5 Step Foliage Painting

Hey there, friends! I wanted to briefly share a fun (and detailed) way of painting bushy foliage. This technique is nothing new, but I think seeing each step in it's entirety may help as you create your own versions. Enjoy!

P.S. Wondering about this unique word? Head over to my Instagram to see the finished piece and for more info.

First things first: This is the stage we call a "block-in." Simply paint a shape you'd like your foliage to take on. Don't worry about it being perfect because this part will be getting covered with a few more layers. You will also need to be mindful of values. Compared to the other layers, this color should be the darkest in value. This will allow the illusion of simplified form to start developing. You can also see that I've left the letters unpainted. That is a choice due to the intention of the piece. No need to leave space if you don't want to! 


On to the second layer. This is the next value and it will be painted as small, leaf-like strokes. Remember to vary the direction of the leaves as it can become too "windblown" if they are all going to one side. Additionally, the colors you choose should be relatively the same temperature in order to seem cohesive on one plant. The greens I chose here are rather cool, which means they lean more blue than yellow. 


Next is the third and final layer of leaves. You can certainly add more if you wish, but this one seems plump enough for my taste. These leaves can be smaller, different in size, and especially vary in direction. See how life-like these layers can become? With a bit of overlap, my letters also seem nicely nestled. I'll call this layer done and move on to the finishing touches.


What's lovely green foliage without some blooms? I liked the way these peach colors worked against the cool greens. When in doubt on what colors to pair, try a variation of classic complements. Red and green, yellow and purple, or blue and orange. In most cases, these will be naturally pleasing.


This last step is more a personal signature of mine. Outline the first layer (outer edge) and the top layer with ink. This seems to give a bit more distinction between the layers. If you find you'd rather leave your piece as is, go for it!

And that's it! If you enjoyed this process, I'd love it if you would pass it along and share it with a friend. 
Have a great Tuesday, everyone!