Monday, January 13, 2014


Medium: Watercolor pencils & watercolors
Size: 9x12 inches

I was originally going to work on my companion piece to Nocturne today, and I did get a good start on finalizing the sketch, and then laying down the first wash. But the wash was taking a long time to dry, so I decided to scratch my botanical illustration itch. Been a while since the last piece. 

Snagged a few samples from my yard, since I really liked the woody seed pods of this plant.

After sketching, I very roughly colored with watercolor pencils, getting the basic colors blocked. Yellow veins, Greenish tones for most of the body of leaves, with some blue highlights.

Then I took a wet brush and painted all the areas, keeping the light/dark areas mostly separated to avoid too much blending.

After the water:

When that dried, I started going back in with watercolors to get more subtlety to the coloration. I like that the watercolor pencils add another layer of texture that feels organic and fitting to the subject matter, which is why I use it a lot for these types of works.

Tummy growled. 
Food break.
Yes, that is my fox plate staring at you with leftover Chinese dim-sum on it.

Break done, back to work. More layers of watercolors painted onto the lower dark glossy leaves.

I constantly refer to the sample when drawing. There's something about having a specimen in hand that you can turn around and examine from different angles, and really get in close to see the fine webwork texture of veins in the leaves. I've tried drawing botanical pieces from photos, but I always feel like I'm missing stuff that the camera didn't capture.

Went back and forth with watercolors and watercolor pencils, working in more depth of color.

Mixing a nice deep green....

Towards the end I add very select touches of highlights with a white gel pen.

And blend that in with a wet brush.

And for the very final step I use a fine lined neutral-toned gel pen. I like this moss green in particular, but I've also used browns and grays in other pieces. I like the sort of graphic quality it lends to do select outlining.


  1. I love these botanical paintings. Reminds me of my college days. I majored in biology. I took every plant and animal class I could.

  2. Wonderful to see your technique here. Your botanical illustrations are always favorites. Thanks for sharing! :)