Have you ever wanted how the artist you admire painted or drew that particular artwork? More and more artists are filming themselves working – something I am looking into myself. Until then, I can offer you the steps that I have taken to create some of my more popular artwork. This post shows the process of creating the Autumn Leaves watercolor painting.
The first layer is usually fairly pale; its to place the first colors down as a map or guide to help isolate each element. Since many of these colors are quite pale, you can somewhat easily layer on top of these colors without concern.
Once the palest of colors have been added to the painting, I begin adding many of the darks. Sometimes I have to go over these darks multiple times to get them to the richness that I want. By having both the lightest and the darkest tones on the paper, it is much easier to figure out the values of other colors.
As you can see, even at this early stage I am focusing on some of the textures that are in the leaves. I allow my paint to bloom, encouraging it by dropping in water and lifting out as its drying. Many of these layers will be painted over many times so the texture might not be easily seen through, but it will help give a better sense of smaller details that contribute towards the realism.
Step 3 & 4
I build shape and form with layer after layer of transparent paint. Each layer I add more texture by splashing and dripping clear water onto the paper.
The very last step is to add any necessary small details with my smallest brush. These might be to go back and secure any small veins in the leaves or precise hard shadows where two leaves touch.
I also check my shadows at this stage, making sure that the shadows cast accurately across all leaves. This also means making sure that the shadows have the same level of darkness (otherwise known as value) throughout.
All this hard work produces the finished painting; the Autumn Leaves. You can see the finished painting in my portfolio.