Let’s Paint the Green Frog at Papoose Lake!

Remember the little green frog we found at Papoose Lake? He’s so cute! My daughter named him Bart.
Bartholomew Green Frog from Papoose. Very fitting considering Saint Bartholomew’s (one of the 12 Apostles) feast day is in August.

Well, here we go…Let’s paint the green frog in watercolors…

Step 1: I made a sketch with my pencil on hot press 140lb. watercolor paper. Always remember composition when you are sketching. Don’t put your frog smack dab in the middle, that would not look interesting. Make sure he is off center and fills about 2/3 of the image area. This is most pleasing to the eye.

Step 2: Protect the aquatic plants and duckweed in the water with masking fluid. Let completely dry. I know this is a pain and it takes a while and all you really want to do is just jump in and paint, paint, paint, but CONTROL yourself! I feel that way too.

Step 3: Let’s do the background first. Here’s what I did: I wet the paper with clean water, except for the frog, and waited until the paper did not look shiny. Then I took a brown wash and painted the background. While wet I dropped in spots of dark blue and dark green. Next a LOADED my brush with dark blue and made drip marks (you know I love those!) on the paper. I again loaded my brush with dark green and dripped some of that color. Let dry.

Step 4: OK let’s move on to Bart. I painted his little bright green spot with a yellow watercolor. Next, I took a red-brown and painted the lightest part of his body. When working with watercolors, you always have to paint lightest first, and then darker next. That is the opposite when painting with oils; darkest first, highlight on top last. With watercolors, our lightest color is the white of the paper!

Step 5: Adding darker colors (blue, brown and a little green) to the shadow areas.

Right at this point I had some negative thinking. I thought, what in the world is this going to look like? Bart looks muddy and overworked, maybe? But negative thinking is the enemy. Just the enemy speaking right in your head. Just as a side note, right now I am currently reading a book called, “The Biology of Belief”, by Bruce Lipton. In short the book proves how environment (including how we think) controls your cells. Your genes are the blueprints, but they cannot turn themselves “on” or “off”, the environment (physical and energetic) is the contractor. Cells can respond to our thoughts and perceptions. HOLY COW!

Do you know what this means??? NO more negative thinking! Ever.
Let’s move on…

Step 6: Adding darker colors. The green frog as opposed to the bullfrog has a dorsal-lateral ridge (that raised line) behind his eye and down his back. We will accentuate this later by creating very dark shadows underneath this ridge.

Step 7: Even more dark colors by adding blue, crimson, and green together.

Step 8: Now we are going to remove the masking fluid and paint the grasses and duckweed. I made some of the duckweed yellow and some yellow-green. The grasses were painted yellow first, then a darker green next while still wet.

Step 9: We need to make shadows under the duckweed and at the base of the grasses. Also make dark lines where Bart is half in the water and half out.

Bartholomew Green Frog at Papoose watercolor

Step 10 Final: This is it! The last step. Here I took a micron pen and darkened Bart in the places he needed it. Next after everything was dry I used acrylic white paint to make highlights on Bart’s wet skin and where ever the water touches his skin or grasses. HOT DOG it looks GREAT!

What if we let negative thinking win and stopped painting after step 5? This painting never would have existed. To tell you the truth, this may just be one of my best watercolor yet! Thank you God for helping me not believe in lies.

“Bartholomew Green Frog st Papoose Lake”
image: 6.5×4.5
off white outside dimensions: 10×8
no frame
(includes shipping & tax US)

click here to purchase, it will take you to the available watercolors for sale.

I hope you enjoyed this step by step watercolor demonstration on how to paint the green frog!


  1. Joan: Thank you so much! It was a good challenge, much harder then a landscape, I think. 🙂

    Chris: Thanks! I hope by showing the step by step, that it is helping other artists with their watercolors too.

    Dawn: Thanks, that little green frog is cute! I tried to catch him but he was way too fast for me 🙂

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