Quick Tree Watercolor Demo

This was a quick watercolor demo that I did for my beginning drawing and watercolor students. It shows how to approach painting a tree, a complex subject, in watercolor.

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First, I did a rough sketch on the paper and laid in a very light blue wash, which is not very visible in this photo.

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Next I covered all of the tree and grass with a yellow wash, leaving room for some negative spaces in the tree where the sky will show through. My reason for using a yellow is this: Highlights on the leaves can be yellow, and all of the lights and shadows can contain yellow because tree leaves are green. Using yellow on this layer will allow me to use negative shapes to complete the painting, so that I will be filling in the spaces between leaves rather than painting individual leaves.

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Next I laid in a shadow color that is kind of a cool brown. Note that I moved very quickly with this demo, and simply wiggled my brush around to create a leafy effect. I also included a few branch type shapes.

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Now for the color! I started with a very yellow green, again wiggling my brush to create an effect. I left plenty of yellow spaces for highligjhted leaves, knowing I can come back later to make the yellow areas smaller if needed. After using the yellow-green color, I made a slightly darker, slightly bluer green for a sort of 'half tone' between the yellow-green and the shadows. You can see a little of it on the left side.

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Here is where I stopped my demo. I left the right hand side unfinished so that my students could see the different colors of the layers. To 'finish' the left side, I continued with the green-blue half tone, added some bluer hues in the shadow for variety, and also added a slightly darker blue just on top for the sky. This is a little more realistic (daytime clear skies tend to be bluer at the top and more pale toward the horizon) but also helps the tree appear to come forward.

Another Beginning Drawing and Intro to Watercolors class will start Wednesday nights at Tomahawk Ridge Community Center in Overland Park on September 10th. Follow this link for more info: http://www.opkansas.org/things-to-see-and-do/classes-programs-and-leagues/adult-painting-classes/

Negative Space Watercolor Painting - Dandelions

I created this demo to show my beginning watercolor students an approach to painting using negative space that can be helpful in simplifying complex compositions, building layer by layer from light to dark.

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I forgot to stop and take a picture at step 1, so the above image as part way into step 2. For the first step, I sketched ovals that approximated the size and position of the flower heads of the dandelions. Then I painted a very light wash into the negative spaces around them. After this layer dried, I sketched in the stems (the next lightest and closest things to the flowers) and begin to paint a slightly darker wash around them.

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Above is the finished 2nd layer. The wash isn't completely even everywhere, but it's ok.

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Using an even darker tone, I start to go into the smaller sections and carve out more negative spaces around the leaves and grass blades. At the same time, I start taking negative spaces out of the round flower shapes to start to define the petals.

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Continuing to go section by section allows me to reduce the chaos of many details into smaller manageable pieces. Starting with big shapes before moving on to smaller shapes simplifies the process.

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In this photo you can see I'm also starting to work on some of the details in the positive shapes of the flowers.

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This is where I stopped my demo, but more could be done if desired. One could add endless amounts of detail on top, darker values, and smoother transitions. For example, the stems could have a graduated effect, going from lighter near the flower to darker at the base.

If I had done this sketch in color, I could have started with a light yellow wash over the whole paper, and built up darker and darker washes of green for the foliage behind the flowers. Perhaps I will do that next as another quick watercolor demo.

Dangrrr Doll Step-By-Step

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Recently I completed this 8"x6" watercolor of Dangrrr Doll. I took pics along the way so you can see my progress!

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After sketching in an outline, I started laying in the darkest areas with a fairly dark value., though not the darkest one.

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I continued to do this, while applying lighter washes to areas that were in shadow but not black. Some edges, like the feathers, I left crisp, while others I softened by adding clean water to the edge if the wash while it was still wet.

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Here you can see I've applied more washes in shadow areas, but I've also started glazing texture into the feather fans.

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Nearing completion, I focus on more texture all over, and including half tones on the skin and hair.

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Some last minute details and unifying washes over large areas, and I have a completed little watercolor. :-)

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Soon I will post a step-by-step progress of a negative space watercolor painting. I hope you enjoyed the pictures! Please feel free to ask questions in the comments section.