Luminous Painting with Watercolor and Ink | Vanessa Lesniak | Skillshare

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Luminous Painting with Watercolor and Ink

teacher avatar Vanessa Lesniak, Social Working Artist

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

7 Lessons (31m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Supplies

    • 3. Blending Exercise

    • 4. Background Wash

    • 5. Painting with Ink

    • 6. Adding Stars

    • 7. FInal Project

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About This Class

This class delves into a really fun technique using watercolor and ink to give your painting a luminous feel to it.  The class is suitable for all levels, from beginner to advanced.  Every step of the process is explained and is easy to follow.

Meet Your Teacher

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Vanessa Lesniak

Social Working Artist


Hello friends,

My name is Vanessa, I am former Social Worker, mom, wife, watercolor paintmaker and artist.  I am weirdly obsessed with all things watercolor and have wrangled my family into my passion.  I have a small business - The Sprout Creative where I sell my artisanal handmade paints.

Our little business is named after our 5 year old daughter, who we nicknamed Sprout (her real name is Laura Eva, I'm not that cruel hahaha).  She loves to paint and create alongside me.  My family inspires so much of the work that I do.


Painting for me is quite intuitive.  Being a Social Worker for 16 years really has changed my life view as well as definition of self care.  Intuitive painting came out of the need t... See full profile

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1. Introduction: Hi. My name is Vanessa Lesniak, and I am so excited to bring you my third skill share class on luminous painting with watercolors and think this technique that I'm going to show you is one of my absolute favorites. And if you follow me over on instagram, you'll see that I've been painting Ah, lot of different pieces using this technique. For those of you that don't know me, my instagram accounts is at Vanessa. Underscore paints underscore. I also have a line of handcrafted artisanal watercolors through my small business called The Sprout Creative. And he can also find me on Instagram at this proud creative. You'll find lots of great goodies there. Lots of tips and tricks and lots of tutorials. Eso sit back and relax. And I really do hope that you enjoy this class. If you do, please feel free to leave me a review and post your project in the gallery. When you're done, Enjoy 2. Supplies: During this class, I will be using some arches. Watercolor paper, £140 cold pressed. This is a cotton watercolor paper, which I highly recommend. I will be using five different colors. Prussian Blue by M. Graham Peacock Blue by my Jello Bright clear violet by my Jello Helio Purple by Cinelli A and Quinacrine Rose by M. Graham. Feel free to use any colors that you wish. They don't have to be these particular colors. I also have a one inch flat wash brush, a size 10 round watercolor brush by Princeton, a size 12 round watercolor brush also by Princeton, and a small size three watercolor brush by Princeton as well. Again, feel free to use any brushes that you have handy and three different sizes. I am going to be using opaque white ink from co pick. You can substitute any ink that you have a jar of water, a white jelly roll pen. Any pen will do that Has white ink and a circle maker. This circle maker is not necessary. I just like to use a circle maker because it really does help me make the perfect circles, but you can use any circular object you have laying around, such as these stacking toys. You can also use the lid of your jar your water jar. If you have any knickknacks around the house, feel free to use that. You can use them to make different size circles, so any any object that you have laying around the house will do. It doesn't necessarily have to be a circle maker. I'm also going to be using some paper towels to dab your brush in between washes and a pencil to outline the circle. 3. Blending Exercise: I'm going to begin this blending exercise using my size 12 around watercolor brush. The size that you're going to use depends on the size of your paper. So the larger your paper, the larger your brush. We're going to begin first with oppression bloom. So you want to take your darkest color on top. Um, and you are going to use it at its full saturation. So at it's deepest home, you can pick again. As I said, any colors that you wish you don't even have to do. Five you can do three or four. This is definitely a personal choice to that Prussian blue. I am going to add some peacock blue, and we are going to start right at the line where the Prussian blue ends and we're going to apply that peacock blue right under it again. You can make the lines as long or short as you want. That's going to be completely up to you. I'm going to go in now with my a bright, clear, violent and again we are adding it right at the bottom line of your peacock blue as he progressed down further. Your colors are going to get lighter. You also want to make sure that you pick some colors that go well together. This next one is the Helio purple, and it is, uh, kind of like a mix between purple and pink. So it goes really well. In between the bright, clear violet and the quinta quit own rose, which we're adding, and now So I purposefully picked these colors because I know from experience that these colors all kind of blend well together. Um, so you definitely want to make sure that you are able to pick colors that go all together without letting the paper fully dry. I'm going to take the Prussian blue, which is our very first color. So you take your first color saturated saturate your brush with it and paint all the way down through the violence. Once you hit the violet, you want to stop, grab a little bit of the violet and bring that all the way down through the helio purple. As you can see here, I'm taking some Helio purple on my brush and bringing that down into the clinic would own rose. So essentially, what I've done is taken to the first color, brought it down into the seconds. Take the third color, brought it down into the fourth and then take the fourth color and brought it down into the fifth. If you taken any of my previous classes, you would have noticed that I'll have said that you don't want to mess with the paints too much when you're laying it down. For this specific painting, I do recommend that you try to get a smoother Grady Int, and in order to do that, you kind of have to have the brush wash over them over the colors a couple of times. If you want to have a brighter paint at the bottom, then I suggest that instead of blending from the dark to the light, you blend from the light to the dark so you blend from the bottom to the top instead of from the top to the bottom. The point of this is just to get a smooth ingredient between the colors so that you don't have too harsh of a line. So go ahead and try this with several color color's with one or two colors with three or four colors. But the process is still going to be the same for this 4. Background Wash: I have taken a piece of my arches paper, cut it in half and taped a town to this white cardboard. You may choose to do that, or you can use it straight from the pad or tape it down to your desk. I'm adding my first layer of pains, which is going to be the Prussian blue on top again. You can add as many colors as you'd wish or his little colors as you wish, and you could make the line variations as long or a short as possible. Under that, I am blending in the peacock blue. Make sure that as your lee in your color, down the top of the peacock blue touches the bottom off the Prussian blue and you can blend it a little slightly with your brush. At this moment, we're just laying the color down. Now we're bringing in the third color, which is the bright, clear violet. We are laying it directly under the peacock blue, and I'm trying to get, um, as much saturation as possible along the edge of it. And in order to get a smoother Grady int, I am blending it up a little at a little bit more of your darkest color on top and bring that down, just a Swede said in the blending exercise. And the reason I'm doing it now, as opposed to after I laid down all of the colors, is because the paper is dry, so I don't want my pains to try to quickly. I want to make sure to do this while it's still wet so that we can get it makes greedy in from it. So I'm grabbing my fourth color now, which is the Helio Purple, and adding it along the bottom edge of the violent. And finally I'm adding, the Quinta quit own rose at the very bottom for this piece. In particular, I wanted to have a brighter, lighter color at the bottom because that's where I'll be placing the clouds Now. You don't have to do it this way. You can make the entire piece darker. You could make the entire piece light that is completely up to you. If you've taken my other classes, you know that I one of the things I like to stay is to ah, use your creativity, use your imagination, do what you feel right at the moment a lot of it is sort of intuition. And, um, you know, you just want to kind of go with what you're feeling at the moment. So right now I am working to achieve a smoother Grady in between the colors. And in order to do that, I need to add a little bit more color on top and bring that color down. The color in the middle was a little too light, as opposed to the bottom in the top. So that's what I'm doing now is just adding more layers of color. One thing to keep in mind as you're adding your layers of color is that you want to do this as your paper is still wet. If you allow your paper to dry, you will get some streaks in it, and you don't want that. You want a nice move, Grady and in the backgrounds so you can see here. There's a little line where the purple meets the blue, that it is extremely dark, and it's much darker than the rest of the paper. So in order to fix that, I'm just going to go in with a dry brush, a clean, dry brush and pull the color out of there, so I'm pulling it up in a pulling it down. You can pull it any way you want and then dry your clean your brush off again. Sorry, and then smooth that paint out. Just move out the paint that you pulled. You can do this as many times as it takes in order to get that pool of pain in the middle away from there. Or you could just leave it that way. If you if you like it, it's not bothering me too much now that it's a little bit later that it waas. So now I want the bottom to be a lot brighter than it actually is. So I'm gonna go in with my queen, acquit own roles at the bottom and bring that color up instead of bringing the purple down into it. If I bring the purple down into it, then it's going to make it a little bit darker. So before we move on to the next step, you want to make sure that your background wash is fully dry. The next step involves adding layers of water on top of your background, so if your paper is even slightly damp. It's gonna pull up a lot of that color, and that's one thing you don't want to. So if you need to take a hair dryer and dry it or just leave it, leave your page paper alone for, uh, you know, half an hour to an hour just to make sure that it's fully dry. Then go grab a cup of coffee and come right back. 5. Painting with Ink: to begin. We are going to take our circle maker or our circular objects and trace a and traced what will be our moon so you can place it, um, anywhere on the paper that you want. It could be heiken below. We can be in the middle. I really love placing my moment on the side for some reason. So that's where I'm putting this one. And since we're going to be working with ink and we want to be able to blend the ink, um, and keep it blend herbal for a while. We need to do it over a Lear off water. So for that, we're going to take any signs brush. At this point, I'm going to use the size 12 and I am going to outline where I put my pencil mark going to outline that with some water, you want to put down enough water where you are able to keep the paper wet, but you don't want to flood the paper with water either. As you are transitioning between the colors, you want to clean off your brush so that you don't pull any of the color down into the lighter ones. So In this case, you don't want to pull the blue of the purple down into the pink. I'm going to take my ink and swish my brush in there, and that is definitely the technical term. Swish your brush in the ink. You're gonna make sure that you have a loaded brush full of ink, and the way you can tell that it's just to take a look at the tip. If the tip of your brush is white, then you are okay to start. The next step is to outline the moon with the white ink, and this is where it's important that your paper is still wet, because the only way that we can continue working effectively with this ink is on the wet paper. Once the paper dries, it's much harder to move the ink around. You want to go in with a light touch. You don't want to press too hard because we don't want a thick, bold outline around the moon. We just want a very thin one. Wash your brush off, make sure to get all the ink out of it, and this is where the fun begins. Toe happen. You want to pull all the pain away from the edges. Ah, and you want to have as thin as edge, and you want to have as thin an edge as you can possibly get. You want to give it a glowy effect, and in order to do that, you want to make sure to use enough water where the ink just pulled away from the edge. And if you can see here, I accidentally dipped my paintbrush in some purple. So we're trying to get rid of that. I'm gonna move on to a bigger brush again in order to continue to pull the pain out and what the rest of the paper. So the key, the key to not lifting up the under layer of pain, is to not grub the paper too much. So you're going to add a light layer of water and just gently brushing over the paper. Don't scrub too much. Otherwise, the under layer is gonna come up at some white ink to the brush, make sure it is very saturated, and then just put little dollops of it anywhere within the inside of the moon, wet your brush and start to disperse that white ink You're gonna have to keep going in to clean off your brush, because that will give it sort of a misty look. If you keep the ink on your brush, all that's gonna happen is that you're gonna be dragging the ink across the entire piece and you're gonna end up with a white moon. So if you keep cleaning your brush in between, you're taking some of that Inca way. Um, and off of your paper. You want to repeat this a few times, you're going to put a nice dollop of white ink on your moon are on the inside. You're going to thoroughly clean your brush off with water, and then you are going to blend out the edges. And when you see that you're beginning to pull a lot of white paint across your paper, that's when you clean your brush off again. So continue to do this until you're satisfied with the way that it looks. You can leave some areas with very Bright White Inc and other areas that are very soft. That and result is completely up to you. If there are areas along the perimeter of the moon that have lost some of the white pink saturation. You can at this time go in and add them, or you could leave them without it. Sometimes I really like the look of it where they're just little patches that you can't really see the white or the outline of the moon. If you do choose to go back to outline parts of the moon, make sure that you also go back and, um, dispersed that ink a little with the water. You don't want the outline to be very thick. You wanted us thin as possible. We're going to switch to a bigger brush and we're gonna add a little bit of depth to your moon. So it doesn't just look like a pleat with missed in it. So you're going to take the color that's on the background layer and at that on top of the moon, making sure to blend the edges as usual so that we don't have any hard edges. And you want to do that. Insurgents basis in certain areas. Um, just kind of eye wall. It doesn't have to be everywhere, but you want to add a little bit of depth and you want to look, you want it to look as if, Um, the misty nous is kind of moving around the moon, where you can see light and dark through it. And in order to make this an effective look, you definitely have to blend those edges because you want the misty cloud, the misty clouds to look soft. So in this, in this piece, I've added three different spots so that I can show you three different examples. The 1st 1 was with the very dark blue. The middle one was with the purple and in the bottom. One was with the pink, and in all three cases, I made sure to match the color that's underneath the moon with the color that I'm putting on top. Now we are going to start working on the clouds and the clouds. Technique is nearly identical to what we did. The move with the moon, so you're first going to start with a layer of water. And when I'm doing the clouds, I like to put the layer of water kind of like in the pattern that I'm going to put the clouds just to give me kind of like a rough visual off what it's going to look like. So I am lightly adding the water. You want to make sure not to lift any of the pain underneath and then saturate your brush with the ink and drop that ink along the edges of the water and these air clouds so you can put a place them in any pattern you wish you can. At a time. You can add a few that is completely up to you. Once I have added the initial wash of ink over it that I'm going to do exactly as I did with the moon, you're going to rinse your brush off, and with a clean brush, you want to blend the edges out, and once you see that you're beginning to pull a lot of the white ink across the paper, that's when you want to go back in and rinse out your brush. You wanna have. You want to have areas of bright white and areas of soft, misty white. In order to make this piece stand out, he can go further up with your white or you can keep it underneath the moon. The most important step during this entire process is to Prewett the paper you want to Prewett the area where you're going to be adding the white, so continue this until you are satisfied with your overall peace. Keeping in mind that these air clouds, they could be fluffy and there is no rhyme or reason to them, you cannot make a mistake with them. If you begin to notice that you don't have enough areas where there are bright white, um, splotches of the clouds, then you should go in and add some you don't want to add to many because you just want to give it kind of the appearance of a little bit of light touching the tops of the clouds. Now, after I finished working the area around the moon, it didn't notice that the very bottom of my paper was a little bit claim. So, of course, I like to fiddle with things to no end. So I am going ahead. And, uh, so I am going to continue adding some clouds at the bottom because I can't style and remember that you don't want to keep dragging the whites across the entire paper. So keep in mind that you should be going back in to clean your brush off every so often because as you blends out the clouds, the white ink sticks to your brush and you don't wanna. You don't want to drag that across hero all of your paper and you thought I was done. But I am not. What I really like about this last cloud that I'm adding is that you can sort of see the edge, the bottom edge of the moon shining through, and I'm blending it out just a little so that its not as bright, but I'm going to keep that visible. And finally, I am adding a few finishing touches a few areas of bright white to stand out against the clouds. Since my moon is still fairly wet, I'm gonna go back into it and make the line a little bit thinner. Um, after taking a step back and looking at it through the outer line or the lining of the moon , it's just too thick for me. Time to go back in, and the only reason that I can do this is because the moon is still wet. Once it dries, there's nothing that can be done. I'm also adding in a little bit more depth to the moon by putting in drops of the background lier color. Okay, now this layer of the painting is finally done. I think I'm satisfied with what I see. So I'm going to let this peacefully dry before we move on to the next step which is adding the stars. 6. Adding Stars: with the same white ink that we've been using. We're going to take a small brush and add in the stars to begin with. We're going to cover the areas of the clouds and our moon so that we don't get like wet ink splattered on it. You're going to take our small brush and swish it in the ink, making sure that it is fully saturated and tap it against another brush for controlled splatter. You can use any method for this. Um, I prefer the toothbrush method, but I wanted a bit more control over where I put my stars. Since the paper tie will covered up some parts of the sky, I am going to manually add in some stars with the white jelly roll pen, and you can use any type of white pen. Um, it doesn't have to be the jelly roll. The jelly roll was just the first thing I grabbed from my pencil case. So you just manually docked them in until you're satisfied with. And with that, your luminous painting with watercolors and ink is done. The next video. We'll have some instructions on the final project 7. FInal Project: Thank you so much for joining me in the class today. This has been one of my favorite techniques that I've applied so far. And if you follow me over on instagram, you'll see that I have been using it quite a bit. So for your final project, I would just love to see your take on a similar painting. You don't necessarily have to use the colors or even the scenery that I used. Um, just used the techniques. And if you post them on instagram, please make sure to tag me so I can feature you in my story. I'm looking forward to seeing all of the great projects coming out of this class. Thank you.