It's July and that means it's World Watercolor Month!
To celebrate, this month we'll have 2 painting projects! So let's kick it off with painting a monster size monstera!
The Monstera deliciosa plant is a favorite of houseplant lovers. This tropical climbing vine features gorgeous large leaves with holes and splits, which is how it get's its common name - Swiss cheese plant.
In it's natural habitat, the plant can climb up to 60 feet and leaves grow up to 51 inches long x 30 inches wide!
But its Latin name, monstera, means just what you'd guess - monstrous. And deliciosa, is exactly delicious too! In the wild, and very rarely indoors, this plant grow an unusual and delicious fruit!
Fenestration? What is that?
This word is new to me also! Fenestrate leaves is the botany term for plants who's leaves grow deep splits, holes, or clear parts within them. Cool right?!
Fenestration comes from the Latin fenestratus, which means, “provided with openings.” Just like these leaves! The monstera's fenestration is one of the the features that make this plant so interesting to look at.
Botanists believe plants grow fenestrated leaves is to spread over larger areas for increased sunlight exposure. The holes help the plant use less energy to produce and maintain leaves.
Let's paint a Monstrous Monstera Leaf!
- Large paper (or a bunch of small pieces taped together on the backside). It doesn't have to be watercolor paper, but it could be. I used 18x24 inch tinted drawing paper, but you can go even bigger if you like!
- Watercolor paint and or gouache
- Monstera leaf reference
- Optional - pen to outline the painting if you like
- Lots of photo references of Monstera deliciosa can be found with a quick image search, or visit your local botanical garden or plant nursery and snap some shots for yourself!)
- In pencil, draw a light outline of your leaf's perimeter.
- Take note of all the overlaps, leaf fenestration, & the negative space shapes specific and unique to your very leaf. Enjoy and delight a moment in that beauty - and in the fun of drawing big swoopy loose lines!
- Grab some green colors and paint in that monstrously large beauty!
- Try the wet-on-wet and glazing techniques to get a beautiful deep green richly photosynthesized look in the leaf.
- Then pop in some highlights using the dry brush technique.
- Not sure how to do these painting techniques? Check out these tutorial videos!
- You can see I used tinted drawing paper (not even watercolor paper), so the opacity of gouache mixed with watercolor paint provided me just the opaque pop I needed on this gray paper. The gouache also allowed me to use a little less water so my paper start to didn't peel up while I painted.
- Painting Big Tip: Normally, when using wet-on-wet you wet the whole leaf area you want to paint, but with such big paper, wet it and work in sections or else the paper will just get all wrinkly and be dry by the time you get to the later sections anyway.
- I layered in the watercolor underpainting with the wet-on-wet technique then painted with the mix of gouache and watercolor paint over that in very painterly style. I mixed all my paints right on the page.
- Brush Tip: If your brush hairs start splitting your brush is too wet. Wash it and dry it off well on a paper towel, or you can switch brushes. I know, I don't want to do it either when I'm painting in a flow with multiple brushes in my hand that are loaded up all nicely with a mix of paint. But you have to resign yourself or else you'll start getting weird lines and poor blending.
- Have fun with painting big! Watercolor painting is often done so small in a journal or block. Painting big is a great excuse to let loose and be a little messy. It's very relaxing!
Have you seen a monstera plant as a houseplant, in the wild, or in a botanical garden? Have you ever tasted the sweet tropical fruit that monstera deliciosa produces?
What did you think about it? Share in the comments below!
Share photos of your monstrously large monstera painting on Instagram #wingswormsandwonder !
Seeds to Sprout:
World Watercolor Month
What is World Watercolor Month you ask?
Well check out this post on this great charity event from previous years! And find a bunch of links to watercolor projects!
31 Days of Watercolor!
31 paintings in 31 days - could you do it? That is one of the challenges you could participate in for World Watercolor Month!
Check out this post to discover more about the fun challenges and the charities involved in World Watercolor Month!
Learn to Paint Watercolor!
Watercolor Basics for Nature Journaling is a free video series I created a while back to help teach the foundations of watercolor painting in a fun and approachable way.
If you're new to the medium, or just want some fun warm-ups and refreshers, check out these videos!