How to paint a realistic Poinsettia for your Christmas card in watercolour

Poinsettias have become a symbol of Christmas
cheer. And with their rich vibrant colours they make the perfect subject for a Christmas
card. A key feature of the bright red leaves is
their intricate veins. When painted they help to give the leaves form and shape. And they
are a lot of fun to do, but as you’ll see, if we’re to get the leaves as rich and dark
as they should be, we need to hold off from painting them until right at the end. Firstly I work from a photo I’ve taken and
create a detailed outline drawing including all the main veins. I then lay down a first
wash which is watery and light, so as to match to the very lightest tones in the leaves,
often at the edges of each leaf. I work on each leaf individually and change
my mix to reflect the subtly different colours in each leaf. When that wash has dried, I paint the darkest
tones in the leaves overall – some of the veins and in the centre of the flower, as
well as in the lower green leaf. With those darkest tones in place it is easier to judge
how dark to take the midtones. With that layer now dry, I work on the darker
midtones and use my bright red mix at a much thicker consistency and with some brown and
crimson added in to make it really dark. I concentrate on the darkest leaves and the
darker areas within some of the lighter leaves. Next I can work with a lighter, brighter mix
to work on the lighter midtones and start to bridge the gap between those darker midtones
and the lightest tones in the leaves. I use my larger brush and apply in a smooth,
wash technique so as to achieve a smooth velvety sort of finish to the leaves. I also darken up the smaller, more pink leaves
towards the centre. Once I’ve darkened up the green leaves and
centre some more, I am in a position to start tonal juggling – a process by which I can
step back and assess the painting as a whole – darkening up areas that need it. And once
I darken some of the darkest areas, I find I need to darken some of the lighter areas
too. Only once i’m satisfied that the leaves are
looking dark enough as a whole, and that the leaves are again dry, do I use a smaller brush
to start to paint in the veins using a darker colour mix. If I’d added them in earlier when the leaves
were lighter, I would have found that they would have stood out too much against the
leaves, and I would have found myself needing to darken the leaves around the veins which
would have been really tricky and would probably have led to the veins to bleed and lose definition.
So that’s my method for painting a realistic
Poinsettia perfect for a Christmas card. If you’d like to see a full tutorial showing
you what colours to use and providing you with a line drawing to trace, it’s now available
via my online School. If you’ve enjoyed this tip video, please visit where can sign up for a free step-by-step tutorial, check out the equipment
I recommend, view more tip videos, get inspired by my portfolio and lots more. Thanks for


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