beechwood pastel painting







Single Tole Leaf oil painting demonstration.

basic leaf

A simple leaf using oil paint, one-stroke brushes and techniques.

These techniques can be used regardless of the brush size; covers paint mixing and colour value; double-loading; 'S' strokes with the Flat brush; use of the Rigger and blending. (If you are unsure of the brush strokes click this link tole brush strokes and print a copy, use the Back button to return here.)

Brushes: ¼" One Stroke brush and No. 2 Rigger brush.

Oil Paint: Cadmium Yellow, French Ultramarine, Ivory Black, Titanium White.

Mediums: Zest-it® Clear Painting Medium, Zest-it® Brush Cleaner.

Bits and Bobs: Palette knife, kitchen towel, palette and grease-proof paper to practice on.

three basic leaves  

Mixing the paint colours.

Using the palette knife mix together equal amounts of Cad. Yellow and Ultramarine Blue, this will give a green. This green is the main leaf colour. Add a few drops of Zest-it Clear Painting Medium to the paint and mix in. When you lift the palette knife away from the paint small peaks will appear, the top of these peaks needs to 'flop' over, if they don't, add more medium.

Divide your mixed paint into three piles.
To one pile add extra Ultramarine or Black to make it darker than the original colour. This will be your dark green.
To one other pile add extra Cad. Yellow and a touch of T. White to make it lighter than the original colour. This will be your light green.
The pile that is left is your leaf green colour.

Tip: Make sure the peaks 'flop'.

start double loading  


double loaded  

Painting the leaf.

Sketch a single leaf shape like the one at the top of the page.

Double-load the brush with the dark green and green. Take dark green on one corner of the ¼" flat One-stroke brush, place this on the palette, move the brush backwards and forwards through the paint, keeping this colour to the one side of the brush.
Dip the opposite corner in the green paint. Put the brush down onto the palette in the same place and again move the brush backwards and forwards. Always put the brush down in the same place. The two colour should start to mix in the centre of the brush. Pick up more paint on each corner, put the brush back in the same place and continue loading. You will need to do this about three times to load the brush correctly.

Tip: The brush should 'glide' through the paint, if it feels 'hard' or pulls, then not enough paint has been loaded into the brush. The paint should only come half way up the hairs.

brush strokes  
first strokes  

The Stroke.

Try some practice strokes about an inch long. Paint two strokes like those shown in the first stage. Put the chisel end of the brush to the surface with the handle pointing to the ceiling. Move the brush slightly to the left. Apply a small amount of pressure, the handle now points towards you, and pull for the desired length. Release the pressure and move the brush back onto it's chisel end, move the brush and lift off to the left in one flowing movement. Put all these actions together to form one continuous movement to paint an 'S' stroke.

Tip: If you have any holes in the painted line or it doesn't reach the end, then either the paint is too thick (add a few drops of medium) or the brush isn't loaded enough (add more paint to the brush).

Paint the two strokes at the base of the leaf, fig. 1, then the stroke from tip to base on the dark side fig.2.

It is often a good idea to have two brushes to work with, one for the light side and one for the dark, it saves keep reloading the brush.

blending the painted strokes  

Take a clean ¼" One-stroke brush and load with light green on one side and green on the other in the manner described above. Use this colour combination to complete the remaining outside edge of the leaf. The first three steps are now complete.

painting the center  

Take your flat brush and pick up some Cad. Yellow and place in the unpainted centre of the leaf. Wipe the brush on kitchen towel to remove excess paint.


Use this brush, one stroke at at time, to blend the leaf.

With light pressure pull across from the dark side towards the light side, wipe the brush after each stroke and repeat along the dark side of the leaf. Using the same method of 'blend and wipe', blend along the light side. Repeating the same process up the leaf. The final blending is down the leaf.

Tip: Too much pressure will remove the paint, not wiping the brush will transfer colour.

finishing the leaf  

To complete the leaf take the No. 2 rigger and load with thin 'watery' yellow/white paint. To mix the paint, dip the brush in the Zest-it brush cleaner and transfer to the palette, add to this small amount of Zest-it a small amount of T. White and Cad. Yellow, mix together with the brush, the paint needs to be thin enough to 'write' with. Practice a few curved lines. Use this brush and colour combination to add the veins to the leaf. Keep the lines very thin.

Tip: Touch the ferrule to the kitchen towel to remove any excess Zest-it liquid or it may run down the brush and thin the paint too much.

Use the Rigger brush to add the stalk at the base of the leaf. Paint the stalk in with green, and add dark green to the left side of the stalk.

Try this technique for any smooth edged leaves. Pick some out of the garden, use photographs or pictures in a book. Try painting different colour combinations, adding extra highlights or darks.

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