Wednesday, January 28, 2015
WATERCOLOR WORKSHOP: Botanical Illustration
This step-by-step project is inspired by our featured woman artist for January -- Maria Sybilla Merian.
To learn more about Merian, and see some of her work,
For this project, I used one of Merian's drawings for reference (for the butterfly and caterpillar), and I also used one of my own "doodles" (for the red currant plant).
Her illustrations were usually engravings that were later colored by her, with watercolors. We will be doing an ink drawing and then coloring it with watercolor pencils.
You will need a piece of watercolor paper, approx. 8" x 10", mounted on a board. You will also need some watercolor paint (Raw Sienna, only), a few brushes, a black ink marker (like a Flair pen with a fine point), and some watercolor pencils. Use a marker that is NOT waterproof, because we will be using some water brushed near the ink, in order to cause it to smear -- to get some shading.
Begin your painting with a wet-in-wet underpainting. Prepare a bit of raw sienna on your palette, mixed with just enough water to liquify it. Brush clear water onto your paper -- wet the entire surface. Remove excess water, and then brush Raw Sienna onto the paper. This does not need to be even -- and it should be fairly light. Then, let this dry.
When this is totally dry, do your pencil drawing . . .
Now, ink your lines with the Flair pen (or other black marker with very fine point, which is not waterproof) . . . No need to erase the pencil lines.
Using a small round (pointed) brush and clear water, add some shading to your drawing. Do this by touching the tip of the brush to the ink line. Be sure to not have too much water on the brush, or you'll make a big mess. Give it a try on the caterpillar . . .
Move on to the fruit, and do the same thing with each of the currants . . .
Continue in this way, until you have added shading to every shape . . .
Choose a few different colors of watercolor pencils. Use at least two colors per hue -- in other words, 2 reds, 2 greens, 2 earth tones, 2 blues. (I show some white here, but I didn't use it.)
Let's start with the blue on the butterfly. Apply both of the blue colors, using a light-to-medium pressure. Since we are working on watercolor paper, which has some texture, the pencil will not cover well. That will not matter.
Now, use your brush with the clear water, and cover each blue shape with water.
Complete the butterfly, by coloring with the blue pencils, and brushing each shape with the clear water. And, then finish with a tan or gold color, near the edge of the wings -- leaving some of the shapes "white".
Move onto the caterpillar, and use a gold or tan and a burnt sienna, with a little red for his "head?" (Now, if this were a true botanical illustration, I would know exactly what kind of butterfly and caterpillar this is. But, it isn't, and I do not.)
On the currants, start by coloring the middle of each one with an orange pencil . . .
. . . and finish coloring each one with a red pencil . . .
And then, wet each currant with the clear water. It's like magic!
For the leaves, color half of each section with a warm green . . .
Finish coloring each leaf section with a cooler (bluer) green . . .
Then, finish the leaf sections with the clear water . . .
Finish your botanical illustration by adding tan and brown to the branches and stems . . .