'Tis the season to paint holly

'Tis the season to paint holly

Oh my goodness, it feels like it will never stop raining here in Devon, the skies are dark , the wind and rain are lashing down on my little studio. The countdown to Christmas is getting smaller and the big day looms large on the horizon.

I am sure lots of you have so much to do, plans for family and friends, shopping to do, or presents to wrap. I have spent more than my fair share of time at my local post office sending off orders that may be destined for people's stockings, and for those orders I am eternally grateful. However I can't deny I will be happy for a rest over the festive period. 

The best way I know to unwind is to paint, even though I paint almost every day it still has a power to relax me, take me away from the moment and transport me into new worlds.


Today I thought I would share a little painting of holly , fun to do, perhaps to give as a gift or a homemade card .

Firstly find out some photos of holly, or better still pick some from the hedgerow or garden.



and draw your holly, only include the leaves you like, and where they are, remember you are in charge, paint what looks good, and do as much or as little as you like.



For this painting I will also need my spray bottle, this holly is going to be a loose interpretation.



Now look at the holly and see what colours you can see in the leaves. I start with lemon yellow, and make sure you leave some white of the paper for the highlights.


Next I add some cerulean blue.



And gradually build up the colours in the leaves. I add a touch or red to green to knock it back a bit, and make it look more natural. I think you all recognise paintings where the green looks unnatural, a touch of red really helps, but only a touch. Too much and you'll end up with a sludgy brown on your hands



You see how I am working from light to dark, classic watercolour technique, also adding wet in wet so it blends, but not too wet.



Then I sprayed it slightly with my spray bottle so the watercolour bleeds over the paper. ( you don't have to do this) but I like the way watercolour reacts and I just love those properties.

Have a go , let yourself go and go with the results. While that dries you can start working in the same way on the other leaves,



Then as they dry you can reinstate some colour and add to the darks by adding blues to your greens.



Now for the pop of colour that is the berries. I start with lemon yellow again, and make sure you leave the little highlight of white ( the paper) 

Then add an orangy red,




Then a darker red


build around the berries, adding some shadows too, the more depth of colour you add the more of a 3D effect you will achieve.



I added a bit more detail, and a final mist over the berries, I like the looseness of it all. But if you didn't spray it it would still work perfectly 

Have a go , it's a real break from the hustle and bustle these last few days before Christmas

Plus I would like to say a massive THANKYOU for your amazing support again this yea  you have no idea how much I appreciate it x


Happy Christmas x





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  • Tanya

    Thank you, Rachel! If I manage to create such watercolor—it’ll be reply to your according tweet:)

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