Wednesday, November 23, 2016

How to Paint Fall Leaves

Forest Floor
Watercolor painting
16" x 20"

The painting above titled “Forest Floor” is a watercolor painting of various colors and species of leaves.  My reference material for this painting was a photo of the leaves laying on a trail in the Great Smoky Mountains which was taken during a recent hike. 
Tip:  To paint successful leaves, go outside in your yard or a park and pick up several leaves to view when painting for assistance with the veins, stems, coloration, etc.

Supplies Needed:
Watercolor paper (I used Arches 140 lb. paper – 9” x 12” size)
Watercolor board
Masking tape to anchor paper
  • Round brush – your choice of size
  • Liner brush or script brush
Paint:  colors of your choice.  I used the following in the painting above:

  • Yellow Ochre
  • Burnt Umber
  • Sepia
  • Payne’s Gray
  • Cadmium Red Pale (Light)
  • Crimson
  • Grumbacher Red
  • VanDyke Brown
  • Sap Green
  • Hunter Green
Painting Instructions:
Lightly sketch in the leaves as well as any other items; i.e. sticks, acorns, etc.   that you would like to have as a part of your painting.   
Wet the area round the leaves.  Masking is not necessary for the stems as they will be darker than your background and can be painted on top of the dry background.  Notice the leaf shapes in the background?  These are painted last after the remainder of the painting has been completed.    Allow the background to dry.
Paint each leaf separately and do not paint leaves which are side by side until the wet leaf has dried completely or the paint will run into the unpainted leaf.
Wet the shape of the leaf with clean water.  Starting with the lightest color in the leaf, drop in the paint allowing the water to move the paint in the wet areas of your leaf.  While this paint is still wet, drop in darker shades of the same color as well as bits of green, brown, Sepia, etc.  Allow your leaves to determine the paint you need to use.  Allow to dry.
Stems, Stick, Acrons, etc:
Using a round brush, paint the stems and other forest items in your painting.  Stems are painted using light VanDyke Brown and then painting down one side with Sepia to allow the two colors to blend while wet. 
 Look at your leaves and using your liner brush and either Sepia or VanDyke Brown paint the veins with a light hand.  Do not paint every vein you see, only a few.   This painting is not intended to be a botanical rendering, but a representation of a forest scene. 

Background Leaves:
Using a wet round brush, lift some of the paint in the background in the shapes of various leaves.  While this area is still wet, use various shades of green, sepia, VanDyke brown, etc. to add the shapes of leaves using very little paint. These leaves are in the background and are very indistinct.  Allow to dry.
View your painting to see if any additional details need to be added in the painting.  When you are satisfied, sign you name.

Happy Painting!

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