How to Watercolor A Simple Succulent

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This succulent, with its squarely shaped leaves is a really easy beginner watercolor project. You’re sure to have beautiful results if you follow these steps for how to paint it.

First you need to prepare your “canvas”. I am using watercolor paper that came shaped as a tag with a gorgeous gold accent around the punched hole. However, I am sad to say I can’t find this product anymore. If you can create your own tag out of watercolor paper easily enough, but boy, I sure miss that gold accent! If the tag shape isn’t important to you, just make sure you are using watercolor paper. It’s impossible to get really good results without it, and you may get frustrated trying to.

To begin, you’ll want to gather a few things together.

  1. Watercolor paper, as discussed

  2. A waterbrush

  3. Two or more green colors of watercolor paint. Tube watercolor is preferred.

  4. The watercolor resist (I used a resist pen, you could use white acrylic paint in a pinch)

  5. A pencil

Start by drawing your succulent very lightly with the pencil. Then add your resist, finally paint the image. See the detailed instructions with my illustrated examples below.

 
 Use pencil to lightly draw in a succulent. To do this, start with a triangle in the center, then just added petal shapes as you work your way out.

Use pencil to lightly draw in a succulent. To do this, start with a triangle in the center, then just added petal shapes as you work your way out.

 Draw your resist right inside your pencil line. It's really nice to make it a bit wider on the outside edge of the petal than on the little edges coming up from the previous row.

Draw your resist right inside your pencil line. It's really nice to make it a bit wider on the outside edge of the petal than on the little edges coming up from the previous row.

 
 
 Use a light wash over the whole plant. This way the pencil gets fairly well covered and the resist becomes more visible for the next step.

Use a light wash over the whole plant. This way the pencil gets fairly well covered and the resist becomes more visible for the next step.

 Dip the very tip of your brush into a dark color, picking up just a little. Painting one petal at a time and starting in the center, put this dark bit of paint right at the base of the petal. Then use water to pull the paint, fading it lighter as it works out to the outer edge.

Dip the very tip of your brush into a dark color, picking up just a little. Painting one petal at a time and starting in the center, put this dark bit of paint right at the base of the petal. Then use water to pull the paint, fading it lighter as it works out to the outer edge.

 

You can watch me paint the lettering in the video below, but it's really just practice. Here are a few tips to get you started.

  1. Dip into watercolor to start and use a pallet or scratch piece of paper to get the consistency and flow of your brush to your liking before beginning.

  2. Pull down on the down strokes, lift up on the upstrokes.

  3. When a letter calls for a counter-clockwise curve at the top (for example, cursive, lowercase "f") go slow to make the turn. Give the bristles time to catch up and follow the brush around the curve. This just takes practice.

  4. When making counter-clockwise curves at the base of letters, go fast and lift quickly. It's almost like a flick.

  5. Have fun, enjoy the process and remember, beauty is found in the imperfections!