Simple Leaves

This week I gave myself a challenge. I wanted to paint some simple but beautifully shaped leaves, using only green hues (although I allowed myself to use any colour I liked to mix the greens). I wanted to do this in my watercolour sketchbook which is only 21cm x 13 cm, but still put in as much detail as I could. I really enjoy working on details so, since I’m now in the middle of the summer holidays, I just gave myself all the time I wanted to finish the picture. It was bliss!

I began with a drawing from a photo reference of a Swiss Cheese Plant (Monstera deliciosa). It’s a tropical plant native to Central America…

Then I masked out the stem and main veins so I could work around them more easily…

Next I did a variegated wash over each leaf using a mix of sap green and Windsor yellow for the light green areas and sap green and viridian for the darker areas. Here’s how the wash turned out…

Next I used a darker green shade made with Payne’s grey, viridian and Windsor green to add a series of lines across the leaves. I blended these with the two previous colours I’d made to allow them to get lighter but still be visible.. Next, I removed my mask and painted the main veins and stalks and corrected a couple of masking errors. Finally I gave the leaves a small amount of thickness which would show particularly at the edges and where the leaf has natural holes. Finally I used a damp piece of kitchen towel to wet the lighter bits of the leaves and then used a dry piece of towel to remove a little colour. This was to try to give the leaf a very subtle sheen.

Here’s the final painting…

It was so relaxing to paint this simple subject; with lots of careful, repetitive details I enjoyed it tremendously.

I was also entertained while painting this by the antics of the newest member of our family – a gorgeous, 9 week old, Ragdoll cross kitten, called Leia (after George Lucas’ Princess Leia of course!). She was mostly exploring the sofa and kept trying to climb up the back cushions, appearing for an instant, and then jumping down onto the cushions. She’s so lovely!

Here she is…

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