Are you all as excited as I am for part 2 of Yao’s amazing Watercolor Tutorial series!?! If you need to catch up check out Watercolor Tutorial pt 1: Basics & Supplies!
Now take it away Yao!
Here is the second tutorial on watercolor, and today I’m going to share with you guys how I use the blending technique. Watercolor is all about letting loose and having a little fun, and there’s nothing more fun than blending with watercolor! With blending, you can get an extraordinary range of saturation and tone. You can start an area with a rich amount of pigment, and as you add more water, it will eventually blend into delicate and soft tones. It’s the perfect way to capture those gorgeous summer flowers in your garden!
I’ve provided a step by step of a bouquet of flowers that I did for this post to show you how I approach painting flowers using blending. So come follow along, and soon you’ll be on your way to creating your own beautiful watercolor pieces!
I don’t typically sketch my painting out beforehand in pencil, only because it can be difficult to erase the pencil lines after the painting is done. I do recommend sketching out your ideas and working out the composition if you don’t feel confident going straight into painting. Another way of sketching is to do some small paintings to see what colors you’d like to use, what techniques, and etc…
CONTINUE THE TUTORIAL
Everyone has a different approach to how to start a painting, but with flora, I like to start with the flower itself. My art teacher once told me that you should always paint flowers in the same way that they bloom in nature. So as you start from the center of the flower and work your way out, imagine how a petal might blossom outwards. You end up capturing the life of the flower that way!
With lighter-colored flowers, try going over the flower with a light wash first, and dip more pigment into the wet area to get a faded effect.
Adding a different color, like I did with pink here, to a light orange flower will achieve a soft blend of the two colors.
Adding more water to an already wet area with lighten the color even more.
Another reason why I like to start with the flowers themselves is because it helps me figure out where to add the stems and leaves later on! A quick note about stems, even though you may not see the entire stem, pay attention to where they would actually connect to the flower.
I have the most fun with leaves because they are easily created with a quick few dabs of the brush. I will talk more about mark-making in an upcoming post and how to create nice leaves and trees using your brush! Try creating different tones of leaves ranging from dark, saturated ones to others that are light and airy!
Here I am adding more pigment to the stem areas that are still wet. You can see how the dark green starts to flow naturally into some of the other stemmed areas, creating a nice range in shades of dark and light greens!
Lastly, as your painting dries, go back and add more color to areas of the flowers to give them more definition!
TIPS & TRICKS
Here are some tips and exercises that you can do if you want to practice seeing how colors blend and work together.
Blend two colors together by starting at one spot with a color and while that area is still wet, begin to paint a second color. Make sure to paint the second color with some distance separating it from the original color. Pull the second color towards the original and watch it slowly blend together in a lovely transition! This works great with sunsets and landscapes.
Wet the surface first with just water, and then add pigment to that area. Then, just sit back and admire the way the colors expand and fade! Make sure you are on a flat surface while you are painting (and also while they dry!) so that the pigment doesn’t run in ways you don’t want it to.
Taking a dark color and pulling away from it with more and more water will create interesting striations and gradations!
Last but not least, blending using edges or corners of a shape will allow the colors and water to flow into each other in a concentrated way. It is really fun to watch how colors interact when they first come into contact with each other! Call me a watercolor nerd, but I can do this all day!
Well, I hope you enjoyed this post of a step by step to painting flora and different tips on blending with watercolor! Some people find this aspect of watercolor frustrating and difficult to work with, but once you learn to let loose a bit you will see why watercolor is such a wonderful way to let your creative juices go!
Until next time!
Updated April 2015 – Yao now offers an online tutorial! Check it out!
Thank you so much Yao! I cannot wait to become a watercolor master! Yao has sweetly offered you guys 20% off at her shop or etsy shop using the code THEALISONSHOW !! So be sure to check out her gorgeous work.