Painting simple leaves needn’t be tricky. If you want to learn a quick and easy technique to paint simple leaves with acrylic paint, read on!
First things first — we’re not going to be botanically accurate or anything here. These aren’t the most detailed, realistic leaves you’ve ever seen in your life. What we’re going to be creating is simple, impressionistic leaves. (Impressionistic means we’re giving the impression that these brushstrokes are leaves… our wonderful brains do the rest when we look at the finished piece.)
So with that out of the way, these leaves are super simple but really effective. And the technique isn’t a whole lot different from the tutorial I did on painting simple flowers with acrylics a few weeks back.
The brush stroke is basically a squish then a flick — you squish the brush down onto the page and then flick it downwards. So technical, I know… Anyway, with a bit of practice, you’ll be able to paint these leaves with no bother at all.
So let’s go on to a few hints and tips for how I did this…
I used a fairly small bright brush (or a short flat, depending on how you know it). I like this kind of brush for quite a lot of painting techniques as it’s what I’m comfortable with. You can use whatever kind of brush you like. Just make sure the brush you use has stiff enough bristles for acrylic paints.
The colour green I painted the example leaves with is a mixture of phthalo blue (I always have to think twice when I type that to make sure the Hs are in the right places!) and lemon yellow. You can use a ready mixed green if you like. You know me, my mantra is: use what you have. It’s all good!
How To Paint Simple Leaves In Acrylics
- Acrylic paint (either a ready mixed green or a yellow and blue to mix your own)
- A small paintbrush suitable for acrylics (one with stiff, springy bristles)
- Some acrylic paper or other thick paper/thin card
When I’m painting a regular leaf shape I like to paint two brushstrokes. You may want to adjust your brush size to accommodate this, especially if you’re painting larger leaves.
We start by loading the brush with green paint. Squish it down onto the page before painting a small curve that ends with a flick. I used the side of the brush rather than the flat of it. Repeat this from the same starting point but curve the other way, and try to make sure the flick ends at the same end point. The flick creates the pointy part of the leaf.
Paint a thin line for the stalk and add a stem too if you like. Play around with placing the strokes at different angles to give different perspectives — you don’t always want the leaf face on to the viewer.
Start by painting a thin green line for the stem. To paint the leaves, we need to do the same squish and flick as with the regular leaf but with just one stroke per leaf. Do this multiple times to make pairs of small leaves all the way down the stem. Make sure there’s a leaf at the very end of the stem. Again, I used the side of my brush.
As with the regular leaves above, it makes sense to play around with perspectives and colours. You can also try curving the stem, or making a smaller or larger scale fern.