How to Paint: Watercolor Houseplants | Boston Fern | Audrey Moon | Skillshare

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How to Paint: Watercolor Houseplants | Boston Fern

teacher avatar Audrey Moon, Watercolorist and Modern Calligrapher

Watch this class and thousands more

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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

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Supplies Overview


    • 3.



    • 4.

      Putting it Together Part 1


    • 5.

      Putting it Together Part 2


    • 6.

      Final Thoughts


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About This Class

Welcome to How to Paint: Houseplants edition!

This is the second of the houseplants series: the Boston Fern! Check out the other plants in this series:

  1. Fiddleleaf Fig Plant
  2. Boston Fern
  3. Pothos Plant 
  4. Monstera

Painting the Boston Fern may look intimidating at first, but I'll help break it down into simple steps so that you can paint it with confidence!

Using your observation, sketching, color mixing, and basic watercolor skills, you'll be able to paint this plant with your eyes closed.

Try painting this and then digitizing it (in my other Skillshare class!) to print it on cards, mugs, decals, and more.

Don't forget to make a project for this class so I can see all your wonderful works. If you're on Instagram, please tag me (@ThingsUnseenDesigns), and use #WatercolorWithTUD! I love to feature my students and their work!

See you in class!

Meet Your Teacher

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Audrey Moon

Watercolorist and Modern Calligrapher

Top Teacher

I'm so glad you're here! Whether you're new or a long-time student, I hope there's something for you in my classes.

My creative journey started with the bullet journal. Since then, I picked up watercoloring and calligraphy. It's been a bit of a whirlwind, to say the least! I published my first class on loose florals in September 2017, and have been steadily adding new classes. 

I love meeting new students and making connections. I hope to see you in one of my classes soon.

Thank you, and let's make the world a more beautiful place!


Website ][ Instagram ... See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Intro: Hi there, my name is Audrey and I'm the creative behind thingsunseendesigns. I'm a watercolorist, calligrapher and educator. This is the second plan to be featured in my How to Pin houseplants series, right here on skillshare. This series came about because as a gardener, I love anything that has to do with plants. Growing plants indoors does wonders for your home aesthetically, and for your health. In this class, we'll paint the Boston fern together. This fern is basically of humidifier for your home. It's perfect for the winter time for people who have dry skin like me, and frizzy hair. Fun fact, the Boston Fern is ninth, in NASA's list a 50 air-purifying plants because it can remove formaldehyde. That's pretty cool. In this class, I'll take you through my steps of gathers, supplies, sketching, testing out colors, and finally painting the whole thing together step-by-step. All of the videos are going to be in real time, so you won't miss a bit. I hope you're excited to get started. Let's break out the paints, and dilute it. I'll see you in class. 2. Supplies Overview: Hey, everyone. In this video, I'm going to show you some of the supplies that I will be using in this class. First, I have my Watercolor paints. Some of my favorite colors to use are hookers green dark, sap green, and Payne's gray. My palette is actually custom made and I made it by by using two paints. You can buy these individually online or in craft stores. For a tutorial on how I created my palette, you can go to my blog at I have my watercolor paper, here. I have some a paper towel, you can also use an old rag. For this class, I'm going to be using mainly a size 6 brush. I have a jar of water, and then I also have a small bottle filled with water, and I use this to keep my paints fresh. Every once in a while, I'll just spritz just to keep it nice and moist. Lastly, we'll need a pencil and eraser because we will be doing some sketching. Those are all the supplies that I'll be using. Why don't you grab yours and we'll get started. See you in the next video. 3. Sketching: Hey everyone? In this video we're going to learn how to sketch the Boston fern. Again, I like to do a Google search, and when you scroll through, you see some ferns that are really thick and luscious, and some of them look a little bit scrawnier, some look like they're droopy and some look a little bit perkier. They're definitely destined to be a variety. Our painting is going to be a compilation of different types of photos. You can paint just from one photo if you really want, but I personally like to use these photos as inspiration and then paint my own unique version. Let's get started by sketching some of the leaves. This is the practice one that I made for this class, and here I have some sketches already made. You can see that I tried to provide different perspectives, like in this one it says if you're just looking straight on, this is as if you're seeing it bending away from you. This is a side view, and this is another side view too, but then as it curls and curves, you see the bottom part of the leaves. Just look at the photos or look if you have the Boston Fern at your home, then you can use that as inspiration too, but use your observation skills to paint those different perspectives of the leaves. Let's do a couple just on our own together. The Boston fern when you really look at it, it has two leaves coming off of the stem directly across from each other. Sometimes they're a skinny, long leaf and sometimes they're a little bit wavy. It really all depends on how you're looking at it and what angle you're looking at it from. They go from long leaves at the bottom or towards the center of the plant, and then they get shorter as you go towards the end of the stem. Let's just try sketching this one right here. First I'm going to just draw the stem. The stem is just going to be a very thin long cylinder, very long and thin. Then from there, start sketching out the leaves. You can make it slightly wavy if you want. Again, some leaves are right next to each other, sometimes there's a little bit of a space. Again, it all depends on how you're looking at it. I'm just freely just sketching. I'm not really paying attention to how this really looks. I'm just making sure that they're directly across from each other and getting smaller as I go higher. At the top there tends to be a cluster of leaves, so I'm just going to just draw a circle up there. Okay, let's try another one. Let's try this side view one. You're going to draw the long stem first, then you're going to paint one side of the leaves and then the other side in between some of these leaves. I'll show you what I mean. We draw the long stem first, and then you're going to start with the long leaves first, and then gets smaller. Now to draw the leaves on the other side, you're going to just pretend that you're drawing leaves in between the first ones that you just did. You make them a little bit skinnier to make it seem like they're in the back. If it was really difficult for you to tell, you can also shade it different, shaded a little bit so that you know that those are the leaves in the back. Okay. Makes sense. All right. Let's try another one. We'll try this one over here. This one is cool because it looks like it's bending away from you. You can see we're still starting out with the long leaves, but then as we get further down, the ones on the top are still long, and then the ones on the bottom gets shorter faster. That's how you create that illusion of depth. Let's try that one. The last one we'll practice sketching, is the one where it's curled. You just have it curl in like this, and then once you get over the curve, you want to make sure that you show the underside of the leaves. Then we can also shade these and color them in so that you know that those are the underside. Let's try that one. Alright. Those are some of the different ways to sketch the ferns. Let's do some color mixing. 4. Putting it Together Part 1: Hey everyone, so in this video we're going to do some color mixing and also just paint the Boston fern. I kept my colors pretty simple here. I'm only using a variation of sap green and a mixture of Hooker's green and Payne's gray, my favorites, and then some burnt umber and yellow ocher mixing for the stems. The way that we're going to approach this, well actually, let's go ahead and do the color mixing real quick, just so that we have our color palette. Now that I have my colors, let's talk about how we're going to approach painting the Boston fern. The Boston fern here looks complicated but if you take it step-by-step, it's not that bad. Again, in watercolor you want to work from light to dark, so what we're going to do, if you see all the leaves, they go in a circular formation, they all come out from this central point, so that's what we're going to do. We're going to start by branching off a couple of stems in these four directions and then paint the leaves in the lightest color, and then once that dries, then do the next layer, go around, more stems, go a little bit darker, do the next layer, do the next layer and etc. As you're painting the leaves, you can try to use a combination of the leaves that we sketched, so you can do some that are just straight on like that, you can do some that are curved like this light one right there, you can do some that are spaced out, like this one right there. This one, if you can tell, is from the side view and so you can try to vary it as you're painting. This one, you can see it's got large leaves on one side and then on the other side, it's a little bit shorter, so it looks like the leaves are folded up. Then you can also get creative and then put some of the leaves going behind other leaves. Hopefully that makes a little bit of sense and let's get start. We're going to start by painting the stems first. If I imagine that this is my center, and the general shape that I want for mine is going to be similar to this, so I want the top ones to be a little bit shorter, the side ones to be pretty long and droopy, and then the ones at the bottom to be the darkest and the longest because then it looks like it's coming out of the page, so that's what I'm imagining. To paint the leaves again, we're going to start with our lightest. I've just really diluted my greens, and with my size 6 brush or you could use a size 4 if you wanted, just paint very light leaves, just like that. Now this one, I'm going to make it look like it's curving, so I'm going to make it look shorter as it goes up and not even paint the top ones, so it looks like it's curving away from you. Let's try another one. This one I'm just going to paint straight on, and I'm going to make the leaves a little bit thicker. This one I'm going to paint closer together. At this point, it's okay if you make any mistakes because most likely it's going to get covered by some of the darker colors and darker layers, so don't worry so much right now. Just remember to keep your colors light. Now you want this layer to dry a little bit before we go on, so if it seems too wet just give it some time or you can go at it with a blow dryer, or you can blot it with a paper towel, although you will be picking up some of the pigment, so just be patient, and then when it's dry, draw the next set of branches or steps. Now this is our second layer, you can go a little bit darker if you want, you can still be light because again, if you go too dark, too early, then you can't go back, so you can still keep it light and then glaze over it later or layer on top of it later. But I'm going to go just a little bit darker by adding some sap green, and this one I'm going to do similar to this guy where I have long leaves on one end and then shorter leaves on the other. This one I'm going to make it look like it's completely one-sided. This one over here I'm going to space out the leaves a little bit, so there's still going to be large and long starting out but then as I get close to the tip, it's going to angle it upward a little bit and then space it out. You can do it randomly too. Starting to look like an alien plant or something, but don't worry, we're going to continue adding darker layers. Let's draw the next set of stems. 5. Putting it Together Part 2: This one, I'm going to concentrate a lot of the sap green and hookers green dark in there. At this point you can continue adding maybe two more layers, maybe three. If you can continue to get a variety of greens in there. I'm going to add maybe one more layer and then see how it looks and then maybe add one more on top of that. I got one layer down and now that I'm looking at it, I do want it to look a little bit more balanced, so I might add a little bit more of that darker color, maybe up in this area. I think maybe that's about it. Then I might darken up some of the other leaves, but I don't think I will add anymore except for just one more in this area. Now to balance out the rest of the fern, am going to add some branches. Just brown lines that come out and then just branch out a little bit. You know what, I might just add one more long one. I don't know. It's a struggle sometimes. You want it to look balance, but then you think it is and you're not sure, I'm just gong to leave it as is for now. I think it maybe adding the branches will help a little bit. That's how you paint the Boston Fern. I'll see you in the next video. 6. Final Thoughts: Hey everyone. Congrats on making it to the end of this class and painting the Boston Fern with me. I hope it was helpful as we sketched, tested out colors, and painted each stem of the Boston Fern together. Sometimes with seemingly complicated plants like this, pealing back the layers is helpful in deconstructing it. If you want to take your painting further try painting a basket around it, or painting interior setting and make it hanging from the ceiling, or better yet take my digitizing class and make a fun card out of it with a clever saying like," You're not just a piece of FERN'-iture." Get it. At this time take a moment to start a project so that you can show off your work. If you're on Instagram, feel free to tag me @thingsunseendesigns and use the #WatercolorWithTUD. I love to show off my students work in my Instagram stories, so I hope to feature yours. I always end my classes with a few tips so here are two. The first is take your time and layer. When in doubt, layer. Watercolor is all about layers. Sometimes a painting or components of a painting can be achieved with just one layer, but more often than not, there are several layers to a painting. That's why at first glance, watercolor paintings look really complicated and difficult to achieve and that's because there are probably a dozen or more layers on it. When it comes to your paintings and practicing when you think you're done, try painting one more layer. You can add shadows you can change the color of the leaf. You can do so much with just another layer. Just remember to wait for the previous layer to dry and use less water as you continue to add layers. The second tip is to practice. Don't be discouraged if this is your first time painting the Boston Fern and it didn't turn out so great. It definitely didn't look right for me when I first painted it either. We're all learners and we're all learning together. Just take it step-by-step and don't try to do it all at once. Remember, take it one stem at a time and you'll get there. Before I say a final goodbye, I just want to say thank you for taking my class and I hope to see all of your awesome projects really soon. Please join me in my next class as we paint the Pothos plant together. Until next time. Bye.