North Woods Vase Tutorial

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I was recently asked by DecoArt to design and paint something of my own choosing using a Northwoods Christmas theme.  The few stipulations they gave to me were to use an item (the vase) I could purchase at Michale’s Craft Store and to use the DecoArt paints that Michale’s carries in their stores.

The only other thing they required from me was that I write a detailed “how to” project sheet so others could duplicate what I had done.

I normally don’t do this type of tutorial for the products I paint, but because this is an item that I wont be selling my my shop, I thought you, my readers, might like to make a vase like this for yourselves or to give as a gift this holiday season.

I guess you could say that I’m killing two birds with one stone here. Hopefully this blog post it one you will enjoy and if so, maybe I can start doing other ones like it for you if you’re interested. You’ll have to let me know, OK?

North Woods Painted Vase Tutorial

Here are the supplies you’ll need to complete this project:

Ceramic Vase
Rubbing Alcohol
Paper Plates
Sea Sponge
Dish soap and water (to clean paint brushes and sponges between colors)
Paper towels
DecoArt Americana Paint:
     Snow (Titanium) White
     Lamp (Ebony) Black
     Blue Harbor
     Bittersweet Chocolate
     Forest Green
     Festive Green
     Cadmium Yellow
     True Red
     Raw Sienna
Paint brushes:
     1/2″ flat
      #5 Round
      1/4″ flat
      #10/0 script liner

I need to add this disclaimer right up front in the beginning.  I am a self taught artist and have never taken a painting course. Ever. That said, the paint brushes I’ve used may not be the ones that work for you.  These 4 brushes are my “go to” brushes for just about everything I paint.  I always outline with the script liner first and then fill in with the round and flat brushes. It’s just what works for me.  Hopefully they’ll work for you too.  I encourage you to try using whatever brushes you’re most comfortable with.

To start:

**Note – Each paint color will require two coats of paint (except for the sponge coat) and each should be allowed to dry before each new addition.**

-Using the 1/2″ flat brush, paint the entire outside surface or the vase with the rubbing alcohol. This cleans the surface and will prime it for the paint. Allow to dry.
-Using the sea sponge, squeeze some of the white onto the paper plate (always use the paper plate as your paint palette) and proceed to lightly dab the white onto the bottom of the base as the snow. **Note – Sometimes it’s easier to work with the vase upside down depending on what step you’re on. Place your hand inside the vase to make this easier.**
-Follow the same procedure with the blue (cleaning your sponge with water between colors), making sure to bring the color over the lip of the vase as well.

-Squeeze some of the bittersweet chocolate paint onto the paper plate and use the 10/0 script liner to paint on the evergreen branches around the top of the vase.  **Note – Sometimes thinning of the paint works best for fine detail work. To do this, add a few drops of water to the paint and stir to combine.**

-Once again using the script liner and the two shades of green, paint of the evergreen “leaves”. Start with the darker green first. Place your brush next to the stem and quickly, using short’ish strokes, pull your brush making sure to release pressure at the end of each stroke to make them pointy.  Continue with the lighter green color after the dark green color has dried. Adding the two colors will help add depth.

-Next using the #5 round brush (and by turning the vase upside down), paint on the evergreen trees (again using the deeper shade first and then the lighter) making sure to taper towards the top.
-Allow each color to dry and then, using the same brush and the white paint, add the snow tips to each tree.
**Note – I painted the front and back of the vase with the exact same design. You may choose to only paint one side. It’s totally your call.**

-Using the 10/0 script liner and the true red paint, add the berries onto the evergreen branches in random areas.
-Using the script liner and the raw sienna paint, outline your log cabin.
-Using the #5 round brush, or the 1/4″ flat brush, fill in the log cabin using the raw sienna paint.

-Using the script liner and the bittersweet chocolate paint (thinned with a great deal of water to make a color wash), use light long strokes to add the texture onto the logs of the cabin.

-Using the fawn paint and the script liner, add the “mortar” in between each log.
-Add the detail to the cabin using the liner brush and the 1/4″ flat brush as needed. Feel free to add whatever detail you wish. I added a window and door using the bittersweet chocolate paint and the cadmium yellow.

-Add the roof by using the liner brush and by filling it in with the 1/4″ flat brush. I used the bittersweet chocolate and the black for the added detail.
-Using the #5 round brush, paint circles at the corners of your cabin to depict a cut log.
-Using the same thinned bittersweet chocolate paint  you used to add the lines on the logs, make some markings on the fawn circles like age marks of a cut tree.


-Blend a little of the white and black paint to make a few different shades of gray (this is not a book reference) LOL and paint on the stone chimney of the cabin. 
-Add the snow to the top of the chimney and the roof of the cabin
 -Using the script liner, add the tiny lights onto the cabin roof line (alternating the multi-colors) and using thinned black paint, add the wire between each light.
-Add a wreath if desired…and a black bear…grrrrr.
-Thin some of the blue harbor paint with water (to make a light color wash) and using the #5 round brush, add some blue shadows to the snow on the trees, roof and the base of the cabin and bear. 
-Lastly, turn the vase upside down and using the script liner and the black paint, randomly add some bare branched trees to accent and complete your vase.
There you have it.  I don’t claim to be any sort of a painting teacher so I hope, even with the limited instructions I’ve given you, this may be something you choose to try for yourself. I’d love to hear your comments and or suggestions too.  Maybe if this post proves to be popular, I’ll do more and more painting tutorials and, with practice, they’ll become even better and more instructional.  I’d love to inspire you to try your own hand at painting.  
Until that time, I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing this vase come to life.  Thanks for visiting!!! Please come again.
Painted North Woods Vase
Until we craft again,


  1. Love your work! Have been following your work when you were cookie-ing..:D Although at times i wish i see your cookies again, i never fail to admire all your beautiful painted creations on vases and glasses and tiles! 😀

  2. Beautiful, you are so talented. Beautifully done!

  3. This is beautiful! I only wish I could handle paint brushes as skillfully as you do and could paint such wonderful scenes as this. What a lovely seasonal accent piece you have created here. I'm sure you will be listing these in your shop soon 🙂

  4. awesome!! You're so good!!! LOVE seeing all your posts!

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