Colourful Leaves Project 

 

This painting project produces a pretty, autumnal painting and I thought it would be interesting to go through it step by step with photos so that you can try at home. It is not a quick painting though, it takes time but it is a nice process to try. This project is probably suitable for slightly more advanced painters but not necessarily, have a go! The original article Jane wrote has been paired down and it is more in note form than a tutorial, look out for future online follow along projects 

 
Finished leaves

The concept of the painting is that it is built up in layers of colour, each layer is separated with thinned acrylic gel (mixed with water). THE TECHNIQUE FOR BOTH ACRYLIC AND WATERCOLOUR IS: GLAZING.

 

The materials lists for both acrylic and watercolour are below but basically you can use

 

watercolours, acrylics, liquid acrylics 

 

Aim: to build up colours on the leaves and the background (both are painted at the same time, sometimes the background is painted more). You are aiming to achieve luscious darks, purples, dark greens, dark blue/blacks, by repeatedly adding thin washes of colour on each layer.

What you will need, set aside an afternoon for this project

USING ACRYLICS:

  • watercolour paper, as large as you wish

  • board plus masking tape and duct tape (really ensure that all sides are taped down well as when you add the water it will lift the paper considerably)

  • hairdryer (speeds it all up)!

  • flat end brush for applying gel mixture, small pointed brushes for watercolour/acrylic

  • Choice of or combination of

  • acrylics (as above)

  • fluid acrylics - work very well

  • water pot x 2, one for clean water the other for gel mix

  • acrylic gel gloss, or acrylic gel (any type) or if you dont have those you could try a small amount of PVA with water. Take 3 brush fulls of gel/pva put in waterpot, add 2 tablespoons cold water and mix. This is your gel mix for inbetween layers. It seals the layer completed from the next. You can get the acrylic gels at The Range, online i.e. Jacksons art or probably at Hobbycraft (expensive)

  • Leaves: interesting shapes and sizes, one large one only is probably enough. Place between sheets of paper and put a couple of heavy books on top. Leaves can be used to print repeatedly

  • Thicker white acrylic paint (this is to paint onto the leaves)

  • Rolling pin, glass or something to roll over the leaf (place kitchen roll over the leaf before you roll)

 

There are at least 7 layers on the final painting so far and it does take time but it is fun.

USING WATERCOLOURS:

 

Bring all of your colours, you will need 'Staining Colours' and 'Transparent Colours' see this link here for what they are

Brushes

small roller

leaves of various shapes and sizes and colours

Paper

Tape

Water holder

leaves

You do not need the acrylic gel as above but staining colours instead

Hairdryer is useful to speed up drying in between times

 

 

Preliminary stages
  • ACRYLICS

  • 1st Layer, using acrylics, wet in wet let dry

  •  2nd: Paint mix of acrylic gel/water all over. Let dry. Using thicker acrylic white I painted a leaf and then rollered it on with small roller

  •  3rd: Try and make a small 'plan' for where your leaves will go. Pick small leaves first, vary their shape and size, print. Use thin washes to go round the dried white leaves

  •  4th: continue using the original colours to paint around the leaves, picking out the details

  •  5th: keep placing interesting shaped leaves over the original ones, play with the flow of the painting

  •  6th: this is how I built them up

  •  7th:  Paint mix of acrylic gel/water all over. Let dry.  Use colours over the leaves and the background this time, take the paint out to different areas

  •  8th: Built up the colours by adding gentle washes so both the leaves and background become stronger

 

  • WATERCOLOUR

  • 1st Layer, using staining colours, wet in wet, add salt let dry

  •  2nd:  Using thicker watercolour white I painted a leaf and then rollered it on with small roller

  •  3rd: Try and make a small 'plan' for where your leaves will go. Pick small leaves first, vary their shape and size, print. Use thin washes to go round the dried white leaves

  •  4th: continue using the original transparent colours to paint around the leaves, picking out the details

  •  5th: keep placing interesting shaped leaves over the original ones, play with the flow of the painting

  •  6th: this is how I built them up

  •  7th:  On dry paper.  Use colours over the leaves and the background this time, take the paint out to different areas. Continue alternating with staining and transparent washes

  •  8th: Built up the colours by adding gentle washes so both the leaves and background become stronger

Middle stages and end!

MY NOTES

 

The second stage of the autumn leaves painting has proved trickier than I thought. Leaving the painting for a while does help, the colours settle down and when I went back it seemed ok. I then decided to put more washes on the last layer and small white bits of acrylic started to flake off.

 

So, to remedy this, I let it dry and then applied the gel gloss as before. This protected the white leaves I had done. The aim for this sessionis to darken the background bring out the beautiful colours of the leaves, re-do a few leaves that I wasnt happy with

 

It is still not finished and I am not too happy at this stage, it looks a little murky, needs more definition on shapes and highlights bringing up. We shall see.....

 

This is where I left off, I added more blue, pink and yellow washes to background and leaves. Bits of white started to fall off so I added a layer of gel. After sealing the previous layer I decided I wasn't happy with the central large leaf. I reprinted the middle part of the leaf again which brought back the pattern I had lost. I added a few more leaves too.Then I re-glazed (re-painted) these leaves and toned done a lighter yellow area that I felt was too bright. It took away from the central leaf. This end stage was given another gel coat and for the next I want to have some more lovely blue.

 

You can get the acrylic gels at The Range, online i.e. Jacksons art or probably at Hobbycraft (expensive)

 

Mix a teaspoon of the gloss gel in a container with about 2 tablespoons of water. This should be enough for quite a few layers. Apply with a wide soft brush, all over the painting and allow to dry. You can then paint the next layer or print leaves 

 

Final end stages of the painting

Knowing where to end with a painting can be tricky, sometimes you just feel as if you cant do any more and that if you add more to it then it would go too far. Not with this one! The pictures below pick up from the above 'Middle' section of the painting and follow on. Normally I would recommend 'less is more' but with this technique and painting it is more is more! I didnt feel too happy with some of the middle section although really liked the way that colours suddenly shone out after a glaze of gel and more leaf printing in white acrylic.

Skyblue Art Classes, affordable art classes for adults in the Worthing and Angmering area of West Sussex, U.K

Email: skybluart1@gmail.com

Tel: 01903 856999 ask for Jane

Teaching Locations: Heene Community Centre and Angmering Community Centre