How to Paint a Rose – Step No. 3

Leaves on Rose in WatercolorAh, today the flower takes center stage as the supporting cast is brought in to play!

In nature, leaves on the same plant will bounce around in the light and have a multitude of colors. Some will look blue, some will look green, others will look yellow or brown! In order for the painting to represent nature, a variety of colors should be worked into the leaves. For the yellow-green areas I used a very watery mixture of New Gamboge and Permanent Sap Green. I applied it softly and thoughtfully, not completely filling in the outline, but carefully looking at the photo reference to tell me where to place the color and whether or not to create soft or crisp edges. The applications of paint here are really an under-painting for future glazes of color that will be gently layered over the tops of these pigments.

The blue is a very wet, wet, wet application of Pthalo blue. Be careful with this color – it is extremely intense! There should only be a hint of color and lots of water! Notice that some of the edges are softened with water. To review the YouTube video of the Softened Edge Stroke, click the Lessons tab at the top of this page.

Shadows on LeavesI used Burnt Sienna to create the delicate red-brown edges of some of the leaves. Again, to keep it looking natural I did not apply this to every edge, only some. I also used Burnt Sienna to create an under-painting for the darker, cast shadows on the leaves.

Adding a green glazeOnce all of the previous layers are dried completely, I can add glazes of green and yellow. I used several combinations of wet applications with New Gamboge, Permanent Sap Green and Hookers Green. Notice how the “brown” shadows become dark green when the green pigments are glazed on. Be careful not to stroke your brush over these areas too much, be gentle, or the previous layers will lift and create “mud”.

I applied these greens with very wet, gentle strokes. Then, dipping my brush into darker colors, I touched the darker colors into the wet areas to create very soft shadows. It is  important to let the pigment do what it wants to do here. Don’t try to control it too much.

Leaf DetailHere is a detail shot of the bottom leaf. I think of butterfly kisses when I’m painting these areas. Just “tickle” the paper with your brush, using almost no pressure at all. Be thoughtful where the tip of your brush touches the wet areas with darker color, and let it blend on its own. You can tip the paper and allow gravity to move the pigment if you want it to move more. Don’t strive for “perfection”, but strive for “sparkle”.

Next post, the finished painting!

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