Kristine Rapohina is a hugely talented watercolour artist who specializes in botanical realism. She brings florals to life in the most delightful way.
Watch her FREE Demo and follow these steps to study one of her masterpieces. You'll see how professional watercolourists achieve such astonishing precision and realism.
I am using an Etchr hot press sketchbook and their Watercolour 24 Half Pan Set. You should use whatever you have available at home.
Step 1: The Sketch
Every good painting begins with a good sketch. Make sure that your proportions are correct and your graphite is soft enough to not damage your paper. Just as a house needs a solid concrete slab, you build a secure foundation for your painting with your sketch.
If your lines are dark enough to show through the paint, consider lightly erasing so the drawing won't distract from the watercolour and take away some realism.
Step 2: The First Layer
We are working wet-on-wet for this step in the process, so add plain water to the nearest section of the petal until it is glossy but not puddled. Then, add a bit of purple pigment, but not too much.
Spread it gently around the darkest areas. Leave the light areas white for now because we'll revisit them later. This technique of painting is gradual and incremental.
Step 3: First Layer, Continued
Once the first petal has dried safely, wet the second petal and repeat the same process. For the sharper shadow dividing the two petals, keep that area dryer so that you can get the precision.
Wet paper lets the colour flow into easier gradients, whereas dry paper allows for precision.
Step 4: Adding Green
Purple and green together are lovely. I used my brightest green here, calmed it a little with a hint of brown, then used the same wet-on-wet technique from the petals to create the first layer of the bud.
Once again, leave the lightest areas white. If you want to preserve the white on the sharp edge of the nearest leaf, leave that place dry.
Step 5: The Second Layer
Once all the paint from earlier is completely dry, begin the second layer. The paint-to-water ratio isn't any different here. The way Kristine builds incredible depth is by layering patiently and with restraint.
Make small, precise brushstrokes with a narrow brush to make the shadow follow the plant's grain. That way, you are shading and adding veins to the leaves at the same time!
Do the same thing to the petals. In the case of this plant, the petals and leaves have a similar texture.
Here's how it should look after some gentle layering. Don't linger too long in one area. Let the paint be all the way dry before you add more pigment.
If you go in with the next layer before the one underneath is dry enough, you will lift paint instead of adding it, which is unsightly and difficult to fix. If you find yourself in a situation where you have to lift paint, you can check out our blog on lifting techniques.
Step 6: Going Darker
Now it is okay to have less water in the paint. The more practice you have, the more your intuition will guide you about paint dilution. You will have a natural sense of what is right. Notice how the leaf is becoming more lifelike because all the brushstrokes are with the grain of the veins.
You should go quite dark on the edges of the petals because there's a lot of pigment in that part of the plant. You might only be using the bare minimum amount of water needed to make the paint usable in places like this.
Step 7: Finishing Touches
Layer by layer, you will get the values and the contrast on the plant just right. To add some colour nuance to the petals, you can add a touch of green to the lower and pink to the upper portions. It will go a long way to add lovely depth.
This might be a tricky painting to do the first time correctly, and that's to be expected! You learn by pushing yourself a little beyond what you're comfortable with already.
If you're having trouble with edge control, release the tension in your shoulders and experiment with different ways of holding the brush. You will find something that works for you. When you're ready for more practice, you can paint the flowers in your yard.
Kristine has more valuable information in her Mini Workshop! If you want to stay up to date with all things Etchr Studio, make sure to subscribe to our email newsletter! We'll make sure that you're the first to know about our latest classes and deals!