Introduction to Botanical Art - Eucalyptus Leaves
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- To paint eucalyptus leaves in watercolour.
- The equipment needed for botanical watercolour painting.
- Different watercolour techniques to build up your painting.
- How to fix mistakes on your painting.
- How to complete a detailed painting of your own.
- Some basic equipment is required and can be found in the preview video.
I teach botanical and insect illustration and through this experience I've learnt the problems that you might come up against when you first start out with watercolour. I will walk you through the whole process from beginning to end. We'll cover basic equipment required, setting up your specimen, sketching, tonal study, transferring the image to your watercolour paper, and then the real fun begins. We'll go through building up your painting from wet in wet, all the way to dry brush to add those final details at the end. Along the way I'll include lots of tips and techniques to help you learn to paint Eucalyptus leaves, and these techniques can be applied to other subjects.
- Beginner and intermediate watercolour artists interested in botanical art
I'm a botanical artist living near Canberra, Australia and I teach botanical and insect illustration. I love sharing the joy of botanical watercolour painting. Every time I paint a new plant, I learn something about it. I feel that botanical art gives people a new appreciation for nature, and for that subject in particular. I have learned about so many plants just from seeing them in paintings. Once you get your eye in and start looking at the details in them, you will be viewing plants in a whole different way. This tutorial is suitable for complete beginners, but intermediate students may also be interested in learning about the way I approach botanical painting. I hope you enjoy this tutorial!
When you have completed your drawing, it's time to transfer it to your watercolour paper. This is another method of doing this, it is more time consuming than the window, but good for detailed drawings. I have included written instructions in the previous lecture which you can download for future reference.
I have found during my time teaching, and my many years painting, that the consistency of the paint is a crucial factor in watercolour painting. Here I will show you how to mix colours on your palette, and the consistency of the paint required for wet in wet, wet on dry and dry brush work.
The first painting technique I will demonstrate is 'wet in wet' - wetting the surface with water, then applying paint to that area. It is a valuable technique which can be used extensively in botanical art, especially for covering larger areas. Here I will be painting in the blue highlights on the leaves.
I will continue here with the wet in wet technique, this time applying the green mix, and showing how you can build up layers of paint, with the paint soaking in to the paper.
Now that I have the base layers down, I'm going to work on one leaf using 'wet on dry' technique. I will build up more colour, starting with a watery mix, and gradually the paint applied will have less water and more pigment. Also included here is mixing of browns and greys using only two colours.
I've saved this leaf for last - it is fiddly and tricky, and will challenge your eyes and your hands. Because this leaf is behind two others, you will need to be very careful about working around those leaves, and making the whole leaf flow even though you have to work on each area separately.
Step back and look at your painting as a whole. Compare the light and shade on each leaf. Where do you need to touch up? Do you need more shadows? Do you need to lighten anywhere? Are there messy areas that need tidying up? And of course, there are always more details to add, especially little imperfections on these Eucalyptus leaves.
Oh the colours in these stems! So rich and red. Although they are not very wide, I will discuss how to paint the light and shade on stems. Also refer to the 'light and tone' document which illustrates light on stems and rounded objects. They are not perfect though, so more imperfections should be added to the stems.
Almost done! Place a border around your painting and you will be amazed at how good it looks! This can also help you decide where to sign your work. So surely you're finished... or are you? There is stretching to do, but after that you will find that I have made another revelation.
I did say take a look at your painting over a few days to see if there's anything else you need to add. And now I've found I do need to make one more change to my painting. A cast shadow, or two - with dry brush. I will also add some words about signing the front and back of your painting. Time to call it - it's finished!
If you have gone a bit too dark with one of your leaves (or other subject) and feel that you have lost the highlight, you may be able to get it back. It may not be as light as the other highlights, but if you look at a tree with lots of leaves, there are different highlights depending on where the light is hitting the leaf. Here I show you how you can lift some of the pigment to bring a highlight back.
I wish I could say my spills on this painting were deliberate, but they were not. Sometimes they just happen. I do recommend protecting your work with paper. However, it's good to know that these spills can be cleaned up to a certain extent. Here I show you how to remove the paint with a brush and/or sandpaper, and how to smooth the paper afterwards. Don't scrub too hard!