Painting Leaves and Mixing Greens

Every leaf is different in colour, shape, edge and contour. This course will focus on mixing greens, and botanical watercolour painting techniques. Learn how to identify, match and mix the correct leaf colour and how to achieve leaf shadows. Expanding your colour palette you will be able to identify and match almost any of nature’s greens. Comprehensive colour mix demonstrations are an integral part of this workshop. All skill levels welcome and individual tuition. Bring leaves.


  • Guided Observation of different species of leaves, shapes, colour and contours.
  • Pencil Drawing: Students to complete an accurate leaf drawing with focus on shape, surface contours and tone, indicating highlights and shadows.
  • Painting: Comprehensive painting techniques demonstrated (method of painting green colour charts & techniques suitable for various species and sizes of leaves).
  • Watercolour: Colour charts of Greens to be completed by students for colour matching.
  • Colour Studies: Colour studies (or practice paintings) to be completed.
  • Colour Mixing: Using a variety of pigments, learn to achieve a wide range of green colours.
  • Final Painting: Final painting to be completed and class paintings appraised by tutor.

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Identify different types of leaf shapes, margins (edges), contours and colours.
  2. Learn how to identify and mix a variety of green colours.
  3. Learn the importance of shadow colours on leaves.
  4. Draw and paint the leaves, including foreshortening and turned over edges.
  5. Discover the unique paintings techniques for various leaves.
  6. Use their recorded colour mixes for future colour matching.


  • Bring various botanical subjects – leaves, flowers, fruit, vegetables, seeds or pods

Drawing Materials:

  • Smooth drawing paper. Several sheets of A4 and A3 size, or from a sketch pad. The size of the paper will be determined by the size of the subject.
  • Drawing Pencils: HB and 2B. If you have other grades, these can be used as well.
  • Paper stump (or torchon). Available at art shops.
  • Clutch or propelling pencil 0.5mm HB (Optional)
  • Staedtler white eraser, or other good quality white plastic eraser
  • Grey kneadable eraser
  • Small Stanley knife, art scalpel or single edge safety scraper blades (for sharpening pencils)
  • Very fine grade sandpaper for sharpening graphite in pencils to a very sharp point
  • Large soft brush to remove erasings
  • Paper towels or tissues
  • Magic Cellotape or masking tape
  • Baking paper (to protect work) or tracing paper
  • Magnifying glass, hand held (magnificiation x3)
  • Ruler

Watercolour Materials:

  • Winsor & Newton brand Artists' Quality watercolour paints recommended (5ml tubes_. The Winsor colours are more transparent and less expensive. The cadmium colours are stronger, richer in colour and semi-transparent. Both are lightfast and permanent. Try to use the preferred colours as these will achieve the best result.
  • Cadmium Lemon (Alt: Winson Lemon)
  • Cadmium Yellow (Alt: Winsor Yellow)
  • Cadmium Red (Alt: Winsor Red)
  • Permanent Rose
  • French Ultramarine (Alt: Winsor Blue – Red Shade)
  • Cerulean Blue (Alt: Winsor Blue – Green Shade)
  • Burnt Umber
  • Indigo Blue

Brushes, Paper and Other:

  • Round Sable Brushes: Sizes 0, 3, 5. Check the point of brush. Do not purchase Designer or rigger brushes with long hairs. Kolinsky sable brushes are superior and come in the following brands: Winsor & Newton Artists' Watercolour Sable Round, Art Basic Series 300R, Rekab Pure Kolinsky Sable, X72 Art Spectrum. Different shops carry various brands and the prices vary
  • Nylon or synthetic: These are used for mixing, not painting with. Brands include: Golden Nylon and Golden Sable (synthetic). Size 3 or 4 for mixing. Nylon brushes usually have red handles.
  • Paper: Arches or Fabriano 300 gsm hot pressed (smooth). 56 × 76 cm sheet (can be cut into various sizes) or Arches A4 Watercolour pad, hot pressed 300 gsm (optional). If you prefer to work with a pad, it is less expensive to purchase an A3 pad and have it cut into halves (Officeworks will do this).
  • Container/vase to hold plant specimen or florist oasis
  • 2 x Water Containers (jars) or large plastic containers
  • Preferably ceramic palette (for mixing colours)
  • Clean cotton rag, paper towels or tissues
  • Smaller piece of watercolour paper, for recording colours, experimenting with colour mixes and to ensure brush is loaded correctly with paint. (Small Arches 300gsm hot pressed watercolour pads are convenient). PREPRINTED BLANK COLOUR CHARTS ARE AVAILABLE FOR $2 PER SHEET

Please note that the larger the area of the leaf, the more difficult it will be to paint. Very large leaves (such as ginger species or strelitzia leaves) will not be suitable for a beginner.

IMPORTANT: Please arrive to the first class with all the relevant materials. A lack of materials is not just a handicap to you but to the ability to teach. Materials cost is not included in a course fee. In the event of a course being cancelled WEA cannot be held responsible for the purchase of any course materials. We therefore suggest you purchase your materials closer to the time of the course commencing.


  • The Art Scene, UNSW Art & Design Campus, Greens Rd Paddington NSW. Ph: 8815 1569
  • The Art Scene, West Ryde, Ph: 9807 6900 (incl. online shop)
  • Bondi Road Art Supplies 179 Bondi Road Bondi. Ph: 9387 3746. (Closed Fridays and Sundays)
  • Eckersley’s Art and Craft Store 93 York Street Sydney, Ph: 02 9299 4151. Also at North Sydney, St Leonards, Chatswood, Caringbah, Parramatta & more.

Enquire at your art shop for a Student’s Discount with your WEA course receipt.

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