Tag Archives: free art lesson

Let’s Paint an Orange Kitty – Watercolor

Today, we are going to paint an orange kitty using watercolors. Pretty simple, but the end might scare you. Don’t let it! You can do this.

I am using Hahnemühle‘s Leonardo 280 lbs matt watercolor paper, a heavy weight thick wonderful watercolor paper with much texture.

In each frame I wanted to have a picture of kitty for easy reference, however my printer is very low in ink so the picture printed really light. Nothing will set us back….so here we go!

Step by step watercolor kitty

Step 1: Draw an outline in pencil. Make notations of stripes and shadows.

Step by step watercolor kitty

Step 2: We are only going to be using two colors: cad yellow and ochre. Paint cad yellow on the whole body except leave some white spots for the lightest highlights. Leaving white exposed also let’s your painting breath. Sounds strange, but without the white, your painting might end up too heavy. Now, while the cad yellow is wet, paint ochre on the spots where the kitty is shaded. Let dry.

Step by step watercolor kitty

Step 3: Using rose and ochre, paint the kitty’s ear. Think of negative painting when you leave in some hair in the ears. Now, paint rose only on his cute little nose.

Step by step watercolor kitty

Step 4: Using orange, paint where the kitty looks more orange: top of head, in the shadow area, stripes on his legs. If your edges are too hard, you can soften them with a paintbrush that has clean water while the orange is still wet.

Step by step watercolor kitty

Step 5: Paint darker stripes on head and legs with brick red and orange mixed together.

Step by step watercolor kitty

Step 6: Paint the eyes with viridian green and Payne’s grey in the middle. Leave white spots exposed for the light reflecting in his eyes. Next, darken part of the ears with violet. Lastly, using some of that violet, make a small line from his nose down to his mouth and paint shadow around his lip area.

Step by step watercolor kitty

Step 7: This is the part that might scare you…. DONT BE SCARED! Just try it!!! In this brave step, we are going to take a big round brush and paint cobalt blue and violet over all of the shaded areas. That’s right, you’re going to paint right over the kitty in large chunks. Take a deep breath. Only do this step if your painting is completely dry. Shadow his left side, the left part of his face, under his right eye, under his chin, in between his legs, by his tail. Just like before, if your edges are too hard, soften with a brush that has clean water on it. Now look at him pop!

Step by step watercolor kitty

Step 8 Final: In this final step, give him something to rest on. With a large flat brush paint, underneath the kitty with violet. While wet, make shadow underneath the kitty with Payne’s gray. After everything is dry, you can outline the kitty with a black micron pen and give him some whiskers. Viola, la peinture du chat orange est fini!

I hope you enjoyed this free step by step on how to paint a cat with watercolors. The orange kitty’s name is Niles and he would be honored if you tried to paint his picture too!


Purrrrrrr, purrrrrrrr, purrrrrrr.

watercolor kitty


Let’s Paint a Birdhouse on Wire Fence Speed Demo VIDEO

Last June I went to Christ in the Wilderness for a 4 day retreat. Every time I visit, I’m rewarded with beautiful solitude, majestic nature, the ability to think and pray. It is like a spiritual renewal or refreshing. God works in mysterious ways and I believe he was speaking to me through nature, almost preparing me for the near future. More of that on a later post.

While I was there in June, I took video of the surroundings and was inspired to paint a picture of a lonely birdhouse on a wire fence that borders the property of CITW. After completing the painting, I was inspired to name it:
“Going Home”

This perhaps is in direct relation to the passing of my dear friend, Alanna. She always said our bodies are vessels and this world is not our home. How true.

Today’s video is in two parts. It is a pastel painting with a watercolor underwash on a white Ampersand Pastelbord. There are a few minutes of beautiful nature in both videos. The first video is a demo of the bulk of the painting and the second video is a demo of highlighting the details. All supplies are listed in the info section on YouTube. Enjoy.

Video 1 of 2 (9 minutes)

Video 2 of 2 (5 minutes)

It was brought to my attention that sometimes the videos do not show up in your email. That’s weird. I do not know why this happens. In any case, if you are reading this post from your email and do not see the videos embedded in your email, visit http://www.letspaintnature.com and view from the web site.

Interested on a print or greeting card of Going Home?
click here
Photography Prints
Thank you

Let’s Paint a Winter Branch with Watercolors!


Hi Folks! This is going to be a fun lesson and very easy! No really, I’m serious, very easy!! Have you tried painting with watercolors but were frustrated because you didn’t know why it wasn’t doing what you wanted? Well, this lesson will take some of the guess work out what’s happening.

Here is our subject: a winter willow branch.


Step 1: Using 140lb cold press watercolor paper and a pencil, sketch in the shape of the branch. Now at this time, I like to really study my subject inch by inch and review the details. I say things in my head like, the bark is really smooth, mostly blue with some gray, the shape of the twigs are wavy, I see twig and leaf scars, and on and on. Write these things down if you like. The more intimate characteristics you pull out of your subject, the better you will paint.


Step 2: My willow branch has some peeling bark. When the bark peeled off, it turned slightly yellow in color. Under the bark was a nice red/brown flesh. Normally I would apply masking fluid here and do this step last but yours truly left her masking fluid in the car during sub zero weather and ruined her masking fluid! Learn from me, don’t leave masking fluid in the car. Lol.

Using a small round brush paint in cadmium yellow and burnt sienna wet on dry. That means do not wet the paper first. Just paint right on the dry paper. Try not to touch them as the colors will bleed together. Let dry.


Step 3: Using a mixture of cobalt blue and sienna paint in the branch. While it is still wet, on your palette, mix a little more sienna to your mix and paint the bottom of the branch darker. This is the part of the branch in shadow. The light is coming from the top. Because the branch is still wet, the darker color with melt into the lighter for a nice transition. That’s called painting wet on wet. See that tiny little twig on the bottom right of the picture? See how the two colors are separate and have great contrast? That’s because that part of the paper was dry by the time I painted in the shadow color.


Step 4: While the branch is still wet, mix some sienna and Payne’s grey and paint in some dark spots on the branch. These spots are here and there. Because the branch is slightly wet the edges become smooth.


This is not a step, but a brief break to meet Oscar Mayer…it’s Oscar Mayer time!!! Oscar Mayer time!! My dog likes to hang out and watch me paint. 😀


Step 5: Okay, back to work. With the smaller branch on top we are going to do the same steps as before using the same colors, except the very small twigs were more of a red/brown color so I painted them burnt sienna. I do this in sections so it doesn’t dry too fast to work with.


Step 6: As before, we are going to add some sienna/Payne’s Grey spots to the branch when slightly wet.


Step 7: When everything is dry, using a rigger brush and Payne’s grey, paint some thin curved lines on your branch. Remember the branch is round not flat, so your thin lines are rounded too. This is a very important detail for your branch. Next, with burnt sienna, paint a few leaf buds on the tiny twigs (like dots). In this step I also softened the color of the yellow peeling bark by painting over it with yellow ochre using the rigger brush. Looks great!!!


Step 8 Final: Now this step is optional and kind of cheating. To make the white marks on the branch, I used a white Conté Crayon. Remember to draw following the shape of the branch in a nice curved angle. Lastly I drew with a black Micron pen #03.

You’re done! Not bad!


Oscar Mayer Weiner is pretend ignoring us as I stick a camera in his face…but he hopes you enjoyed this free demo of how to paint a winter branch using watercolors!!

Let’s Paint a Warm Winter Field and Tree Pastel!

I don’t know what it is about an open field with few trees, but I just can’t get enough of them! Maybe it’s the open expanse of the field and the sky together, making you feel free or perhaps the feeling of looking far into the distance causing you to ponder the distance in your own life? Who knows. I just like them. So let’s see how to paint a field using warm soft pastel colors…


Step 1: My pastel paper is tinted dark gray and feels like sand paper. I’ve had it for so long, I honestly cannot remember what brand. My paper size is 10×8. Make a simple sketch, with the horizon line 1/3 of the way from the bottom of the paper. Next sketch in some distant tree lines (scalloped edge) and two young trees in the foreground. I used pastel pencils to make my sketch.


Step 2: I always start on top and work my way down. This is a dry pastel painting, meaning there is no underwash. This painting is small enough that I do not need to. Starting at the top paint the sky with dark (R 506,7), medium (R 570,7), and light blue (R 570,9). I am using Rembrandt and Unison soft pastels and will note Rembrandt as R and Unison as U.


Step 3: Blend with your finger. Go right over the trees, it doesn’t matter we will fill it in later.


Step 4: Make some distant trees in the background. My trees are two colors: first a medium brown (R 409,7) and then a purple/brown (R 538,8). Keep the top of the tree line scalloped and uneven. Gently smudge the top of the tree line into the sky.


Step 5: On this day, the sky was mostly cloudy and had a peach color far in the distance. So that is what we will paint, using Unison soft pastels now, paint the horizon a peach color (U Orange 11), the middle of the sky a light lavender (U BV 1). Blend with your fingers lightly.


Step 6: We are going to go even lighter in the sky with another layer of very, very, light lavender/blue (U BV 8). Blend with your finger in circular motion like puffy clouds. Oooo, the sky is looking real nice so far!


Step 7: Now the clouds in the sky are never just white. There are many colors swirling around, like pink, yellow, purple, blue/gray. So here and there we are going to add touches of pink (U Red 18), yellow (U Orange 18), and light lavender (U BV12). Blend with your finger.


Step 8: Now we are going to work on the field. I used three colors, first a dark purple/blown (R 538,7), next a tan color (R 231,3) and lastly a nice russet color (R 411,7). I love all of those yummy warm winter colors!!!


Step 9: Let’s work on the trees now. I used a Carbothello pastel pencil navy (1400/760)


Step 10: After I get the basic shape of the trunk and branches, I like to hit it with some amazing “pop” colors. The color of the sun on the trunk is (U Orange 3). I also used purple Carbothello pastel pencil (1400/385), and just a hint of moss green (R 626,5).
Highlight some grasses in the field with a mild yellow color.


Step 11 Final: Lastly, add some individual grasses in the foreground green/gray (R 202,3), and red (U Red 9). Then make a shadow under the trees with purple (U BV5). And you’re done!
This image may look a little different color-wise, because I scanned in the original painting instead of taking a picture.

“Deliberate Solitude”

To purchase a greeting card or print click here.

To purchase the original pastel painting click here.

I hope you enjoyed this free step by step instruction on how to paint a field and winter tree using soft pastels!

Sketch Class Results Jan 2012


The cold realities of winter did not hinder our love for art and nature. All eager participants showed up bright and early on this frosty January morning, ready to get to work play. We did however, agree to sketch from inside the nature center as the wind was fierce and the wind chill was in the teens.


Here is the class studying the frozen Long John Slough. We talked about the different colors you find in the distance and the foreground and the beautiful colors hiding in the shadows on the slough.


The class did a wonderful job of representing the slough and as a result produced a moment in time, freezing it on this frozen day, and took home a lovely piece of artwork. I’m very proud of each one.


Here is a close up of my sketch. I try to enforce the rule of there being no rules. Our artwork may not look exactly like the real thing, but that’s okay. We are capturing a feeling not a photo.

Katie and Michelle

After class a few of us agreed to a winter hike. Here Katie and Michelle are bundled up and ready to go exploring!


How blessed we were to have a fresh inch of snow cover every single limb and tiny branch the night before. I think to myself, it is no magic (although it looks like it), the Father places every snowflake in its ordained position with care. I am truly thankful and in awe.


We stopped on the Black Oak Trail to study the shadows and listen to the tiny trickle whispering from the pond. This very much feeds our soul and renews our spirits…a much needed rest from a hectic work week.

Don’t let the cold stop you. The next class is Saturday, February 25, 2012. If the weather is too cold we will sketch from inside. I am however always willing for a hike afterwards!