If you see a tree as blue, then make it blue. - Paul Gauguin


There is so much inspiration to be found in plants and flowers, and today's project is inspired by twigs found on trees.


Painting marks and brush techniques are the main focuses of this week's module: today's project is inspired by organic, simple wooden twig shapes. The project is also about observation, it will be done in your sketchbook painted in deep blues of high flow paint.


Find a few twigs to use as reference. These need not be special - leaves aren't necessary and it's a good idea to observe the twigs without any greenery or flowers, just the basic structure.

Here is a Pinterest board for added inspiration

The project is for your larger sketchbook, use one that is suitable for water based mediums. I use a Moleskine A4 book.

Once you have chosen a twig to draw, mix up some paint.

You will need Ultramarine Blue, Pthalo blue and a very tiny drop of Black High Flow paint.

Ratio: as a basic guide: 10 drops Ultramarine, 4 drops Pthalo and 1 drop of Black. The Pthalo blue is very concentrated and better to paint with than the Ultramarine I find. The black adds a bit of depth to the colour. You will not use any paint medium for these drawings, just water to dilute the paint.

Start the drawing with the dip pen. This blue paint mixture can be diluted with some drops of water to make it more runny in order to make it easier to use with the dip pen. Do not do the drawings in pencil first, jump straight in with the ink lines. If you prefer you can use a paintbrush instead.

The dagger brush is a very versatile brush, and important for this module. I use a Rosemary 3/8" brush.

Apart from being suitable for long lines, the shape of the brush leans itself to suit the form of most plant leaves with a pointed end and the slanted angle of the brush making it simple to paint leaf shapes. In addition, the brush is also ideal for stamping marks. You can see how I painted a twig inspired by a pine tree, with little needles instead of leaves.

Once you have made a twig with a dip pen and angled brush and another just using the angled brush, try the process of stamping marks as well. See video for more details.


Observing, drawing and painting twigs and leaves with a dagger brush and a mixture of blue high flow paints. This sketchbook project is important and will be used as reference for the collage project.

© 2020 Esté MacLeod

© 2020 Explore Colour