Kyria Smith, one of our Fuel Your Creativity artists, is known for her beautiful mixed media pieces that feature gradient color lays and fine details. After Kyria has created a gradient background in her artwork, she adds in her linework to make the piece pop using Arteza Gouache Paint, and Arteza Detail Paint Brushes. Read more about Kyria and her vast interests and inspiration here!
- Paint Brushes (Flat, Round and Detail if possible)
- Gouache Paints
- Watercolor/Mixed Media Paper
- Cup of Water
- Palette of Choice
Kyria has already traced out a bird of paradise leaf and needs to create a gradient color lay as a foundation before she can add the fine lines. She is using shades of green from our Sea and Earth Tones Gouache Set.
First, add water to your gouaches and mix into a consistency that resembles melted ice cream. Gouache paints dry down opaque, so to keep that beautiful finish, you don't want your paints too watered down. Next, start laying down strokes of light green gouache in the top half of the leaf with a flat brush.
Next, Kyria starts painting at the bottom of the leaf using the dark green. Where the two colors meet, simply swipe your brush back and forth to mix them on the paper. In this demonstration, Kyria found she needed to add a bit more of the lighter green. Gouache is fairly workable, so as long as the gouache is still wet (on the paper and your palette), you can blend as long as you like. If the paint does dry, then you can simply create another layer.
Lastly, Kyria uses a small round brush so that she can create a gradient effect on the stem of the bird of paradise leaf. To create contrast for the dark green base of the leaf, she uses the light green at the top of the stem. Kyria continues the same process and techniques as above with the stem. If you’d like to read more about gradient techniques from Kyria, click here.
Tip: When switching colors, make sure you wash your brush thoroughly, or simply switch to another clean brush if you have one accessible.
Once she is happy with the gradient color and it is fully dry, Kyria can move on to details. Kyria adds white gouache to her light green color, which creates a brilliant light shade for her linework. Using a lighter shade for linework makes the background pop, giving her piece more of a graphic or comic look. For other tools, Kyria uses an Arteza detail brush for the linework of the bird of paradise leaf. To get smooth lines, consistency of gouache is essential. If the paint has dried up, add a bit more water to achieve that melted ice cream consistency again.
First, she creates the center vein in the leaf, then she starts on the inside of that vein and works out, making the horizontal veins on one side. Kyria continues this process by going up the leaf and then on the opposite side. She enjoys creating spacing between groups of veins to add variety; additionally, the sides are not entirely symmetrical. If your brush runs out of paint before the line is finished, you may need to add more water to your paint or just load your brush more heavily. If you happen to get bumps in the line, or the lines go outside of the leaf, it is ok as more details will be added to cover it up.
As a finishing touch, Kyria outlines the bird of paradise leaf. In this demonstration, she uses the same shade she used on the veins for the outline. If you want to create a more dynamic piece, you can use a darker shade. To thicken the line, simply press down on the brush lightly so that it will flatten out and create that effect. Kyria also adds an outline between the bottom of the leaf and the stem.
Now you've created a stunning gradient leaf with a playful pop. We hope this technique from Kyria Smith has inspired you to experiment with gradients and linework. Make sure to share your artwork with us on Instagram!