Paint with Me: Watercolor Palm Trees for Beginners | Elina Zhelyazkova | Skillshare

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Paint with Me: Watercolor Palm Trees for Beginners

teacher avatar Elina Zhelyazkova, Watercolor Artist

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

9 Lessons (28m)
    • 1. Welcome to Class!

    • 2. Project + Class Overview

    • 3. Materials

    • 4. Sketching + Composition

    • 5. Choosing the Colors

    • 6. Final Project - Painting the Sky

    • 7. Final Project - Painting the Trunks

    • 8. Final Project - Painting the Leaves

    • 9. Final Project - Finishing Touches

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About This Class

Say “Hello” to the Summer and paint this tropical scenery with me!

In this quick and easy class you will learn how to:
- choose an interesting composition for your paintings;
- make your colors look well balanced;
- paint natural looking skies and palm trees.

If you are a beginner in watercolor, this class is for you!

Often beginners find it hard to choose the right colors for their paintings.
Using paints straight from the tube or pan can often lead to unbalanced, unnatural looking results.
In this class I will guide you through choosing colors that go well together and will show you a quick trick that will help you achieve a harmonious and well balanced piece.

Painting a beautiful scenery doesn’t have to be complex or time-consuming, you just need the right guidance and you’ll be enjoying cohesive and natural looking finished paintings.

Join me and let’s paint this easy-breezy piece together!

Materials needed:

- Watercolor Paper – I suggest that you use 100% cotton 300 GSM cold pressed paper. Rough texture will also work.

- Watercolor Paints – a regular set with the basic colors would do;

- Watercolor Brushes – use your favorite brushes;

- White Gouache - we may use it to add some highlights;

- Two jars of water;

- You may need a pencil, an eraser and a ruler;

- Paper towel or a cotton towel for dabbing your brushes;

- Paper tape;

- A board to tape your paper to;

- A palette to mix your paints.

Meet Your Teacher

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Elina Zhelyazkova

Watercolor Artist

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1. Welcome to Class!: Summer is finally here and we all are a bit more relaxed and maybe even lazy, so I decided to start a new series of classes with quick, fun, and easy projects that won't take too much of your time. Hello, friends. My name is Selina, and in this class, we're going to paint a quick and simple tropical scenery. For the past three years, I've been trying to balance a full-time job and my love for watercolor. Usually, I don't have much time at the end of the day, but I still want to sit and take some time for myself. Creating small and expressive works that catch the eye has been the answer to my creative thirst. Creating art doesn't always have to be time-consuming, you can paint a beautiful painting in just half an hour. Every simple artwork can look gorgeous as long as it has a compelling composition and nice choice of colors. In this class, I'm going to show you how to pick the right composition for your paintings. I will also give you some tips on how to make your color palette look cohesive. This will bring your work on a whole new level. Are you ready to paint your quick and easy masterpiece? Meet me in the next video where I will tell you more about our final project. 2. Project + Class Overview: In this class, we are going to paint this quick and easy boundaries and get the blue sky. We're going to start with a very simple drawing and some tips about how to choose a well-balanced composition for your painting. Next, I will show you how I make sure that my colors look cohesive on the paper. This makes a more realistic and sophisticated look. I will demonstrate how you can paint a beautiful soft sky in just a couple of minutes. The final result is these fun and easy boundaries. Meet me in the next video where I will tell you more about the materials you'll need for the class. 3. Materials: Here's what materials you will need in order to complete this quest. First, I will start with the paints. For today's class, we will use only these three colors. These are from Art Philosophy, these are their Artist-Grade Tubes. I really like them. They're very high-quality, very pigmented in bright colors. The colors, I am going to use are Cobalt blue Hue, Hooker's Green, and Permanent Yellow Orange. For paper, I am going to use Fabriano Artistico. This is 100 percent cotton paper, it's 300 GSM, it has nice texture. I recommend that you use 100 percent cotton paper for this class but if you don't have, you can try with cellulose paper too. I will use once again, my big Hake Brush. I love to use it to wet the paper because it's very big and soft and it holds a lot of water. I will use my Silver Black Velver number 10. It's synthetic squirrel mix. It has a very fine point and I can use it to paint vicarious and also I will use it to paint the boundaries. I will also be using some White Gouache for the highlights. For the sketching part, you will need the pencil. I will use my mechanical pencil. Of course, you will need an eraser, I will use my soft eraser. To mix the paints, I will use my ceramic palette. I love to use ceramic palettes because they're easy to clean. I will use a paper tape to tape my paper to this board. Of course, I will use two jars of water, one to rinse off my brush, and one for when I need clean water. These are all the materials you will need in order to complete this class. Meet me in the next video where we'll discuss the composition and we'll start our sketch. 4. Sketching + Composition: Let's start with the sketch. First. I'm going to tape down my paper to the board. It will secure it in place, prevent it from buckling and we'll get me a clean white border at the end. Here's the first tip about composition. Before you start with your final sketch, you can test your ideas on a separate sheet of paper. It could be just a regular printer paper or a sketchbook, it doesn't matter. You can test as many variations of your final sketch by making thumbnail sketches. You can try changing location, size, orientation of your objects and pick the one that looks best. My case, I am going to show the difference between placing my bounds in the middle and slightly off-center following the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds indicates that if you separate your sheet of paper by two vertical and two horizontal lines so that you get equal-sized sections. You should put your main objects on one of these separating lines, or even on the places where they cross each other. This is why the second option looks much more interesting, and this is the one that I'll use for my painting. I'll starting replacing the centers of the two boundaries and I try to position them accordingly. Then I continue with the trunks. I start with a single line, just to tell the direction and the placement of the trees. Then I make several white lines until I get the shape that I want. I repeat the shape by pressing harder with my pencil and then I go over my sketch with a soft eraser. I leave just a faint line that will guide me, otherwise, the pencil will be visible under the watercolor. I won't be making any sketches for the leaves. I will paint them directly with watercolor, but if you want, you can do that. Now, we are ready with the sketch, and in the next lesson, we will prepare our colors for the painting. 5. Choosing the Colors: Here are the colors that I chose for my painting. First, this permanent yellow-orange, it's a bright yellowish-orange. Next one is hooker's green, it's deep, natural green. Finally cobalt blue hue, it's a strong and vibrant blue that is often used to paint skies. Here's the trick I use to make my color palette look cohesive. I add some of the same color to the others. Usually, that makes the color less bright, but they look much better together. In my case, I will add a bit of the orange to the blue to mix the color for the sky. It instantly darkens the color, and it makes it more neutral. Don't worry, it will still look nice as our sky color. Same for the green that we'll use to paint the palm leaves. I'm adding some of the orange and it makes the color even more deep and dark. It takes some of its saturation, but it makes it look more neutral. For the tree trunks, I will mix all three colors together and I get a dark brown. For the highlights, I will just add more orange to the same mix. I'm just squeezing more orange on my palette and I mix it with whatever is left on my brush. This will be my color palette. It may not be that bright and happy as the one on the left, but it will help my painting look harmonious and realistic. In the next video, we'll finally start painting. 6. Final Project - Painting the Sky: Finally ready to start painting. I will start by wetting the whole sheet of paper. As usually, I am taking my big head brush. It will help me to moisten the paper much faster. So I'm going back and forth with my brush and then make sure that I cover the whole paper with water. I need the paper to be well moisten because we are going to start with the sky and we want the sky to be soft and the colors to flow easily. I'm ready with the first step. Now I will wipe the sides of my paper with the tissue because I don't want the water to get back to my paint ink after I've placed the paint because it will ruin my sky. I am already to start painting the sky. I'm taking my silver black velvet. I am taking the blue mix that we already have prepared here. I'll just make some brush marks. I hold my brush very high. This helps me to make more free and natural movement. I leave wide gaps, that will be our clouds. I'm wiping again the sides of my paper. Now I will show you a trick for a nice and smooth sky with minimal efforts. I'm just taking my board and I'm tilting it, and since the paper is very wet, the color start to flow in the direction of the tilt. This help the color to move and to mix, and it gives us very smooth and natural looking effect. You already see the effect. We have some very soft clouds. Here, I'm just wiping the water that is gathering on my paper tape. I try not to touch the paper, but just to soak up the drops of water that are on the paper tape. This is a very nice technique to achieve smooth and the nice-looking skies with minimal effort and very quickly. I tilt the board in all the directions until I get the results that I want. That's it. We are ready with the sky. Now leave it to dry, and in the next lesson we'll start with painting the boundaries. 7. Final Project - Painting the Trunks: Now, my sky is dry and I will start painting the boundaries. I will take away this color that we mixed and I will start filling the shape of the trunks. For that, I am using my Silver Black Velvet number 10 because it holds a lot of paint, but it also has a sharp tip. Notice that I'm using a very thick consistency of paint. I barely added water to it. It kills me to control the paint on my paper. I'm filling the shape carefully. I've fixed some of the lines and now I will take the brown color that we mixed, I will just add a little bit more blue to it. Again I'm using very little water. I'm starting by adding some of that dark mix to the left side of the tree trunk. This is the shadow of the tree trunk. The previous color on the paper is still wet so they mix well. I go over the entire tree trunk and now I help the colors to mix. I am making some horizontal lines. Since we used very little water, we also get this nice texture. I'm taking some more of the dark color and I add few spots here and there. I also add a little bit of that color to the right side of the tree trunk but I try to keep it light because this is the part where the sun is highlighting the tree trunk. I'm adding more blue to the shadow to make it more deep and dark. Now, with the damp brush, I try to soften some of the hard edges that I got. Now, I am ready to continue with the second tree trunk. Again, I'm starting with the light color. I place it mainly in the middle of my shape. Again, I'm using very little water. Now, I'm washing my brush and with the damp brush, I paint the right side of the tree trunk. This is where the sun is shining so we have the lightest part of the tree trunk here. Again, with the dark paint, I'm going over the left side of the tree trunk. I add more blue when I need to make the color darker. Now I'm adding even more dark shadows. Especially the upper part of the pound tree trunk is very dark because this is where the leaves are casting a shadow. I'm going over the entire left side of the tree trunk with the dark color that I mixed. Again, with the almost dry brush, I add some texture. With the damp brush, I'm helping the colors to mix. I'm fixing the shape of the tree trunk, and I smooth some of the hard edges that I got. Some more blue for the dark zones. Here, I will use the lightest color to paint some of the distant boundaries. Am using the same principle, I'll just work less details. 8. Final Project - Painting the Leaves: Now I'm ready to start with painting the palm leaves. I'll mix my green color by adding some of the yellow orange to the ochres green. I will squeeze some pure yellow orange here on my palette, and I will use it to paint the highlights on the list. I start by first making a line for the middle of the palm tree, and then I paint the separate leaves. Again, I'm using very little water, so here is mainly what I'm doing. First, I'm painting a curvy line, and then I drag from that line separate lines that go both sides, and I flip my brush and the end to get these very thin lines. The key here is to use very little water. Here I will have another palm leaf. A really like the effect they get with using this almost dry brush. I get these whimsical palm leaves. I feel that it helps me to add some movement like there is a wind, and the palm trees are moving. Here I will have another one. I'm painting few palm leaves following the same principle and using the same color. You can change the color by adding more or less blue and more or less green. These palm leaves don't need to be perfect because they are not perfect actually in the nature. They don't have perfect shape and some of the leaves are long and some are short, and they're definitely not facing all in the same direction. Now, I will mix a lighter green. I will add some highlights to the leaves. I have more water on my brush now, so I get these more defined lines. I go over the leaves once again and I add more leaves where I feel I need to add something more. They suddenly start to look more realistic and in three dimensional. I will paint another leaf here. Now, I will pick some of the orange. I will mix it here on my palette with a little bit of green, and now we'll use that to add some highlights to my leaves. I will rub my brush on a piece of paper to take the excess moisture off it, and now I'll add some of that color here and there. It gives such a nice effect. On some places I add more and at some places I add less of that color. Now this is how dry my brush is. Now I'm taking almost clean orange. Again, I'm going with dark green, and I add some dark leaves. Here in the middle I have a very dark spot, so I'm just placing few brush strokes with the dark color. I'm going back to the light green now, and I continue with the second palm tree following the same principle. This one is closer to us, so I paint bigger leaves. I add some darker leaves here again. Going with an even darker green. Finally, I add some highlights, so with orange mix. It will give the palm trees a whole new look, and my brush is that dry that, some places it just leave a spot, and I actually think it makes for a very nice effect. But if you prefer, you can use more water and then your leaves will be more defined than crisp. I've quickly painted the distant palm trees following the same principle, but with a lot less details. 9. Final Project - Finishing Touches: Now, we will add some even brighter details by adding some white gouache to our orange mix. We're getting this very bright orange tint. I add a little bit more orange to it. Again, with very little water, I add a few highlights here and there. It makes for a very nice effect, and it makes our palm trees look even more expressive. I take even more white gouache, and I add it to the mix. I'm adding a few strokes here and there just for accent. Few strokes on the distant palm trees too. Now, we'll finally add some spots on the tree trunks. I smear some of the spots with my finger. Finally, adding a few details with almost pure white. Some for the distant palm trees too. I enjoy this process so much that it's so hard to stop, but now I am stopping. Lastly, I will bring back some of the shadows, mainly on the places where I went overboard with the highlight. You can see how the different shades added so much dimension to the palm trees, and they look so interesting, and definitely not flat. They look like they have movement and depth. Here are our easy palm trees. I hope you had fun while painting them, and maybe you have learned something new. Don't forget to post your project in the project section of the class. I'm super excited to see what you'll create. If you post your project on Instagram, don't forget to tag me, and I'll be happy to share your work. If you have a question for me, just post it in the discussion section of the class, and I will get back to you as soon as I can. Until the next class, guys. Happy painting.