so I only touched each brush once per page.

Then I untaped that page, taped the next page down, and repeated step one to five quickly.

This only takes one to two minutes per page to do all four steps.

Step One: Water

Watercolor On Wet Canvas

Using a larger brush, wet each circle. You need to make it wet enough the paint can spread over the canvas - but you don't want a puddle of water either.

Step Two: Pink & Violet

violet and pink on wet watercolor

Across the middle of the circle, add three quick dots of pink and three dots of violet. The water will cause the paint to spread out.

And right from the start you can see that each of your masterpieces will be unique.

Step Three: Blue

blue on wet watercolor

Quickly paint the entire circle in blue, using large motions. Leave a small area near the middle with no paint. (Apology: the picture above doesn't show a lot of empty space in the middle, but you can see from the picture below how you want to leave a little room for some yellow.)

Step Four: Yellow

yellow on wet watercolor

Add yellow around the pink and violet where there is no paint. (If you put the yellow down in the first step, it would have turned to green when painting with the blue. Hence, it is done after the blue.)

Step Five: Dark Blue

dark blue on wet watercolor

Finally, brush over part of the blue with dark blue (half blue and half black.) Darken the outside of the circle particularly.

Whew! The background is done. Let all the circles dry before going to the next part.

Part Two: Stars in the Sky

splatter paint with white gauche

Use white gauche and a toothbrush to splatter-paint the stars in the sky. (I learned the hard way that you want to do this before the next step - making the ground - otherwise you have stars on the ground.)

Part Three: Black Bottom

black ground

Use black water color paint on the dry canvas for the ground. It should underline the splotches of color in the center. Make the line slightly curved instead of perfectly flat.

I did use the black watercolor from the tube, rather than the dry paint.

Part Four: Nativity

Simple Nativity Sketch

A 20/0 spotter was the smallest watercolor brush I could find at the craft store. A simple nativity sketch was made using black watercolor paint after the previous paint was completely dry. For this, I also used the tube of black watercolor to get the desired thickness. Only a tiny bit of water was used on the brush to make the drawing.

Water Color Nativity Scene in the rough
In the rough - they all are different!

Part Five: Silver and Gold Star

I debated using silver vs gold mica powder; then ended up using both. The silver brought in the background of the silver circle I glued the canvas to, and the gold matched the mason lid rim. You also could use any gold, silver, yellow, or white gauche paint. (I like the metallic effect of the mica powder.)

Here's the basic design of the star using two different colors:

How to Make the Bethlehem Star

  1. Draw a simple cross. The horizontal bar is about one third the way down.
  2. Draw a simple "X" over the cross. The arms are shorter.
  3. It can be in one color or two.

Every One Is Different

Nativity Scenes in Watercolor for beginners
No Two Are Alike!

Framed in its own Shadow-Box

Nativity Watercolor Shadow Box

Crazy glue (or gorilla glue) can be used to glue your masterpiece to almost any surface. I used silver discs found out the craft store in the Christmas ornament section.

I used a mason jar rim as the frame which gave a three-dimensional effect.

On the Tree

Watercolor Nativity Ornament on the Tree

We continued our familly tradition of giving the annual ornament to family and friends. Guests who come to our home can chose the ornament from off the tree. Relatives afar never know what this year's box will hold. After all the ornaments were distributed, one ornament remains on our tree - a reminder of God's Greatest Gift in 2022.

More Christmas Pages For Your Holiday

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Directions for 5 different quilled stars
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Christmas Carol Unit Study
Instructions for beginner ornaments
Christmas Day Activities Christmas Day Planner
Plan how to keep Christ in Christmas
Twelve Days of Christmas Twelve Days of Christmas Activities
Activities to celebrate Dec 12 to Jan 6
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and Andy
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A Christmas Carol Christmas Carol Unit Study
Unit Study of Dicken's great classic

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