Palm and Oak Leaves

Today’s watercolor experiment:

I mentioned in other posts, how I love to take photographs of objects that catch my eye. Usually it is a particular juxtaposition of shapes or, in the case of today’s reference photo, a striking color.

Reference photo:

Digital Photo: Palm and Oak Leaves

Palm and Oak Leaves
Digital Photo



In addition to the luminous combination of greens, this photograph has delicate converging lines. Ordinarily, I would have gotten my drafting board, taped the paper down and meticulously copied the lines. I have done this in the past, with less than stellar results. Today, I approximated the nearly parallel lines of the fronds freehand.


As I usually do, I laid down lemon yellow in the body of the palm frond. I used shadow green for the darkened areas. To coax a green color from the yellow, I tried overlaying a couple of different blues: Prussian blue and Peacock blue. Neither of these was terribly successful.

I painted the background (negative space) with Moonglow, a Daniel Smith, multi-pigmented color, to contrast with the yellow/yellow green palm leaf.

I painted the brighter areas of the leaf with thalo yellow green after detailing the leaves with fine parallel Hooker’s-green lines.


I sketched the oak leaf at the same time as the palm leaf. I painted inside the outline with a combination of Van Dyke brown, yellow ochre and neutral tint, after painting a bit of yellow to show the slight reflection on the otherwise-solid looking silhouette. I painted over the opaque leaf with thalo yellow green to emphasize the under-painted yellow.

Watercolor: Palm and Oak Leaves

Palm and Oak Leaves
12″x9″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block


There is quite a difference between the painting and the photograph. I wish I was able to reproduce the glowing green that so attracted me to the scene in the first place.

Perhaps some more glazing is warranted. However, before I try that, I wanted to share this stage of the study.  I will surely re-post this if I am successful in achieving luminosity.

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