Autumn Watercolors: 5 Easy Fall Paintings | Peggy Dean | Skillshare

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Autumn Watercolors: 5 Easy Fall Paintings

teacher avatar Peggy Dean, Top Teacher | The Pigeon Letters

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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.



    • 3.



    • 4.



    • 5.

      Autumn Branch


    • 6.

      Autumn Tree


    • 7.

      Abstract Loose Florals


    • 8.

      Project Time!


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About This Class

Autumn is such a lovely time of year. The air gets cool and crisp, the leaves get showy with their vibrant colors, and everyone's all about some pumpkin spice [fill in the blank]. This class features 5 easy projects for you to really embrace sweater weather by grabbing a cup of tea and sitting back with some paints and a paintbrush.

In this class, you'll learn to paint five items:

  • Pumpkin
  • Acorns
  • Autumn Branch
  • Autumn Tree
  • Abstract Autumn Flowers

Let's get started!

For your reference, here are some recommended supplies:


Legion Stonehenge Aqua Cold Press


The Pigeon Letters Cruelty-Free Round Brushes


Daniel Smith Dot Chart

Daniel Smith - Burnt Umber
Daniel Smith - Transparent Brown Oxide
Daniel Smith - Hansa Yellow Medium
Daniel Smith - New Gamboge
Daniel Smith - Cadmium Red Medium Hue
Daniel Smith - Buff Titanium
Daniel Smith - Indian Yellow
Daniel Smith - Pyrrol Scarlet 
Daniel Smith - Perylene Green
Daniel Smith - Garnet Genuine

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Peggy Dean

Top Teacher | The Pigeon Letters

Top Teacher

Snag your free 50-page workbook right here!

Hey hey! I'm Peggy.

I'm native to the Pacific Northwest and I love all things creative. From a young age I was dipping everything I could into the arts. I've dabbled in quite an abundance of varieties, such as ballet, fire dancing, crafting, graphic design, traditional calligraphy, hand lettering, painting with acrylics and watercolors, illustrating, creative writing, jazz, you name it. If it's something involving being artistic, I've probably cycled through it a time or two (or 700). I'm thrilled to be sharing them with you!

Visit my Instagram for daily inspiration: @thepigeonletters, and head over to my blog for more goodies curated just for youuuu.

I'm the author of the best selling... See full profile

Level: All Levels

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1. Introduction: Hi guys, I'm Peggy Dean and I am the founder of the pigeon letters. This class that I'm bringing you today is all about watercolor projects having to do with autumn. We're going to utilize the beautiful vibrant colors of fall to create leaves and trees, and pumpkins and acorns and it's going to be so much fun. You're also going to learn some other watercolor painting techniques that you can create different types of textures and finishes that will really stand out for exactly what you're trying to create. Very exciting stuff. If you have never touched watercolor before, no problem, I'm going to walk you through the process of how to utilize your brush correctly, exactly what strokes we need to go over to accomplish the techniques that I mentioned. If you have been water coloring for a while, this is also the class for you. We're going to be going over some additional fun little tricks that you can use in your watercolor journey. Not to mention the fun new paintings that you're going to create, which is going to be really fun. I can't wait to jump in, so let's get on started. 2. Materials: This class is pretty straightforward. When it comes to watercolor supplies, you'll need watercolor paper. This is a Legion Stonehenge cold press. You want to make sure your watercolor paper is 140 pounds or higher, this ensures that it will be able to withstand the water media. I also will be using DANIEL SMITH watercolors. This is their dot chart, I will be referencing this. It's got all their colors on there, totally unnecessary though, any water color will be fine. I'll be using a number 6 round brush for this whole class, this is by the Pegion Letters. All the links to these supplies are below in the class description. That is it though. I'll be using a warm jar and a cool jar, that way you can put your warm colors in one jar, and then your cool colors runs up in the other jar. The other thing that's optional is just a paper towel. That's it you guys, so let's jump on in. 3. Pumpkin: To do a pumpkin. We're going to paint a pumpkin, and the first thing that we want to do to paint a pumpkin, is we want to create a C curve that then matches with another one right here on the other side, and they both come to a point, not a sharp point but at a point. Then we're going to do another one of this that is cradling that center. A nice full C curve and then just keep a little bit of white space so you can fill some of that in like that, and then do the same thing on the other side like this. Then we're going to do that again, on the outer edges. You don't want a tone of white space, but a little bit is good. They're all basically, the C curves are getting wider and wider, and then they're all meeting at one point. I'm going to now while this is still wet, out of few other tones in here, am just going to grab a head of a darker orange to set that down at the top and the bottom where my wet paint is. Then it's going to bleed, and look really pretty awesome different tones. I can also take a more reddish orange, and set that down, after the initial part starts to bleed a little bit. Creating a little extra depth. You can do that along the edges a little, it just gives it a little more depth overall. Now we're going to add a stem. You can choose to let this dry first and then add a stem, or you can choose to add a stem now, and it may bleed if it touches the base here so you can keep it separate or have it touch, which could create a cool effect, but it's all really just depending on how you want this to look and what your style is. I love it when things bleed, so I am going to let mine. I am just doing a small stem like this, and it's skinnier toward the bottom and just a little thicker toward the top. You've seen pumpkin stems. These things are all over the map. There's not really a right or a wrong way to do this. But you can see how that's creating a really cool bleed effect right here. That's what that will look like if you don't wait for it to dry. I'm just going to add a little more pigment, to darken that up a little bit. There we go. I'm going to draw a little leaf coming off of my pumpkin in a little bit of a lighter tone. It's basically the same motion that we just did, only a lot smaller. It is really a leaf or two. Then I'm going to leave this around here. Some of that will bleed. But overall it's just a loose pumpkin and that is it, super simple. 4. Acorns: Now I'm going to show you some loose acorns. These are so simple, It's basically two colors that sit next to each other and you're just forming the shape. The first shape that will form is the main part of the acorn and then we'll do the top of it. Looks like it's little hat. You're going to grab a color that is a lighter brown and then just a C curve down and then upward, just like this. You're basically forming very soft point and then upward. Then what I like to do after I have this part done is go back with that wet on wet, add some more pigment to an edge like the top and the edge, and then it's going to bleed. But then I have one area that is a little bit lighter,so it looks more like a highlight. I'm going to do another one of those right next to it. Fill that all the way in and then add some more pigment. This side here. This would be a better representations and the first one that bled a little too much for my liking. But you can also, if that happens, go back in with just a little bit of a darker color and add it just to one corner and then it will still do the trick. Then you can wait for it to dry or if you don't mind a little bit of a bleed or some white space you can go in and create its little hat. I'm doing this by extending the top just past, it's width. Then creating like a soft curve at the top. That is going to have a very small point at the top of that. You can see that starting to bleed. I love that affect, if you don't wait for it to dry or keeps some white space in there. Then I will add it's little stem like so. This one's a little wider. I am going to extend the body. I guess you'd call it a body. There we go. That makes more sense and then this one is almost dry. So I'm going to try to salvage that, push it out, there we go. Then you have some watercolor acorns and when they are dry, they look absolutely magnificent. 5. Autumn Branch: Now we're going to create some autumn leaves on a branch. Whenever we draw our paint branches, we want to make sure that the branch and its petals, if you will, grow or they are painted in the growth direction. I'm going to create a branch here and I'm just painting like a wavyish line with some sharp edges so it looks more like an organic branch. Then I am going to create some branches coming off of that but see how they are going in the growth direction, upwards rather than straight out. I'm just going to keep doing that on each side until I feel like it is good. That seems good to me and now I'm going to create some leaves in some autumn colors. When it comes to leaves, if you've taken my other watercolor classes we worked on leaves, there are a bunch of different ways to do this. The easiest way is some C curves with full pressure that go into the tip with lighter pressure. But if we want to do a different type of leaf, let's say we want it to be smaller or shorter or more cylinder or more round, you can determine what kind of leaves that you want to do. I am just going to do some real basic ones that are going to be easy for everyone. But know that the shape is just determined on length or on pressure, etc. I am going to start with a lighter color, similar to how we did with the pumpkin. Just a lighter orangey color or even yellow. Probably do some mixtures in here and then I am going to press and lift toward the tip and then get quite enough paint on there. Then same thing on the other side. Then I am going to do another one, I'm just coming off the same branch. Let me make this a little bit larger. Then once that is set, while it's still wet I'm going to add a deeper pigment for it to bleed and let that do its thing. Then I'll go in with some yellow here and then maybe up here. Then I'll add some more pigment to that so I can add that deeper orange, just a couple of places for it to bleed. Or I can do a lighter orange and mix a couple of colors but, yeah, the bleed is really pretty, if you come back to it and it hasn't done a ton of bleeding, you can always push it, just give it a little nudge and then it will go or it will spread. Then you can do some darker colors and then if you overlap slightly, you'll see how the yellow is just brought in. You can have those bleed a little bit, which is also really pretty, and then you don't have to add any extra tones. I'm just going to do this the whole way through. Adding some color or just overlapping like so, and if you do overlap, make sure that the points are clear because if you do it when it's too wet, it might get a little bit lost. I am working with different hues and tones and shades. I'm working with different opacity so I can have some that are a lot lighter, some that are brighter or darker, because I like that variation in there. I'm going to have one. You're just filling it out as you go, adding them where it feels like it makes the most sense. They don't all have to be connected so you can have some peak of this that are filling this out here. Some that are really light, which give the illusion that there are more in the background. Just full pressure press into the tip. Then once you fill it in, just like I mentioned before, if it feels like there's empty spaces, you can always go in and fill it even if there is not a branch for it to connect to. Peekaboo ones use a little less pigment so there's some transparency, giving the illusion it's more on the background. Don't drag your hand through it like I just did. You really work with the bleed too so if you have one that is still wet, you can also just barely touch it and then it'll drag some of that color with it. Now I'm going to go in and I'm going to add some more depth to some of these and get them nice and bright. Not all of them though. Some of those are in the background for a reason. But I like those deeper fall colors, so I'm going to add more of like a brownish red. You can do it to just one edge and then see how it's starting to bleed inward. That's really pretty too. These are just little tricks on ways that you can really bring these leaves to life by adding some more depths to them. That is it for your fall branch. 6. Autumn Tree: The trunk. I go back and forth with where I want to start with these, but I'm going to do a pretty fall tree, so using the belly of my brush, and I'm going to grab some tones like yellow, orange, and then a darker orange or red. I'm starting with yellow because I like to layer. I'm going to grab my yellow, make sure that my brush is fully saturated. Then I'm going to set this down, continue to add some water so I have some depth in transparency, as well as color. Maybe grab some more color, more pigments on my brush. Have this come down. I'm doing a lot of yellow because it's going to be my base color to really show the tree. As you can see, I'm just setting the belly of my brush, so this side of my brush down and lifting. So I'm not dragging it all. The reason I'm doing this way is because it can create a lot of nice texture, even though this is a loose style. I've got a light yellow in here, and now I'm going to start adding some orange while it's still wet because I like when it bleeds. I'm just going to grab a light orange color and start setting this down and see how it's bleeding through where I placed my yellow. But I'm going to overlap some and then have some stand on its own. See overall, it's just like kind of a circular shape, a little bit wider toward the bottom. This can be any kind of tree. It can have little taller areas on one side or towards the middle. It doesn't have to be a round tree. You can see that I'm grabbing some more water, so I have some different shading in here. Now, I'm going to grab a little bit of a darker orange and just layer again. I'm going to keep layering and layering and get darker and darker as I go, because I really want to showcase those fall colors. When we see these trees, were not seeing them in sections or anything, there's a lot of depth to it. Now I'm grabbing a little bit darker. It's almost like a reddish color now. Just going through and setting my brush down, and then lifting it up. I'm moving pretty quickly because I want to really take advantage of the paint when it's still wet. You can go in and grab some browns or darker red colors and set that through if you want it to be a little less bright and a little more moody, a little more fall, a more sophisticated color. Or you can leave it once you're happy with the tones that come out. I'm just adding some of those dark brownish red color in here, a couple of places. You can choose to do this or not, but this is just a fun little trick. Let's say that there's an area in here that you want to have more highlighted, little less depth. If you take a paper towel and just scrunch it softly, and then you can press down like this. See how it's creating even more depth. You can do that in a couple of places to really showcase more of a highlight. Then if you take too much, you can always add more paint. It'll be beneficial to you also to work on a water color block. You can see that this is a lot of water, so the paper will warp more, and those blocks are great for projects like this. Now, I'm going to add my trunk. So I'm going to grab a brown to do this. I'm going to grab a really, really dark brown. Personal preference, you can use whatever you want, of course. Then I'm going to start with some roots coming from the ground, and they're going to be real small, and then move up or like this. I've loved the way roots look. You don't have to include them if you don't want to. Then I'm going to start using the full pressure with my brush to get a nice broad stroke that goes up into the tree, and then I'm going to have it match. On the other side, fill this in, and then put a little more root action in here. Then these roots will connect. They'll get wider as it gets up further. It's really simple though. Then I like to add some branches coming off before the trunk gets hidden. I will start adding branches coming off and going into the tree. Then because my watercolor is still wet on the tree where I put the leaves, it will bleed a little bit. So if you want to avoid that, then wait until it's dry. You guys know I like bleed, so I'm just going with it. Again, block watercolor paper is your friend when you're doing projects that require a lot of water, because then you can avoid the paper warping. Or you can always take it down, like Washi tape or painter's tape works really well, and then it will be flat. But I like to cut corners so I didn't do that. Then lastly, once this dries, I am going to add a few little branches throughout the leaves. Now, I'm going to add those branches. Something to keep in mind too, if you do do a bleed like this, you're going to want some sharper areas. The reason why is because you're new branches are going to be real nice and crisp. So it will look a little bit silly if you just have a mush pile down here and then some strong branches. I'm just going to find little peekaboo spots that are a little lighter. I'm just going to add a branch or to the peekaboo through there. White space is great for this too. But overall, I don't want to go too crazy, but that's what that's going to look like. Then I'll put one maybe there. So that's that. Then you always have the option after it dries, you're going to see that this is the loose version of this. Now, there's nothing wrong with going back in and adding some more detail, maybe even just a couple more aspects like this to create a little more of that vibrancy and definition. Otherwise it will look a little more like a mush. I like the way that that looks, but it might not be your thing. You can always go back in and add more detail and more detail. But just know that when it's wet on wet, it will bleed like that. But otherwise, there is your fall tree. Pretty simple, right? 7. Abstract Loose Florals: Okay, so we're going to paint some super, super loose florals. These are basically capturing essence and less structure or talking lots of bleed and what not. These flowers are going to be red. Just the purest red that you have, and we're just going to create a little c-curve. Like so. Cop somewhere pigment really get that in there. The rest of this is going to be just adding water, and we're just going to drag this up, and then kind of create water that is touching and just getting larger. Now as this happens, you'll notice that it's really grabbing that color and running with it. So we're going to add more pigment to the base here and that's going to bleed upwards to where we just had it, and then you can add in another color another pigment to bring the depth thin, but that's it. So don't overthink that part. We're going to do that again, and then we're just going to drag some water, only water create kind of this open shape like that, and then the pigment. We just going to give it a little friendly push, add some other colors in there if you want to make, I might grab some yellow, and it's just like a nice orange, but I want the bottoms of these to be pigment it and then them to kind of float upward. So I'm going to do that again here, and then pull some of this pigment upward with water, creating like a loose bowl, and then adding more pigment at the bottom. Got some orange on here now, go a head grab some yellow, and then if it looks too pigments in. If it's having too much of a bleed. Let me do that quick trick on how you can lift some of that color. We're just going to do that, but I'm going to do that at the top and then just push it a little bit further with some water and it's going to continue to bleed since that still wet. That looks good to me. Okay. Now I'm going to kind of put some in the background a little bit that is a little bit lighter. So we've got this yellow color now. I'm going to bring that upward here. Notice that the red just flooded into it and I'm fine with that because I'm going really loose with this, but then I'm going to add a lot of this pigment toward the bottom. I'm going to do that again in another spot, but then what I wanted to do before these dry is get a bleeding stem in here. So I'm just creating that bowl. This one's not really bleeding because it's pigment, this is drying. See how I have some pigment lost here. I'm going to add some more back in, before that gets too dry. Okay. Now that these are drying, I want to make sure that my stems are in here and I'm just going to grab a real dark green and grab brown or black. I'm going to bring a real skinny stem up, have it connect. I want this to create kind of a base for the stem. It will kind of bleed into that. Ideally, this will be done when your flowers still have plenty of moisture so that it bleeds. We're going to keep this one a little bit separates. I don't want it to bleed into this just into the base of each flower. So this one's kind of poking behind, there we go. Keep a little white space and one more for that bleed. So you can see that that's bleeding naturally on its own, I got a little too much water on this one. So if I just take an edge of the paper towel and just set it there, it's going to soak up some of that water, but still let it do what it wants to do. That'll come in handy. Now, I want to add a few more that are a lot more transparent. I'm going to grab a red color and just make a little bit of a smaller flower, bring that ball up. Just keep it, it's getting kind of lost. That's what I want. So it's going to bleed and then I'm going to do that again, just right here. Really makes sure that there's not as much pigment on these ones as the previous. It's okay if you have some bleed from other flowers, you remember that we like that right now. Okay. Then I'll add stems to those guys. I made those ones just a little bit later. Maybe do one more just up here at the top. Kind of coming from behind. Okay, two more, that looks good. Now what I want to do is add a little bit of texture since this is really loose, I'm focusing on the imperfections and how fun that can be. To do that, I am going to add some splatter, and this is where I would recommend putting something underneath what you're working on so that you don't get it all over the place, because that will happen. I've already gotten things all over the place, so I'm not worried about it, but what we want to do is completely saturate your brush and water. Pick up a lot of pigment, maybe going water one more time. Hold your brush over your paper and you're just going to tap, like that, pour some texture. Then you can go in and do that with another color. So I have orange now. Then maybe for fun, since we have that stem color in there. I can do it with the dark color too, like that. Then you have a really cool autumn, loose floral, abstract d-looking piece. 8. Project Time!: All right, you guys, that is the class. I hope that you enjoyed it. I would love to see what you do with this stuff. I know that there are so many plethoras of projects you can create with these fine illustrations, whether it be if you're a calligrapher or you have some images that you want to put together if you're a mixed media person. Even if you just want to go with a watercolor painting, that's perfect too, no matter what you want to do, this is going to turn out differently for each person which is why it's so exciting about art. So please upload your photos, your finished projects, or your just your process photos in the project gallery. I would love to see them. If you want some additional inspiration, please check out my other classes and follow me on Instagram at the pigeon letters. I will see you next time. I am yelling. Do you want attention? You never coming for attention when I'm not doing this, how come you want attention now? It's fine. You are so curious. This is where I call you in here and you never come, shut up.