Tag Archives: step by step

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 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.


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.


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.


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?


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.


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.


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…


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


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.


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


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.


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.


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!

Let’s Paint Evidence of Autumn!

Look around you…this time of year you can see evidence of autumn. Look at the very tips of the trees near the top. Do you see it?

Yes, just a hint of autumn. My favorite time of year.
Well, I’m not going to waste any time. Every day from now until the end of November I will savor, because I know it won’t last. This precious time will go blazing fast…so let’s preserve this moment in time by painting “Evidence of Autumn”, using soft pastels…..


Step 1: Make a rough sketch using a charcoal pencil. This is a 7×5 Ampersand Pastelbord. Do this step fast and don’t worry about detail. Most of this will be covered my paints anyway, I just do it for a road map to where I’m going next.


Step 2: For the underpainting, we will use watercolors, it’s quick and it spreads. The blue sky is indigo blue at the top and cerulean blue near the horizon.


Step 3: Mix some alizarin with your indigo and paint some boughs on your tree. While you’re at it, paint the distant trees in the horizon.


Step 4: Fill in the tree with some sap green. Fill in the field with yellow ochre, burnt umber, and indigo blue. Be carefull because the watercolor wants to spread like crazy on the Ampersand Pastelbord. Use little water and more pigment. It will dry light.


Step 5: Using cobalt blue watercolor, drop in some color in the distant trees and a touch in the shadow of our main attraction, the autumn tree. This will be the last time we use watercolors. Our underpainting is done. Let dry completely.


Step 6: Now the fun begins! When your underpainting is completely dry, grab a dark blue pastel and scribble in the sky near the top of the painting. With a medium blue, scribble in the horizon sky. With your finger, blend the two.


Step 7: On the sky, scribble some light blue pastel. Go ahead, go crazy. It feels good, don’t hold back. Blend with your finger.


Step 8: Using an electric blue pastel, paint the shadow areas of the tree. Add some light purple on the ends.


Step 9: Take a dark sap green pastel and paint sections of the tree. I like to use nice up and down strokes. Use what ever feels comfortable to you. This is your style.


Step 10: Take a dark blue pastel and paint in the trunk. Blend with your fingers. For the distant trees, paint them with a light and dark purple pastel.


Step 11: Now we dazzle! Highlight the tree with a lighter green. Keep in mind which direction the light is hitting: left to right.


Step 12: Did you ever want to kiss a tree with autumn colors? Well, now is your chance! Fly up there and touch the ends with orange and yellow. This is living!!!


Step 13 Final: Add the sun! The brightest colors go last. Use the lightest orange you have to highlight a few leaves. Use the lightest yellow you have to highlight a few leaves over the green. As in, “a few leaves”, I mean: dot, dot, dot.
In the field paint some goldenrod by painting some yellow touches here and there. You’re finished! Now that wasn’t too hard was it?

I hope you enjoyed this free step-by-step pastel demonstration. I know when I am painting, I feel more alive than I do any other time of my life. It is soul nourishing. I can’t live without it. I hope I can help you feel that way too.

“Evidence of Autumn”
original pastel
no mat, no frame
(includes shipping in US)

Click here to see availability.

Let’s Paint a Comma Butterfly!

The day I went hiking and discovered the phoebe nest with babies, I also found this guy beside the stream:

It is a Comma Butterfly sitting on the mud next to the stream, and that is exactly where my, “Butterflies of North America” book, by Brock & Kaufman, said I can find one! Why is it named Comma? It is named appropriately for the white comma mark he has under his wing. You can not see it in this photo.

So let’s have some fun painting our new little friend with some watercolor paints…

Step 1: Make a butterfly sketch using graphite on hot press 140lb. watercolor paper. Next, apply masking fluid (orange spots) to the areas you want to keep white and clean. If I know I am going to mat this painting later, I make brackets so that I can keep track of what will be showing and what will be hiding under the mat.

Step 2: I decided to start with the background this time. I wanted to keep the painting true to what I observed, but I know a background of mud and rocks might be a little too overwhelming…so I know I have to keep it relatively simple but show texture at the same time. Don’t worry it’s not too hard, we can do it! First wet your background. Paint the background brown, while wet drop in some indigo blue, sap green and yellow green gold. Stand your paper up while dropping in your color so that the color drips down.I LOVE THAT!

Step 3: Texture time!!! While my background was still wet, I took a Q-Tip and soaked it in rubbing alcohol. Then I touched the wet paint. This process creates “fish eyes”, perfectly round white circles or bubbles, you can see them in the upper left hand corner of the painting against the green paint.
Next, I sprinkled salt on the lower right hand corner against the blue paint. This will create tiny little “stars”. Don’t brush off the salt until it is thoroughly dry. Fish eyes and stars are fun and easy ways to create texture, but don’t over do it! Too much texture and our little friend, Mr. Comma Butterfly, will get lost.

Let your painting completely dry, then load your brush with a dark brown/blue mixture of paint and flick it on your painting. I covered the butterfly with a small piece of paper so I would mess it up. Flicking paint is really, really, really fun. Your hands get dirty with paint and you feel like a kid again making a “mess”! It is great therapy. Speaking of mess, at this stage you might start to worry and feel like your painting looks like a gigantic mess. Don’t worry, I promise in the end it will all come together.

Step 4: We are going to work on the butterfly. First I laid down some yellow, followed by red brick. I let them touch each other and they start to melt. I did not pre-wet the paper.

Step 5: I took the darkest brown I had and painted the lower half and around the tips of his wings.

Anglewing by the Stream - Watercolor

Comma Butterfly by the Stream - Watercolor

Step 6 Final: First, after the brown lower half dries, make a darker mixture of brown by mixing it with indigo blue. Paint the lower half again. When dried, take a wet clean bristle brush and scrape out the inner wing next to his body. This is where the light was hitting his wing, making it a little shiny.
On the upper half, I made a diluted wash of water and country red brick. Lightly go over the top half, calming the colors down pulling everything together.
Let everything dry.
Take the masking fluid off by rubbing it with a rubber eraser or your finger.
Let’s make some fun spots. Here I used light brown, med. brown and dark brown.
Make some shadow color out of cobalt blue, paint under his wings. Don’t forget about his little antennas. If you forget to paint in the shadow, he will not look like he is resting on the mud, but floating around.
And for the grand finish, I took a black Micron pen and went around his body, wings, spots, and gave him some antennas.

“Butterfly by the Stream”
original watercolor
image: 6.5×4.5
mat outside dimensions: 10×8
(includes shipping & tax in US)

click here to purchase, it will take you to the site of available watercolor paintings.

I hope you enjoyed this step by step demonstration on how to paint a butterfly using watercolors!

Let’s Paint a Winter Landscape!

Oh boy! How I love winter! It always seems that I get impatient for the next season to arrive, I start to daydream about it and then I have to paint it way before it starts!

So here we go:

Step 1: Here is the rough sketch on wallis pastel paper using vine charcoal. I always like to see where I’m going before I go. The charcoal will wash off a little when you go to step 2 but it won’t wash off completely so you’ll be able to keep your orientation.

Step 2: The lovely under wash! This is one of the most fun steps to complete! I sprayed the whole paper with a mist of water, grabbed my watercolors and laid down the foundation for this magical winter scene. Remember, we’re not going for details so let your colors bleed and blend. Cerulean blue for the sky, alizarin crimson for distant pines, and sap green with a little indigo blue for the closer pines. Do this step real fast because you want your colors to melt together. Use what’s left over on your pallet for the stream and some concentrated sky paint for the snow shadows.

Step 3: Let step 2 completely dry. Now were getting serious! Make a line of closer pines with Unison dark pastels. You can use a dark blue, you can use a dark green, you can even use a dark purple. Get wacky. Unison pastels are able to get real dark unlike the darkest Rembrandt Pastels, which will frustrate you if you try to make them work. Don’t forget a little bit of snow on the pine boughs, not white though…that would be too harsh, use a soft blue or purple to represent snow in the shade.

Step 4: Finally, add some snow on the land with the lightest blue you have. I also added warm colors like yellows and oranges to the highlights on the snow mounds. A deeper purple was added to the snow shadows and the cutest little snow droplets in the stream was made. These snow droplets represent snow gathered on top of some large rocks in the stream. When including something in the water don’t forget to give it some reflection or it won’t look like it belongs.

From the Pines
5×7 Pastel

This painting will hopefully be on display and for sale at the LaGrange Art Gallery November – December. If you would like to purchase it before then you can contact me here: ckane7272@aol.com .

I hope you enjoyed this step by step painting demonstration!