Let’s Paint an Eastern Pondhawk Dragonfly!

Oh boy! You are really going to love this step-by-step watercolor demonstration on how to paint a female Eastern Pondhawk Dragonfly (Erythemis simplicicollis) because it’s so darn EASY! I know you can try this one home…come on…just try it!


Here is my reference photo, not the greatest I know, but hey, I really did meet this beautiful girl at the pond in the woods. Now this can either be a female or a juvenile male pondhawk. An adult male pondhawk is all blue with a green head. Today I am going to believe it is female. Girls rule, boys drual…just kidding!


Step 1: Make a pencil sketch on cold press watercolor paper.


Step 2: Paint the body with cad yellow and the wings a pale gray by mixing a tiny bit of indigo blue, sap green, and crimson, with much water to create a diluted gray.


Step 3: Mix a tiny bit of sap green to your cad yellow on your palate and paint the body. Leave some pure yellow showing through. Do not cover the whole body.


Step 4: Using pure sap green, paint the tip of the head and the abdomen. Just like before, don’t cover the whole body, leave some pure yellow-green showing through.


Step 5: Here comes the cool part! Make a black mixture using blue, red, and green. Paint the black spots. Don’t go crazy though, look at the reference photo before placing black spots.


Step 6: Paint the eyes with a gray mixture. You can dilute your black mixture with water to make gray. Make more details with a black micron pen or fine rigger brush, look at the segments in the abdomen and notice the black line running down. Painting is all about noticing the details.


Step 7: Now, I do not have an expensive camera and can not tell what is going on in the wings or head…that’s OK, I’m not worried, if you just suggest what’s going on, the viewer will believe it. Remember, there is no stress when painting, only fun. In this step I took my micron black pen and made lines on the wings to suggest separation. I also made legs with the pen.


Step 7b: You thought you were having fun before? Look at this step! When everything was dry, I painted an iridescent medium on top of the wings. This watercolor iridescent medium is not gaudy, but subtle. You can only see the iridescent glitter when you hold the painting on an angle to the light. I love it.

Female Eastern Pondhawk Dragonfly watercolor

Step 8 Final: This is optional. I added a green background using leftover paint on my palate. I also added a darker green stick for my dragonfly to rest on and a flower for interest. Now I know this pondhawk isn’t perfect but it sure does remind me of my encounter in the woods at the pond. How lovely.

I have total confidence that you can do this step-by-step dragonfly. Just try it and don’t give up, you might just surprise yourself!

1 Comment

  1. Nicely done. I love using iridescent &/or metallic paints in my work at times, too. I love the light effects–they can change a painting, make it more kinetic, y’know?

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