Recently, I've enjoyed focusing on watercolor painting, especially floral paintings. Eventually, I realized I was defaulting to painting the same "roses with a bunch of green leaves", though. While that's pretty, it didn't feel particularly exciting or challenging... So, I decided to challenge myself to two weeks of something different! Specifically, practicing a new leaf or flower every day - and along the way I learned how to make quick videos, how to edit them in iMovie, and how to share them on Instagram and YouTube! That's a lot of new skills packed into a short amount of time.
Sharing these on Instagram was really, truly fun and exciting. I loved getting to interact with those who commented or asked questions, and it was something all new for me. However, as a more permanent place to house and share these videos, I thought I'd post a small collection of them at a time here, along with any particular tips and supply notes that might be helpful.
For the first set, I focused on leaves & foliage. They may not be the star of most paintings, but they can add depth, color, and influence the composition. Let's get started! (To read about what supplies I used, just scroll down to the end of the post).
Maidenhair fern is fun to paint, because I enjoy the variation between all of those little leaves hanging off the center stem. The trick is using a small round brush and creating the leaves by holding the brush horizontal and flat against the paper. Adding a little bit of darker green or more yellow occasionally creates the actual variation in the leaves. The stem is this little, crooked, charcoal-colored line that adds contrast at the end.
Silver Dollar Eucalyptus
This is a favorite of mine! The leaves have this silvery-blue tinge, making them a little opaque and flat-looking, and the stems add some richness with the darker brown. Adding the stems last, while the leaves are still wet, lets just a little bit of it creep into the blue-green. Don't forget the little notch at the top of each leaf, that adds some character!
I wanted to practice rose leaves, simply because they're... well, practical. When you paint a lot of roses, rose leaves just make sense. Creating the serrated edge can be tricky, without the leaves ending up too big or an odd shape. Eventually I got the hang of making a smaller oval, and then dragging some paint up along the sides to create the little points. There is a huge variety of rose leaves, so it's one to experiment with!
Ginkgo biloba leaves had a big moment in apparel and textile design a few years ago. At first, I didn't quite get it, but after studying them a little more closely I can see the appeal of their unique shape. Drawing out the edges with the brush first, then adding the thinner, fluttery sides worked the best to capture that feeling. Leaving a few little highlights where the white of the paper shows through adds some shine.
Man, these were hard to get the hang of at first, and now I can't stop painting them! If you google hosta leaf, you see there are so many varieties and colors! Some have a lot of contrast, and some have surprising color combos. I've been painting these by creating the outline with my brush using the lighter color (in this example, a yellow-green), then filling it in by pulling the brush from the middle to the edges, letting thin slices of white paper show through. After I had the shape I wanted, I punched in some of the darker color (a more blue-green) from the middle to the edges. Make sure not to make it too perfect!
Let's talk details! All of these paintings were created using the follow paints, papers, and brushes:
This series has been so much more beneficial for me that I imagined it would be. The support from others has been priceless - I've received so many sweet comments, words of support, and have discovered so many new faces and inspiring people through these connections. Thank you to every single person who has engaged with me and my work!
Are there any botanical or flower studies you most enjoy painting? Do you practice them on their own, or as part of a larger composition?
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