How to Paint: Watercolor Houseplants | Monstera | Audrey Moon | Skillshare

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How to Paint: Watercolor Houseplants | Monstera

teacher avatar Audrey Moon, Watercolorist and Modern Calligrapher

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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.

      NEW 3 Monstera Sketching


    • 4.

      Color Mixing


    • 5.

      How to Tape Your Painting


    • 6.

      Sketching the Final Painting


    • 7.

      Painting the First Layers


    • 8.

      Painting the Second Layer


    • 9.

      Painting the Third Layer


    • 10.

      Painting the Final Layer


    • 11.

      Painting the Background


    • 12.

      10 Conclusion


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About This Class

This is the fourth and final of the houseplants series: the Monstera! Check out the other plants in this series:

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

The Monstera is probably one of the most recognizable tropical plant. Its large leaves that sometimes look like swiss cheese because of the holes make it such an interesting subject to paint. Using your observation, sketching, color mixing, and basic watercolor skills, you're going to create a unique work of art!

Please note that a few parts of this class that will be in timelapse ("Sketching the Final Painting" and "Painting the Background").

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!

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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 Things Unseen Designs. I'm a watercolorist, calligrapher, and educator. This is the fourth and final plan to be featured in my How To Paint House Plants series right here on Skillshare. In this class, we're going to paint the Monstera plant together. Also known as the Swiss Cheese plant, it's one of the most recognizable tropical plants. Although I've personally never grown it in my home because it's toxic to pets unfortunately, I still love the large leaves, that it's easy to care for, and how it can fit in any style of home. In each video, I'll take you through my steps of gathering supplies, sketching, testing out colors, and finally, painting the whole thing together step-by-step. I'll also show you how to achieve really rich, vibrant, and varied colors through layering, also called glazing. All of the videos are going to be in real time, except for a few parts in a couple of the videos. But don't worry, you won't miss out on anything really important. All of the instructional parts are going to be in real time. Well, I hope you're excited to get started. Let's break out our pace and dive right in. 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 we'll be using. First, you're going to grab some watercolor paper. The brand that I'm using is the Canson brand and it's a 140 pounds. Next you're going to need some watercolor paints. My palette is a mix of Winsor and Newton and Grumbacher colors. For more information, you can download my list of supplies to see which colors I've got in my palette. Next, you're going to need some watercolor brushes. I'm going to be using a variety of size 6, size 4, and probably a size 2. Next, you're also going to need a pencil and eraser because we will be doing some sketching. You'll also need a cup of clean water, a spray bottle to keep your paints wet, and some paper towel to blot out your brush. So go ahead and grab your supplies and let's get started. 3. NEW 3 Monstera Sketching: Hey there. In this video, we're going to sketch out a couple of different leaves just so that we can understand how the leaf behaves and looks. We'll do at least one sketch, where the leaf is full frontal like this. Then we'll do a couple where the leaf is folded up like this one and then this one down here. Then we'll do another one where there are bending, and then coming down this way. The cool thing about the monster leaf is that it doesn't have to be completely symmetrical, and each leaf is really unique. Some of the leaves you'll notice have holes in them. That's just a sign of maturity and growth in the plant, because as the leaves get older, they get larger and larger. The holes helped prevent the leaves from ripping or breaking if there's too much wind or too much rain water. That's cool. You can have your leaves with these holes or not. It's really up to you, but just to let you know that it's not a fault of the plant, it's just how it grows. That's cool. Let's go ahead and grab our watercolor paper or pencil and eraser, and practice sketching a couple of these leaves. Here we go. Let's first sketch the full frontal leaf. Sketch out a generic shape, and it's going to look like a rounded out diamond, round like that. This might be a little bit too round. You can make it a little bit longer rather than rounder, or a little bit longer than too round. That's a pretty good general shape. We're going to start by sketching the top and the bottom. At the top, follow this point, and then come towards the middle, but don't go all the way to the middle. Then at the bottom, the leaves are actually going to fold out this way. Go ahead and create just a leaf that flares out like this. I know it's going outside of your sketch, but that's okay. Again, this is just to help guide us. It's not a restrictive sketch. Then now, we're just going to fill in the rest of this space with leaves. We'll start on the right side just because I'm right-handed. From this middle point, just follow that curve back out to the edge of your sketch, and then curve down, and then you can follow that curve again back to the middle. You don't have to make these points or these corners as sharp, you can make them rounded as well. Just free handed, you can have another leaf going behind that one, and then poking out that way. That's looking pretty good. Lets go ahead and do the other side. Again, you don't have to be so restricted to your outline sketch. Remember, the monster leave doesn't have to be symmetrical. This is looking pretty good. Now from here, this is, I think in my eyes, a pretty large leaf. You can add a couple of those holes if you wanted to, to show the maturity and the leaf. You can free hand that as well. They don't have to be perfect holes that can be more like squiggly holes. That's looking pretty good. Let's do another sketch, where we've got one side of the leaf pointing upward. For this one, we're just going to create the main stem first. Just have a curve going up this way, and then we'll draw the folded leaf first, and for that just have it coming up this way, and then coming down that way. Then from here, let's have the other leaves poking out. We're going to follow that mean. If you wanted to sketch out your guideline, it'll be looking like that. Now, even though this is folded and this is one side of the leaf, we're missing the top part of the leaf that's facing us. You can just have that coming out this way. Now, this is our guideline here. Then erase the parts where the leaves don't connect. You can erase the other guidelines as well, just so you have a better idea. Let's do another one where the leaf is also folded up, but this time, both sides are folded up. First, draw your main stem, you can make it more 3D if you want. We'll draw the first half of the leaf, and then we'll draw the part that would be in the back. That's what the top leaf would look like. Then come down. Again, if you wanted to draw the guideline, it's like that rounded diamond shape, except down here at the bottom of the leaf. Remember, it goes up instead of down. Just have that going. Then you can draw another hole if you want, a couple of holes there. I feel like this should have another leaf, so I'm just going to draw a small one there, and another small one. Now, draw the leaves that are going to be behind it, but also folded up. It'll be similar to this, but it'll be a little bit shorter in perspective. There's that first one. Then pretend that it's going behind. I'll just draw a dotted line to show you like where it would go. Then if I were to continue my dotted line, and then come out this way, come back here, dotted line. There you go. That just gives you an idea of where the leaf falls behind, but now I'm going to erase them, so that they're not as distracting. I'm just going to define the vane or the main stem a little bit more. If this one was tricky, that's okay. Just practice drawing another one, and use those dotted lines to help you. Let's do one more. It'll look similar to this one. But let's have it bending. Let's draw the main stem, but then have it bending a little bit like that. Let's start at the top and the bottom again. Have the curve going in like that. Now, when it's bending, both sides are not going to be exactly equally apart. If this is one side, then the other side, has to be a little bit shorter or narrower. It'll be more like that. Let's do the bottom part. Again, remember that it curves outward like that. Again, this side is going to be a little bit shorter. Just personally, I like to work from top to bottom, so that's what I'm going to do. If you need the guidelines again, just sketch that in lightly to just help you. Again, you can draw as some of the holes, if you want this to look more like those mature plants. Great work sketching out the monstera. Next, we'll do some color testing, and practice painting the leaves. See you in the next video. 4. Color Mixing: Welcome back everyone. So in this video we're going to do some color testing because, I always like to get an idea of what my colors look like and make sure that they look good together before I paint the final product. When I did my test painting for this class, I did mostly cool greens, and that's just my personal preference. But in this video, I might actually try some different color combinations, but I wanted to show you what I created first. This is probably one of my favorite color combinations, but Hooker's green dark, and then I just mix some blue into that, I think I used ultramarine blue. Then this is sap green just on its own, it's a good, warm green color. This is a black plus phthalo green. The phthalo green is a really bright green, and I can show you what that color looks like. I used black, you could also use Payne's gray to kind of tone the brightness down, and then make it a little bit cooler green. But in this video, just to give you a variety of greens to work with, we'll do a couple of different colors together. We'll also try mixing some greens and browns and yellow ocher together just because that's another great way to get warm greens. So in my palette, I have three different greens. This is my sap green, the phthalo green, and the Hooker's green dark. I tend to use these a lot. I also have Payne's gray all the way over here. Then in my warm colors sections, I have burnt sienna, raw umber, yellow ocher, and then this is bright yellow, and then I forgot what color this is, but it's like a peachy kind of color. So we'll just do a couple different combinations and see what we like. I encourage you to do the same before you start any painting so that you have an understanding. If you already have a color chart of all of your color mixes and combinations, then that's great. You can use that as reference. But I also like to do a fresh one just every time, just so I can remind myself what these color combinations look like. Here we go. We'll start with the sap green. Again, like I said, it's a pretty warm green, so I'm just going to just paint straight from the palette here. Then we'll use this sap green and do a couple of different mixes. I'm just going to create a large area so I can do various mixes with it. So sap green is a really great green to start with. It looks great just right out of the palette. I also like to just wash my brush out, blot it, and then draw the color out, just so I can also get a sense of what it looks like when it's a little bit diluted, and I love to do that again. I just keep going until I get the lightest color possible. I could probably go one more, but then it might be too transparent. There we go. That just gives you an idea of just the range of this color. So that's sap green. I'm going to go ahead and label that, so that I don't forget. Next, I'll show you what the Hooker's green dark looks like out of the palette. This is another color that I just really like just right out of the palette too, it's kind of a brighter green but it's darker. For me, it's almost like a forest green but not as dark, if that makes any sense. That looks pretty good. Again, I'm going to just wash my brush out a little bit, blot it. That seems to be about as far as I can go with that. This is again Hooker's green dark, and I just abbreviate that because I'm lazy. Now let's do some color combinations. So I'm going to take some of this sap green here and I'm going to mix some Payne's gray into it, which is probably one of my favorite color combinations. You don't need a lot of Payne's gray, it's very pigmented and very dark. So just kind of dip your paint brush in there and then bring it over and see how dark it gets. I might just grab just a little bit more, maybe just another hair more. Yeah, this is one of my favorite color combinations, and this is a great way to get a dark color without using black. Black will just kind of muddy up your colors. So it's great to mix colors together instead of mixing black into it. Just going to wash out my brush again, dry it out. That looks pretty good, and I'm going to label that sap green plus Payne's gray. Let's do one more color combination. Actually, I want to show you what the phthalo green looks like. So my phthalo green is right here in the middle, and you can see it's still a giant cake because I don't use that as much because really just a little bit goes a really long way. Just look how bright that is. That's just me just dipping it in there. We'll take that and then we'll turn it down with some warm, earthy colors but here it is straight from the palette. That's a really bright green for me but some people like it. I can't fault them for liking it. That is the phthalo green. Let's go ahead and mix that phthalo green with some warmer colors and then you'll see how it really tones down. Over here in my palette, I have the phthalo green right there and I'm going to mix some of the burnt raw sienna in there and then just see how warm it gets. It looks like a mossy green or mossy dark green. Let's see how that looks on the paper. It's almost like the same color as the hookers green dark almost. I like it actually. Go ahead and label that one as well it's phthalo green plus burnt sienna. Probably not a good idea. Here are all of our colors and these are just tests. It doesn't mean that I'm going to use necessarily all of these colors in my plant but it just gives you an idea of the colors that we can work with and you can even play with the ratios. Here with my phthalo green, I could have added more burnt sienna to make it even a warmer color or maybe here with the payne's gray I could've actually toned it down a little and still get a good balance between the warm sap green and the cool payne's gray. These are straight from the palette as well as phthalo green and it's just a good way just to see what your base color could be. We're going to do something that I haven't done in my other classes, which is going to be layering. Now that these colors are dry. Sometimes when you usually paint a watercolor, you're going to be painting in layers. When we paint our final painting, we are going to be doing some layering. It'll be a good idea to see what these colors look like when you paint over them. For example, let's take my regular sap green that was over here. I'm going to grab a little bit more just so I added just a touch of water and then load your brush with it and what we're going to do, I'm just going to take my brush and then go straight down just like that. That'll give you an idea of what the sap green looks like when it's painted over this layer. I'm going to dilute my sap green even more and do the same, so you can get an idea of what the color would look like if you were to paint on top of it. Let's say I wanted to take that sap green plus payne's gray and do a layer over that and then paint over that. I'm going to do the same with the hookers green dark. This exercise teaches you how transparency works. When you layer a color on top of each other, sometimes you can see the color underneath it, and sometimes that's a good thing. For example, when you look here with the sap green plus payne's gray over the sap green here, you can still see the sap green layer underneath it which is a good thing and same thing over here when I layered it with the hookers green dark. You can still see the sap green color underneath it. That's actually what you want in watercolors. That's why you put layer on top of layers so that the layers underneath can show through. Something similar over here and even here you can still see that bright green of the hookers green dark underneath this layer of sap green and diluted. It gives you an idea of how vibrant the colors can be. For example, down here, you can see that when I painted over a color, this color became much more pronounced. Whereas over here, I'm not painting over a color it just looks a little bit more muted. This is a good study on color and how they work and how layering works. I hope this was fun and educational. You can leave that as is. Let's go ahead and start painting the monster together. Here we go. 5. How to Tape Your Painting: All right. Hey everyone. I hope you're excited to start painting the monster together. I'm going to do something a little bit different than I have in my other house plan videos, and for this one I'm going to paint on a six inch by six inch watercolor paper. What I'm going to do first is actually tape it down, and I'm going to tape it down and cover about half an inch of the top, the sides, and the bottom. The reason I'm going to do that is just because this is just what I want my final painting to look like. I want to do a painting where, you'll see what it looks like, but I'm going to sketch it so that we're almost like in a jungle of monster leaves. If you want to do the same, go ahead and cut out a piece of watercolor paper that's about six inch by six inch or you can go larger or smaller. It's really up to you. Then go ahead and tape it down. I just like to tape it down, number one, because it'll prevent the paper from warping or bending, and then I also like to tape it down because I like to have that border. Make sure you get a nice seal on it so that you get a clean border. 6. Sketching the Final Painting: Once you've got your paper taped down, now we're going to start sketching and like I said, I'm going to sketch it so that it looks like we're in a jungle or in a crowd of monster leaves. I'm going to draw some really large leaves and then some smaller leaves in the background. Feel free to do something similar or experiment with your own. But just remember the sketches that we made earlier try to have a variety of leaves. Here we go. I'm done with my sketch and one of the things that I like to do before I start painting is I want to get rid of most of the pencil lines. For that I'm going to use a kneaded eraser. What the kneaded eraser does is basically pick up the graphite without really altering the quality of the paper. That's really important because the more you mess with the watercolor paper, like putting your hand on it or rubbing it with a regular eraser, you're going to change the quality or the absorbency of the watercolor paper. Try to pick up as much of the graphite you can without it completely fading. If you're the type that is okay with pencil lines showing, then that's totally okay. I just prefer not to have too much pencil lines showing that's why I like to get rid of it. 7. Painting the First Layers: That's looking pretty good. So now I'm ready for my first layer. For my first layer, I'm just going to lay down some sap green on some of the leaves. Now I have one big leaf right here, and so I'm going to start with that one. I'm using a size six brush and I'm just going to paint over it with a light wash of Hooker's green dark. Remember that if you drew some holes, make sure to go around it. Now as you're painting the leaf, you can leave the main stem or leave some white space for the main stem, or you don't have to, you can always go over it with a darker color later, but now it would be the time to leave that space if you wanted to. Try to get as even of a wash as you can, and that'll help with the layering later on. So I have my first layer of my biggest leaf done. I'm just going to go over and I'm going to do the same for some of the other leaves that I want. The same base layer color to be added too, so I do the same over here, and I'm going to do the same for one more. These are the ones that are going to be the more top layer leaves. That's why I'm putting this base layer on. The leaves that are going to be lower level are going to be a lot darker. Now I'm going to paint some of the leaves that are on the lower levels with a slightly darker color. You know what? At this point, instead of a size six, I'm actually going to use a size four brush. We've got the first layers of the leaves done. I'm really liking how it looks so far. I'm just going to leave that as it is, and then wait for it to dry, and then start putting on the second layer. See you in the next video. 8. Painting the Second Layer: For my second layer, I'm going to go over the lighter layers with a cooler green. I've mixed some of my greens with the ultramarine blue. I'm just going to really give details towards the center and then towards the edges, and then leave the inside of the leaf a little bit paler. Here we go. What I'm doing right now is partly wet on wet and partly glazing and so I'm actually using two different sized brushes. The four I've got the color on it and then I'm using the six to draw out the color. First I'm just laying down the dark color and then I'm using my size six brush with just a little bit of water to draw out that color. Then use what little is left of it to glaze over the leaf and just blended in. That way I get the detail that I want, the darkness right at the vein or at the stem. But I also get a little bit darker colored leaves without going too dark. Now I'm going to do the same for the outer edges of the leaves too. Then if you want you can go back in there and then add some more of that dark color. Then this is where the wet on wet technique applies. Once I'm going to just add a little bit of detail just around the holes, just so that the holes are little bit more pronounced, a little bit more obvious. Just gives a little bit of a shadow around them. Try that. This large leaf is really looking good. I like how pronounced the leaves are, I love the colors blending and then the outlines that are happening. Again this is only the second layer, so you can still darken up some areas if you want to, but let that go ahead and dry. Then let's do the other side. I'm actually just going to add a little bit more details, just darker details up here. This is a really great practice because you can clearly see this is the first layer that we put down and it looks okay, but then the beauty of watercolor is that once you add that second layer with each layer, the plant or the painting is going to transform. In this layer you can see a lot more shadows, a lot more depth. It almost looks like the leaves are bending or waving. Yeah, so just experiment with the different colors, different layers. Now, I'm going to do the same on the other side. I really like how the second layer is looking. Now, I'm going to do the same to the other really lighter layers that I had up here and over here. There is my second layer. In the next one, I'm going to darken enough these leaves on the second level, and just darken them up with a little bit more sap green, and maybe just a hint of like dark sienna or raw sienna, just to make it a little bit darker. Here we go. 9. Painting the Third Layer: Hi. In this video I'm going to layer just another darker color for the leaves that are in this second level. I've make some little bit of yellow, green hookers, green, dark and burnt sienna. Remember just every time you add layers you want to use less water. This one, I'm not going to do the same technique that I did for this top layer, I'm just going to shade in just parts of the leaf. If you see here in this leaf, I didn't intend to but I did make these parts of the leaves a little bit lighter, and then this part and just down here is a little bit darker. I'm going to darken up the dark parts and that's really all I'm going to do, because I like this contrast but I want to make it a little bit more obvious. I'm just going to layer on top of that and I like to use really thin layer, so I put the paint down but now I'm just going to draw it out and then just paint right over it. I'm blending a little bit as I go, but I'm trying to just staying within those dark areas as much as I can, because I really liked the way that it already has that contrast, but I like to have a higher level of contrast. Now that was the third layer, or the second layer for these leaves. In my next video, I'm going to just darken up these leaves here now and then give some more definition to the leaves, maybe draw some veins, and just draw some more details. See you in the next video. 10. Painting the Final Layer: In this video I'm going to shade in these leaves and just make them a little bit darker because the contrast from this dark center to this light is a little bit too much for me. I'm just going to dark enough these corners a little bit more to meet in the middle. Then I'm going to draw some maybe some veins just to give it some more definition. I might still darken up the leaves just a little bit more. Just because I think, at first I really like that lightness, but the more I started putting down layers, I actually like the darkness ahead of it more. That sounds bad. I mean in the darkness. But you know what I mean. I think just that having that contrast just really makes the plant really pop. Yeah, I'm going to leave this big leave just as it is now. Let that dry, and then I'll come back to it. For now I'm just going to move on to the other leaves to darken these guys up. I think I'm at a pretty good stopping point, I might still add just because I can't let it go. Sometimes I just I just feel like I just need to add another layer. It's going to add just a couple more final details, darken up some other final areas, but then sometimes you just got to know when to stop. I will stop eventually, but let me just add a couple more details. Now, I think I'm done. If you can believe it. I'm going to let this completely dry. I'm actually thinking, maybe I'll paint a very faint pink background. We'll see how that looks. I'll see you in the next video. 11. Painting the Background: Here is my finished painting. But as I was painting this, I thought, hey, what would it look like if I painted a very faint, pink background? What I mean by faint, I mean very faint. I'm going to use my permanent rose, going to really water it down. I'm just going to go at it just at the edges first and see how I like it and then maybe work it in towards the middle. I'm just going to add it on the edges first and let that blend in. You add just a little bit of color and the pink is a complimentary, well, the red is a complimentary of green, but pink is a tint of red. It does the same thing, but it just really enhances that green. I'm not trying to be too exact, because it is going to be hard trying to paint the pink around the greens. I'm just laying down the paint wherever I need it and then letting that just blend in. As I'm going around, I do like this pink. So I might draw it out a little bit more. I might add some more concentrated color around some of the leaves. But I'm going to finish going over the edges first and then work my way into the middle. All right. There you have it. I love that I added the pink, it really makes the green colors stand out. It's just a very eye-popping or eye-catching painting. So I hope you had fun painting the Monstera with me. I can't wait to see your creations, so make sure to create a project. I'll see you on the last video as we conclude this class. Thanks. 12. 10 Conclusion: Hi there. Congrats on making it to the end of the class and learning how to paint the Monstera plant with me. I hope that was helpful as we sketched, tested out colors, and learned how to layer colors to create a vibrant rich painting of the Monstera. 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 hashtag, watercolorwithTUD. I love to show off my students work in my Instagram stories. To conclude this class, I always give a couple of words of advice. The first is, take it just one layer at a time. Watercolor is all about layers. In the final layer painting video towards the end, even though I thought I was done, I just wanted to touch it up just a little bit more, and sometimes knowing when to stop can be tricky or frustrating. My advice is just to take it one layer at a time and make those layers really thin. Just breathe, let it dry, even walk away for a little bit if you want to, and then come back to it, and then look at it. Does it really need that extra layer? If it does, go ahead, and if it doesn't, then you know when to stop. Soon with practice, it will become instinct, and then you'll just know when the final layer is. My second word of advice is to practice brush control. Some of you may have had difficulty trying to avoid painting the stem or the tiny veins, and this will just take practice as you can learn to control your brush. Remember to have a light touch and let your arm and your wrist do the work, especially if you're trying to cover a wide area. If you're using a round brush like most of my brushes are, remember to use just the tip to create that really thin line. At the very least, you can always use a smaller brush to create this thin lines too. My final tip is always the same, which is to practice. The Monstera plant is a perfect subject to practice with, because your sketch doesn't have to be the exact same every single time. When you really look at the Monstera plant, the leaf always look different. Some are thin, some are narrow, long, short, and wide. No matter how you sketch it, you can just focus on the painting techniques. Soon it'll become second nature as you patiently apply layer after layer. Well, before I say a final goodbye, I just want to thank you for taking my class. I'm eager to see all of your awesome projects. Until next time. Bye.