Tag Archives: watercolor demonstration

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 Hawk Feather!

While hiking I found the greatest feather ever! From tip to tip it is 13 inches…wow that’s HUGE! So let’s make a watercolor painting so we can remember this feather forever…

Here is the reference photo. I had to tape the feather down because it wanted to lay on its side. Isn’t it a beauty?

Step 1: Make a sketch. My picture is bad, but you get the idea. I used hot pressed watercolor paper for its smooth quality. There is no texture with hot press and I wanted my feather to be smooth.

Step 2: The base color of the feather is going to be applied wet-on-wet. Pre-wet the feather only and paint yellow ochre in the middle, raw umber on top, and a touch of diluted french ultramarine on the bottom.

Step 3: When dry, paint a layer of raw umber on the left side of the feather and the stripes. On the right side, at the edge, there are spots or splotches, make sure to be loose with this and don’t over do it.

Step 4: After the last step is dry, using raw umber, a touch of sepia, and a touch of burnt sienna, make another layer on the left side and the top of the right side. We make layers because that’s the nature of watercolors. The lightest colors go first and then you darken in steps.

Step 5: We are now going to make lovely details. This is a close-up of the downy barbs at the base of the feather. With a rigger brush and a diluted concentration of ultramarine blue, make thin lines with little “hairs” on either side. After everything was dry, I used a #1 and #3 black micron pen to outline here and there. Finally with a gray-blue mixture, I painted a shadow under the feather. I was considering a dark background to show off the feather but decided against it because I wanted it to look light as a feather..HA HA get it!?! Light as a feather? OK I’ll stop. Anyway, I thought a darker background would be too heavy.

Here is the final piece. With sepia, paint the stripes. Don’t be too perfect because as you can tell from the photo the lines of the stripes are uneven. The micron pen helped to define the feather’s shape and a shadow is a must!

I hope you enjoyed this step-by-step watercolor demonstration on how to paint a hawk feather!

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Let’s Paint the Blue Dasher Dragonfly!

Remember we saw the blue dasher at Papoose Lake a few weeks ago? Let’s have a lot of fun by learning how to paint this dragonfly using watercolor paints…

Here is our reference photo. Isn’t he handsome?

Step 1: Make a rough sketch on 140lb. hot press watercolor paper using graphite pencil.

Step 2a: Wet your background. Here is an easy and efficient way to wet your background: take a wet sponge, wring it out, and evenly go over the background INCLUDING the wings. The sponge is fast, it doesn’t soak your paper, and you get even coverage. Why did we wet the wings too? The blue dasher’s wings are transparent, so we need to show the background behind the wings as well.

Step 2b: This is going to be a vignette. A vignette is when the painting has no definitive edges. The background color seems to fade out on all sides…I like that a lot. After I sponged my background I waited until the paper was no longer shiny. I made a wash mixture of yellow and sap green (more on the yellow side) and painted the background. To soften the edges I took a little spray bottle and sprayed the edges. While wet, I took some indigo blue and flicked a few spots to speckle the back and give it interest and texture.
Important: wet the wings with a clean brush and clean water and scrub the color out, then blot with a paper towel. Even though the wings are transparent, we have to show the surface of the wings. Don’t worry even though it sounds hard, I’ll make it easy!

Step 3: Let’s start with his eyes. The male blue dasher has turquoise eyes. I didn’t have turquoise watercolor paint, so I made my own. Half the time when something like this happens, I make my own mixture without even knowing what I’m doing really. I guess a lot. If it doesn’t work I don’t’ use it and no harm done. If it does work I use it and I’m happy because I just learned something new. I will lock that information somewhere in my brain and when I need it next, I will know what to do. I will never get to that point however, if I don’t PRACTICE ALL THE TIME! Getting better is so much fun.
Turquoise=green gold (Winsor&Newton) and manganese blue (Winsor&Newton). Taddaaaa
For his “neck” I used burnt umber.

Step 4: For the body I used cerulean blue. Wait until it dries and then make another layer of cerulean blue on the outside edges only. Let dry.

Step 5: Defining the body.
Using cobalt blue, I painted the edges of the segments of his body. I needed a small rigger brush to do this delicate work. I also made a shadow behind his eyes on his “neck” using a darker brown.

Step 6: The wings.
Don’t panic! Believe it or not, there are not too many steps here. First, we have to paint his little legs under his body because you can see them through the wings. With gray paint (every color left on your pallet mixed together) and a small rigger brush, outline the outside of the wings and a few important lines inside the wings. Don’t worry about every single line and “cell”. It’s not that I can’t paint the wings in great detail, but that I wont. I refuse to spend 19 hours getting the details exact. I took a picture for exact-ness. This is a painting with feeling.
Next, the blue dasher has the most beautiful amber spots on his wings in only a few spots. I used yellow ocher and a little country brick to make a great amber color. Paint in the spots closest to his body and near the upper and outer parts of the wings. Remember, you are going to paint right over the legs because the legs are under the wings.

Step 7: Here comes the fun part! I used iridescent medium made by Winsor & Newton. It is a watercolor medium that you can mix with your watercolor paints or paint on top of your dried watercolor painting. Here is a tip: If your bottle has been sitting for a long time, like mine has, you will need to take the end of your paint brush stick and mix it up on the bottom of the bottle and then tightly close the bottle up and let it sit upside down for a while. It does separate if left for a long time. Iridescent medium is wonderful because it is not gaudy and overly glittery. It is very, very subtle…we like that. I painted the medium over my dried painting on the wings only. I took this picture (while it was still wet) on an angle so you can see where I covered the wings. When looking at the painting head on, you cannot tell there is iridescent medium applied.
I finished the leaf by painting the whole thing yellow and while wet, dropping sap green down the middle. When dry I mixed sap green and indigo blue and painted the edges of the leaf.

Blue Dasher Dragonfly from Papoose Lake - watercolor

Step 8 Final: Here is the final product. You cannot even tell we have iridescent on the wings…but it’s there! I darkened his legs that are not under the wings (part of the furthest one down and a section peaking in between the top wing and the bottom wing) by using my own black mixture; indigo blue, crimson and sap green.

“Blue Dasher Dragonfly from Papoose Lake”
original watercolor
image size: 6.5×4.5
off white mat outside dimensions: 10×8
no frame

Thank you so much and I hope you enjoyed this demonstration of how to paint a blue dasher dragonfly!

Let’s Paint the Crocus!

Oh Boy! Last fall I decided not to be lazy and plant some bulbs and my work just payed off…

Ohhh, ahhhh!  I planted a variety of 12 bulbs; yellow, white, and purple. They make me so happy. It was such a relief to see come color pop out of the ground after a long winter.
So let’s get started and paint these lovely objects of happiness so that we can have a souvenir long after they wilt away.

Step 1: Here is my set up. This watercolor painting is another tiny postcard size piece of work. Easy, satisfying and quick. I taped down my watercolor paper and picture to a wooden board. On my watercolor paper I made a quick sketch in graphite. I pretty much like the photo exactly how it is so that’s how my sketch looks. I’m not too concerned with the position of every single leaf and petal. I don’t want this to turn into work, we’re just having fun.

Step 2: In this step, make an easy quick green watercolor wash. Just barely wet the background with a clean brush, when the paper is no longer shiny add a light green color. While still wet, in a few spots drop in one drop of yellow watercolor paint by lightly touching the paper with your brush. Don’t bush the color on…just touch it. This will melt into the green background and make a nice color variation. If you’re worried it looks too dark don’t worry when it dries it always gets lighter.

Step 3: With a darker green/blue watercolor mixture and a small brush add some leaves while the paper is still wet. The edges of some leaves will blend into the background and we want this to happen. It will give your painting depth. Nice and easy. You can wait until your paper is completely dry to paint some foreground leaves. Such an easy way to make a 3-D effect.

Step 4: Add some color to those petals! Look, I didn’t stay inside the lines and I’m a big person. Who cares! It’s not against the law! Don’t get worked up about being in control, you can be free and let it just happen. Let the watercolor do what the watercolor wants to do…just be the helper.

Step 5:Defining individual petals. One way to show the separation of petals is to lay down the first layer of paint, wait until it completely dries and then paint another layer of the same color with a little less water on top. Or like I did, while the first layer of paint is almost dry, drop in the second color to certain parts of the petal. For example with the purple crocus, I first painted a mixture of rose and cobalt blue. When that was almost dry I painted a stronger mixture (less water) of rose and indigo blue to just a few outside edges of the flower.

Step 6 Final: As always, this step is optional. I love to outline with a micron pen. However, can you see that I chose to not outline a few petals and leaves? Wow! That looks great! It instantly pushed those objects without micron in the distance…how cool! Oh isn’t this soooo much fun???

I hope you enjoyed this tiny step by step watercolor demonstration of how to paint the crocus!

Why do I show demos? Some artists argue that I may be giving all my secrets away. Heck yes! I do this because I believe in the budding artist that cannot afford to go to school. Be it because they do not have the time to escape their full time job or maybe because they do not have the money. I’ve been there. I’m still there. The thing is, you only have one life and if you were blessed with an artistic talent you can’t afford to waist it. Time is ticking!

Let’s Paint the Purple Coneflower!

Let’s do what we love best in the whole world…..paint nature!
Are you with me?

This demonstration is  a watercolor painting of a purple coneflower that I grew in my own backyard! Even though this is a summer flower with spring quickly approaching and buds staring to pop, I’ve been crazy about flowers lately.
So here we go…

Step 1:This painting is tiny. It’s about 5×3.5, a good thing to do when you’re limited on time but want to create something quick. I try to do this every weekend. I have a full time job and have a hard time getting things accomplished during the week. If I don’t do some kind of painting on the weekend, even if tiny, I feel real down like a crab-ass. Nobody wants that! If you have a full time job that’s just sucking the life out of you because it does nothing but pay the bills, don’t give up your hobby. FIND the time on the weekend! Don’t let your creative talent die. Enough preaching….
In this step I sketched out my flower using a regular pencil on watercolor paper that I taped down with artist tape. I didn’t even need to wet my paper because it is so small. Next, I mixed 2 drops of Ox Gall (makes your washed more fluid) in my water, wet my brush and made an indigo blue and earth green mixture wash. Loosely paint your background leaving a section of your painting really light (top section in my painting). This gives your painting dimention and life. Take a higher concentration of paint and just touch spots of the wet paper (in mine it’s the bottom of painting and under one petal). 

Step 2: I used rose for the pink petals. Lightly apply the lightest rose color leaving white space for breathing room. Next, while wet add just a few drops of yellow to a few petals. The yellow will mix with the rose creating a nice peach for variation. Let dry for a few minutes and paint another layer of rose to darken some petals.

Step 3: While step 2 is drying, fill in the center with brown and red. Leave white spots so it’s not flat. Add a darker brown for the base of the center. Paint the stem using sap green and mix a little indigo blue for shadow under the flower on the stem.

Step 4: Here I just added another layer of rose and maybe a touch of crimson to a select few petals.

Step 5:In this step I added a purple mixture to the tips of my petals because that’s how it looked in the picture. It does make it stand out a bit more.

Step 6 Final: This step is optional. I used a micron #3 black pen to outline petals, stem, and just a little of the center. I love it but you don’t have to do this if step 5 looks good to you. Do you see the bottom where the green paint is branching out? That is called a “bloom” in the watercolor world. Some watercolor artists avoid this but I can’t get enough of it! I love the way it looks. This happens when you add a lot of water to your pigment. In my painting it looks like distant grasses and I couldn’t be happier.

This little guy is called, “Goldfinch Landing”. The American Goldfinches like to sit on top and eat the coneflower seeds. I welcome them.

I hope you enjoyed this watercolor step by step demonstration of the purple coneflower!