Loose Watercolor Leaves - Fun and Easy Way to Paint a Botanical Frame | Ana Victoria Calderón | Skillshare

Loose Watercolor Leaves - Fun and Easy Way to Paint a Botanical Frame

Ana Victoria Calderón, Artist

Play Speed
  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x
5 Lessons (1h 2m)
    • 1. Intro / Preview

    • 2. Supplies

    • 3. Practice

    • 4. Final Project - Part 1

    • 5. Final Project - Part 2

57 students are watching this class

About This Class

Welcome to Loose Watercolor Leaves - Fun and Easy Way to Paint a Botanical Frame with me, Ana Victoria :) 

This is a fun, care-free, simple class, designed to help you relax by painting beautiful watercolor leaves using your paints and a round brush- great for beginners. No drawing involved. This is a popular theme while painting with watercolors and every artist has a specific take on how to paint them. I want to share mine with you!

I will start off by sharing what supplies I’m using, then we will dive into practice sessions and we will finish this class by painting a watercolor botanical frame with an elegant lettering detail. This subject matter is great for creating wedding invitations, greeting cards or paper goods and stationery in general. 


I hope you enjoy my simple method of painting these loose foliage motifs! I can’t wait to see what you make, and as always, feel free to ask questions in the class discussion board. I’ll do my best to get back to you promptly. 

Have fun and enjoy,




I suggest the following classes to dive deeper into topics related to this class:


Film and edit:

The Stills


Chapeau by Panda Transport

Like the music?

Listen to more Panda Transport on Spotify, iTunes & Youtube


1. Intro / Preview : Hello, my name is Ana Victoria and I am a watercolor artist, author and teacher here on skill share and today I'm going to teach you how to paint loose watercolor leaves. This is a really fun and simple class. It's not meant to be taken too seriously. Painting these types of motifs is very relaxing and fun and there's not too much stress that goes into it. And I'm going to start you off with a very simple warm up exercise. And then we're actually going to create a little watercolor border using some beautiful green leaves that you can add some lettering onto later on. And I'm super excited to see all your projects. This is a very fun class, and I can't wait to see we make. 2. Supplies : [MUSIC] The supplies you will need for this class are watercolor paper. I am using canson cold press, watercolor paper. It's nine by ten inches this is the size that I really enjoy using. I also have my watercolor sketch book here. This is a molar skin watercolor album. I really like the specific paper for travel. You might want to have maybe some watercolor sketch book for practice rounds. We're going to practice a little bit and then we'll do a final project. You're going to need watercolor brushes. Round brushes with the pointy tip are really good for painting the specific leafy shapes. I am using Princeton. Let me see what other brand this is, this one is royal. Any, type of round point watercolor brushes will work. I also have a liner brush here, which is for smaller details, which can also come in handy. Then you will need some water. You will need obviously some paper for dabbing excess paint. Then you will need some watercolors. Here is my center Lear pen set. You can also use tubes or liquid watercolors. Any type of watercolor is fine. You will also need some washi tape, and some scissors. For this class you do not really need pencils because, there will not be drawing. In this class, we're going to do everything loose freehand. So that's basically it. Let's start painting. [MUSIC] 3. Practice: We're going to dive, directly into painting some watercolor leaves. This class is going to focus around watercolor leaves, and you will see that they are super easy to paint. All it takes is a little bit of practice, and just getting to know your brushes basically, this style of painting is extremely free and liberating. There's not too much stress to it, it's the loose botanical type of painting, so it's, it's actually quite different than the work that I usually do, which is more structured and there's a lot of pencil guides to it. This is just totally free and it's a really fun way to observe what your water paints or your watercolor paints are actually doing for you, and I think it's really important to share the way that I actually mix my watercolors. As you can see, we'll be using a lot of greens in this class and i wanted to leave my watercolor pen set as is, the way that it looks pretty much every day while I'm working with my paints, and you'll notice that this entire section is pretty much full with different colors and watercolors reactive, so all of this paint can be used again and again until it's pretty much gone. I wanted to share with you that although I have some basic pen set greens here already, I have a mix here of different watercolor greens that I've been using and a little extra yellow over here and some ocker, and then I have a little bit of blue here that I used for a previous project, but I'm not going to wipe this off because this is good paint. It's all useful paint that I can continue to use, so you will notice that usually with a pen set, you will have different sections. This is how I work, at least where this is all my greens, and then this is all my yellows, and then here's my purples and indigo, and I have some reds and warm colors over on this side, e t cetera. This is just for you to also, have a look and see how a palette will actually look like once you've been working on it for a while, and if you are not a beginner, you of course, already know this, but this class is meant to be used for, for anyone. I have just some watercolor paint here and you can see that I'm laddering it up, I'm sort of seeing what I have here, i have kind of what, a turquoise base, and it's always good to have like this here, a little test sheet on the side, so you can see what your colors look like. Here on the bottom I have a little bit of, this is some Dr. P h. Martin, I believe it's Juniper Green, i like that color a lot, and it's kind of blended in with some other greens and emeralds and it's pretty vibrant. This is just to test out to see what I have going on here and this is, I really like this color here, it's a cascade green, by Daniel Smith. Which is a really cool color, because it has two pigments in it, so as you add more water, it sort of separates and drives in really fun ways. It's just nice to test out your palette a little bit, for warmer greens, I like to add in a little bit of ocker and just sort of blend those together. That's just a fun way to test them out, all right, so this class will be using a lot of greens. We're going to just focus on leaves and in another class, I will teach you about flowers, this one is just leaves. It's very fun and very relaxing, so I'm also going to lather up a little bit of some of my pen set paint here, and have a kind of emerald base here, i am using a round brush with a pointy tip. The size of your brush will pretty much alter the size of your leaves, that's basically how this works. We're going to start painting some very simple leaves and what you're going to do is just observe and just relax and just do as many of these different versions of leaves that you can right now we're just using a sketchbook paper, so it's not really the final project, it's just for you to see what this looks like and the way that I hold my brush and the pressure and the amount of water is going to be really important. The very first leaf is just basically, a classic appointee tip and then it goes down like so, and then on the other side, you will be able to integrate that. Very simple, another version of this very simple leaf is, I like to have one site to be heavier in one color, and then on the other side I'm just going to grab some ocker, and push down there. All my water is still wet, and this way you get a little bit of space between your leave for the vine, some white space, and you have two different colors, it all really blend in nicely. Let's do another version of this with a little bit more ocker, and the longer, that you press down on your paper like this, you will have a longer leaf as well. Let's go in, let's try a little bit of this Daniel Smith on the other side, so this mollusk paper, I've noticed that sometimes I can see has a little bit of like waxy texture sometimes and you'll see that some areas, don't really get as much pigment as others like for example, these little details here, but that's fine don't, don't get stressed out if you see small imperfections or watercolor in this style especially, is meant to be very loose and free and I mean is just so fun to paint because as a watercolor strives, you'll get these cool textures and it'll just all be part of the flow-y loose texture. If you do shorter leaves like this, so if your brush stroke is shorter, you will just have a shorter leaf like this, and if you're not into leaving this extra space, just basically don't leave it in there. I'm going to use another brush so you will see the difference size makes as well. Here I am going down like this, then while paint is still wet, you can also go in and add some smaller stems. These are all pretty static, but if you want to draw a leaf that has a little bit more movement to it, you can always go in and apply some pressure and then blow out, release the pressure. Pressure, pressure, pressure, loosen it up. While the paint is still wet, you can even play around with the tip a little bit. So see how beautiful the texture starts to look already. I'll do another one of these so you can observe how my hand is working. So point, pressure, pressure, pressure, pressure, moving around, releasing and less pressure. Then here I am adding pressure and I'm leaving that small space in the center, which is just a personal favorite of mine. I think this looks really, beautiful. Then you can start to do a little bit more of working with compositions with your leaves. A trick that I like to do is have a liner brush like this. And I'm getting some wet paint here, and I am going to have a really fine line here. That's going to be my guide. I'm going in with a little bit [inaudible] , and I am basically just doing the tip and then applying some pressure and then releasing the tip, pressure, release. Pressure and release it's all game of pressure and release. And these are the most simplest forms that you can paint in this style, and it will also be similar when we do the watercolor florals in a different class. It's all the same guide. A tip, some pressure, a tip and some pressure and then a release. These are pointy edges, but you can also do rounder edges if you don't lift your brush up like this, but have as an inclination and then release there. See the difference? When I hold it up like this, like at a 90 degrees angle, you will get a tip and pressure and a tip. The way that you hold your brush will really indicate the shape of your leaves. You can tell here how this one has a round tip and this one has a pointy tip. I'll do a pointy tip on this side now. You can also start to add in a little bit more color, and you can also do them either more far apart or more together. I always like to sort of, have them grow smaller and smaller as we approach the bottom of the stem. See, that's almost like you can also paint a larger version of this and it would be similar to a palm tree. We can also do a smaller version of this and it will look, quite different, where we can do shorter leaves. Again, I'm doing a very thin line and we will go in and do shorter leaves here, just like so. Shorter leaves. You'll start to get pretty once you get the hang of, and the comfort of holding your brush in a certain way, you will be able to paint these section pretty fast. And I want to show you what it looks like if I hold my brush differently, maybe I want to hold it to this side and have larger leaves like this, or irregular. It all really depends on how you hold your brushing and don't be afraid to experiment with this. So that's another type of leaf. You can also do a leaf that has pointy edges. I'm going to grab some paint over here, and lather this up. So with some pretty wet paint here, the way that I like to do this, is that I go in with some very watery paint and take it down that way and then grab some more water and do points, like so. As the paint is still wet, you can even integrate some different colors in here. So this is a lot of wet on wet painting as well. You can even go in and add a little bit more paint to certain areas if you feel it's necessary. Then I like to go in on the other side and paint super close to the edge here. If you need practice doing those, go ahead and take my modern water colored techniques class. There's an activity there called close and precision. And I would practice that as many times as necessary if you feel that you're having trouble painting straight lines like this. That's another type of leaf and you can also have a little bit of a smaller version of that leaf. I'm going to grab a little bit of blue because I want to make a darker color here. You can also do a simpler type of leaf like that. You can just do something like this while your paint is still wet. I'm actually going in here and making the tips a little bit or you can go in and actually sort of like a monster shape as well. I'm a big fan of leaving that little space in the middle. This is a really noble type of shape. It's hard to mess it up here and that's why it's so relaxing to paint, because the medium does so much for you as is just the beauty of the watercolors on their own. I'm going to use my smaller brush here to show you how the size of your brush is really going to change the overall appearance of your painting in general. For example, sometimes I like to do details in darker shades of green with smaller leaves and I personally really love working with smaller brushes in general. It's just the style of my work looks like that, It's a little bit more precise and confined, I would say, so I feel really comfortable with small brushes, so this is a number one brush. Another cool detail that you can do with watercolor botanical is just adding some simple foliage elements to your art, so we're going to do just some dots using some green here. Just some water colored dots like so. I'm just adding these up and around like this and then I like to grab a liner brush and remove any excess water because these are charged with a bunch of water already, and this is a clean brush. It doesn't even have any paint on it and I just like to go in and sort of pull some of this water towards the stem in the center, like so, and you can add them some smaller ones so just a nice detail. Now that I'm using this smaller brush, I'll show you examples of what this looks like using a smaller brush as well. I'm just going to go in here and paint a really tiny or version of this and I like it because I just really like the way the water works with smaller strokes and that's totally me and totally personal some people really enjoy huge flowy brush strokes and I don't know, I kind of like smaller. For example, up here. Let me see if this is is dry enough here and seem I'm using this leaf and movement here. Version of that. Here is sort of like the $ shape leaf, which is circles like this, can be like this or like that so the very basic examples here. I don't really like looking at reference images too much when I paint these types of leaves because I don't even name them and don't even worry about what they are, I just really have fun with them. This looks like a peanut. Let me just add some more color in here. I really like using ochres and turquoise a lot in mixing those together. I'm just sort of filling this in with more leaves with a smaller brush so you can see what that looks like and this is going to be totally up to you the size that you like using. That's it. This is your botanical practice. In the next video, I am going to show you a fun project that you can do with an actual botanical leave border. I'm going to go ahead and let this dry and grab a fresh piece of paper. 4. Final Project - Part 1: Now I have my paper prepared for our actual botanical project here. As you can see, what I did is, I just traced a really simple rectangle in the middle of my paper. Then I went around with washi tape and pasted all around. Stuck some tape just inside each edge. I started out with scissors. Then I remembered that using an exacto knife is way better, so you can cut the edges of the tape around each corner like that. I've done a ton of really fun projects using this technique including wedding invitations, greeting card projects, et cetera. It's such a beautiful way to create watercolor border, especially since we're not using a pencil to guide us. Like we did in our practice, what we're going to do is paint some leaves all around this area here. The masking tape will actually block this area here so that we're free to paint around it. Then when we lift it up, we'll have a really beautiful border there. You can paint horizontally or vertically. It's really up to you, whatever shape you can do if you know how to use masking fluid. You can also do that with a circle instead of a rectangle or any shape that you like. Let's get started here. I know there's a bunch of different classes out there that will teach you how to paint loose watercolor botanicals. I actually hesitated a little bit before teaching this, but I think that each artist has a unique way of doing this style of art. I thought it would be interesting to share how I do this and the smaller details that I like to add in the very end. Which I think are interesting too. One thing that I wanted to share with you is to see how cool this paint started drying here with some excess water. Those are the effects that we will get within our botanicals along the way. This is a good thing. Some people freak out when you get out the cauliflower effect with watercolors, but it's actually part of the technique that's so beautiful. It's something that makes watercolors extremely special. I'm going to actually flip my palette around this way. I'm going to be using these tones anyways. Usually when I paint a project like this, I start by thinking out of the larger leaves that I'm going to be using. Here, I think I will start out with some very long loose leaves here. I'm basically going to go in and start painting. I'm going to do exactly the type of art that we did in the practice rounds. I'm going to paint in a circular motion. In this direction, it's not circular, it's rectangular, in this edge around the paper. I'm going to work on this for a bit and then I will come back with some commentary. 5. Final Project - Part 2: [MUSIC] I just finished painting the plants around my border here. They're the exact same type of plants that we did in that little warm up. You can just see that, I did a composition with them now. And it's looking very joyful and, I like the movement that I have around there. I mean, the amount of saturation you want to add to this is up to you. I tend to be more of a working and working all around the area, kind of person. Some people like theirs more free and flowy, and maybe just a couple of details on each side. It's really up to you. And one of the reasons that I thought it was going to be interesting to teach this class of a very, it's quite simple, the subject matter. But, I think that every artist has their own special details that they like to do to their artwork. And some artists I've seen, that like to have some extra water to the edges to make it all extra flowy. In my case, something that I really like to do after painting these types of arrangements is to add a little bit of splatter. And I'm just going to test that out a little bit here, to see that it works. And I just grab a little bit of watery paint and with a flat brush and I'm just going to just splatter around the edges a little bit. And it's going to look really cool with the masking tape here. Sort of. So again, I think that the trick to making unique art, is always just finding these extra touches that make your artwork have a signature style to them. And, I don't know, I just instinctively always like to add a little bit of splatter to my artwork. Especially with this loose type of style. And it's nothing too fancy. It's just a little bit of detail here. Let me add a little bit of more splatter with the ocher, testing it out first. And then, something else that I like to do with splatter, is going with a little bit of white ink. I have some white ink here. Which is the brand Copic. I like this brand too because it reactivates with water on your palate once it's dry. It's just always really handy for me to have, especially since I'm a big fan of splatter here and for me, a little bit of white splatter always is a wink of cosmic dust. If you guys have been following me for a while, you know that I am very big on everything cosmic. These details I also feel make my artwork recognizable and different artists have different things that they like to do. Some artists maybe draw a specific type of outline to everything that they do or as I said, they have a specific color palette or they like to maybe blend in some other watercolors with extra water on the edges, whatever it is. It's fun to find something that you add to every piece of work that you do. Right now, what I'm going to do is just let the splatter dry a little bit. It won't take too long, maybe a couple of minutes and then I'll come back with you and we can lift up the washy tape and maybe try out some lettering for our final detail. We are done. We're done with our botanical art work. Now, the best part of this whole activity is actually lifting up your watching tape or your masking tape and revealing these super crisp edges. There's a couple of different things you can do with the border design like this. You can also play around with it and maybe even if you have a steady pulse, you can maybe paint in extra order of just a simple line on the interior. If you like using gold paints or something like that you could also add in some fun details there. You have to be pretty careful when you lift this up. You don't want your tape to pick up any of the paper. There is your masterpiece, your piece of art. It's a border. You can either maybe write some lettering in here or you can scan this as is and then maybe add in some text that you need. This is really good for something like stationary or stuff,or any greeting card or invitation. I think what I'm going do now is just paint a word that I've been drawn to during meditation practice. That word is bliss. I am just going to use my pencil very lightly. I'm referring to a lot of past classes here because these shorter classes are meant to be quicker workshops. I've done tons of foundational classes before this. There's one called Unique lettering with watercolors. In that course, you will develop your own unique lettering styles so I recommend taking that if you have more interest in painting letters using your own handwriting as a guide, which is the way that I do my lettering. With this, we finish our botanical water color class. I hope that you learn something new here. Painting these styles of leaves is quite simple and I think even beginners will find this pretty easy. I think that composition is something that people really get stuck on and it's really intuitive as well. Don't get frustrated if you can't think of new shapes to paint or just try maybe in a sketch some different layouts. Another option would be to maybe just paint two different borders on one side or use masking fluid for a circle in the middle or there's tons of different things that you can do. But I'm really happy with how this one turned out and please feel free to share yours. You can use all different kinds of color palettes for inspiration. This is just green because it's the obvious choice but maybe you're doing autumn leaves and it can be a really cool mix of browns and ochres and it's just up to you and what you're drawn to. Thank you for taking my water color class and I hope to see you in another class in the future.