Boost Your Watercolour Confidence
Three natural studies with which to build your skills.
Plants and fungi make versatile subjects for painting, covering a wonderful variety of textures and shades. From houseplants to woodland mushrooms, there’s no end to the inspiration here, and specimens are easily accessible on the whole.
Organic subjects are ideal for practising your skills. Soft edges and natural imperfections mean there’s less pressure to strive for perfection and greater potential for recovering from mistakes.
This exercise makes use of the bold layering. You’ll also ‘draw’ using the paintbrush right from the start.
Start by mixing several different shades of green by changing the amount of blue and yellow in each mix. If you have a turquoise in your palette, try using that, too, to get some really punchy colours.
Manipulate the paint to help you capture the shape of each cactus. Use just the tip of a fine brush to create points and apply more pressure to achieve the wider branches.
As you complete each layer, leave it to dry thoroughly so the colours don’t run. This is especially important before adding the final bold details and cactus spikes.
Succulents are incredibly popular plants, filling window ledges in many homes and garden rockeries. They are very satisfying to paint due to their repeating patterns and charmingly organic shapes.
If you want to make a precise painting, sketch the leaves out first using a pencil.
Go over your pencil sketch using a waterproof fine liner pen, adding fine texture and crosshatching where there would be shadows.
Rub away the pencil and begin your first layer of watercolour. Build several layers using the pulling techniques.
Add the darkest layers where there are shadows, working wet-on-dry to blend any harsh edges.
This is a great exercise for using graphite and pen for the finer details, giving the finished fungi greater realism.
Sketch each mushroom out using a pencil, paying particular attention to the finer details of their gills.
To create crisp lines around the white areas of the cap, draw haphazard areas first with pencil.
Fill in the cap using a brown-orange wash, while leaving the lighter areas unpainted.
To add finer detail, use a pen to draw fine black lines once the last wash has dried.