Lake Marmo Winter Tree Watercolor Sketch

Lake Marmo Winter Tree

An inviting bench next to a lonely tree…I accept.

still
gentle
calm
by a frozen snow topped lake
the trees don’t make a sound…
contemplating their position
recognizing that this again is winter

Now that winter has stripped the leaves clean it’s time to really study the character and structure of trees. What makes them different from one another? What makes them unique? What flaws do they have? How does the color of the bark differ from its neighbor? What side is the sun hitting and how does the shadow cast? What color is the shadow? Is it windy? Are the shadows dancing?

I love winter for the fact that the trees are exposed. When the snow falls ever so gently on each branch, they are dressed in their winter garments like a fancy white laced dress you only wear on special occasions. And every one of them looks different! I can’t wait for some snow.

Take some time to study the trees. They’ll reveal themselves to you.

Sap Frosted Pine Cone Graphite Drawing

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Not snow, but sap. And after you handle the pine cone, you realize the sap is like superglue on your fingers… but it has the most amazing pine scent, so you don’t seem to mind that you’re a mess.  Ha ha ha!

I found this pine cone while hiking and knew it would look great on toned tan paper I purchased recently from Strathmore. Starting with #2 pencil, I outlined the shape of the cone. Next I added a touch of red with a Sanguine Conté Crayon. Taking a #B6 pencil, I shaded the inner parts of the cone to give it depth. Next, I highlighted the edges of the cone with a white Conté Crayon for the sap. Lastly, I outlined with a navy blue sharpie fine tip pen. Usually I use a black Micron pen to outline, however I believe the blue made it pop.

Toned paper is great for shade value practice. Maybe you can find some nature goodies and practice at home!

October Sunrise Watercolor

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My consecration.
How do I pause morning and partake this very moment without your desertion?
Rescue my heart and stay a bit longer…

Oh, but you can’t.

I will trap you with color and mix you with water and embed you in paper.
My feeble attempt of ensnaring.
A way to consecrate.
That which I adore.

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Sometimes a moment grabs you so hard, that you will do anything to savor it. That’s how I felt when I saw this magnificent scene. I would do anything to keep it.

It is my romance with nature that drives me to my sketchbook.

I’m hoping you have a passion for something that brings positive energy to your life. Don’t lose it! Life is too short.

If you are interested in a print or greeting card of “October Sunrise”, you can find it on the new Artwork for Sale page.

Study of Acorns in Watercolor Pencil and Ink

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I like to change my medium up a bit by experimenting with other forms. For these acorns, I started with a water soluble pencil, then added color with a few watercolor pencils, lastly sepia ink with a pen nib and well.

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I think this one is my favorite. It’s a bur oak acorn with a weevil hole.

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This is the tiniest of them all. Little nut and cap. Little color, little ink, which I think works just fine.

Speaking of weevil hole….

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Oh my!
I collected the acorns a week ago, but did not have time to draw them so I placed the acorns in this glass votive cup and placed them to the side. To my surprise a week later, when I dumped out the acorns, I found 4 tiny ALIVE weevil larvae were squirming at the bottom. I had no idea.

Let’s Paint an Easy Oak Leaf!

Yes, it will be easy. Yes, you CAN do this!
So let’s get started and learn a simple way to paint an oak leaf using watercolors. But first, let me show you my palette so that you have the names of the colors.

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The bottom colors are hard to see, they all look dark, but you get the idea. Click for a larger view. I listed the color name and in parenthesis, the brand name. I know I should be using all the same brand names and not mix, but beggars cant be choosers. I buy what I can afford at the time and make it work.

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Step 1: Using a regular #2 pencil, draw the outline of the oak leaf on watercolor paper. I am using 140lb cold press watercolor paper.

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Step 2: Do not pre-wet the paper. We are working small, so there is no need to lay down water first. Paint Cadmium Orange with a medium round brush, over the entire leaf. While it was still wet, I added more orange to the edges excluding that part of the leaf that flips over like a dog ear. See how the edges of the leaf are darker?

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Step 3: In this step we’re going to add different colors to the edge while the leaf is still wet. In the upper left add some Burnt Umber. Watch it spread some. In the upper right hand side add some Indian Red, excluding the part of the leaf turned over. Let dry.

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Step 4: On your palette, mix Indian Red and a little bit of Alizarin Crimson to create a rich red/brown. Make sure your leaf is dry. Paint a line on the bottom left edge of the leaf.

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Step 5: Wash your brush with clean water, tap on paper towel to get excess water off. Immediately after step 4, only touch the edge of the Indian Red/Alizarin color and pull the color inward with your brush that only has water on it.

Do you see what we did here in step 4 & 5? We painted on the leaf when it was completely dry with color, then we pulled one edge of the color inward with a clean brush that only had water on it. Let’s do it again on the bottom right side…

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Step 6: Ok, here we go. Paint the bottom right side of the leaf with a little line of Indian Red and Alizarin.

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Step 7: Clean your brush off with water, tap a paper towel to get excess water off, then immediately touch the inner edge of the line and pull it towards the center with your clean brush. You’re doing great!

Notice we didn’t cover the whole entire leaf when we added layers to it. Remember the leaf started a solid orange. Here you can see we went around some bug holes and veins.

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Step 8: Let dry. Next using a rigger brush and Sepia, paint in some veins and a few dark spots. Let dry.

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Step 9: Here we are going to do the same thing we did in step 4 & 5 and 6 & 7. With Sepia paint a line in the upper left corner. Clean your brush. Touch the inner edge and pull color towards the center.

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Step 10: Using Sepia and a little Cobalt Blue, paint the stem, around the bug holes, and under the edge of the leaf that is curled over.

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Step 11 FINAL: Watch this leaf POP!!!! We’re bringing it all together now! Like at the end of a symphony every instrument is playing!! Ha ha ha…I get so excited!
Using only Cobalt Blue, paint shadow on the right side only. And you’re done!

See you can do it! Just remember, watercolors are done in layers….lightest color first; Don’t cover the whole entire leaf, but let some orange show through, detail with darkest color at the end. Great work!

As your free autumn gift from me to you, I hope you enjoyed this step-by-step demonstration on how to easily paint an autumn oak leaf using watercolors. Now go out and collect some leaves!