Todays Artist is James Audubon
John James Audubon was a French-American ornithologist, naturalist, and painter. He was notable for his expansive studies to document all types of American birds and for his detailed illustrations that depicted the birds in their natural habitats.
This part of the class we will forget about the broad brushstrokes to create entire landscapes and change our perspective to studying foliage and painting it with watercolors. Immediately your senses will shift from focusing on a photograph and you should see the benefits and complexities of working with a real leaves, twigs and branches in front of you.
But how to start? For this section we will not be doing any preliminary drawings, but instead will be working directly on our paper with watercolors. So as to not go into the task without any background lets first look at some common ways to construct leaves and trees with watercolors.
The key to painting foliage with watercolors is to combine both your wet in wet (that means adding wet paint to an already wet surface) and wet on dry techniques. As we have already covered you must have a good understanding of the value scale which you are using in the painting before you even start painting. I would suggest limiting your palette to about 8 variations of yellow to green to to dark green/blue.
First we will be working with just generating some brush strokes, and from there we will begin constructing a tree starting with bright lemon yellow (don’t worry if you don’t have the exact color, any bright yellow will work). With your yellow start with the top left of your tree, then before this yellow is dry you will be adding just a little bit of light yellow-green to form the bottom of your tree.
Remember to leave some holes for the sky to peek through.
Then, while this is all still wet start dabbing a few deeper colors into the tree to represent some darker values.
Go darker, and darker towards blue-green at the bottom right hand of the tree.
Then let everything dry (you’ll notice that watercolors get lighter as they dry)
Put in a few last dashes on leaf shadows ( LESS IS MORE! )
Then mix up some ochre/brown and make a dab for the trunk making sure that the trunk vanishes under the leaves and doesn’t appear to be on top of them.
Now that we have created this tree we will be moving on to the foliage in front of us on our desks (If it’s nice outside we can also go to Riegrovy Sady park and paint there. ) Using the same methods (working from light to dark) you will be creating a watercolor painting of your plant, leaves, stems, twigs, and flowers. For this you should make a very VERY light contour line sketch detailing the different values present.