Painting A Wreath

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Duration: 50:40

Wreaths are a wonderful compositional form that are customizable in a variety of ways: different subjects, colors, and even lettering, says artist Mia Whittemore. When creating her wreath paintings, Mia likes to work from big to small, starting with the largest elements and then filling up the circle with smaller designs and shapes.

Mia paints on hot-pressed watercolor paper and is working in acrylic gouache, though watercolor and water-based gouache also work well for painting wreaths. Mia is using a twist on the complementary color pairing of red and green, muting her colors and tinting them, too. She starts by sketching her design, loosely drawing the circle shape first. She then sketches the large roses she wants to feature in the wreath. She draws the large leaves attached to the roses. When adding the leaves, Mia thinks about their orientation, using the circle to guide the their direction. Once the largest elements are sketched in, Mia draws her next biggest elements, tulips, before adding in buds and smaller leaves around the circle. When the sketch has enough elements to fill out the circle, Mia erases the original circle line.

After the sketch is finalized, Mia uses a No. 4 round brush to block in the bigger elements with acrylic gouache. She will work her way down in brush size as she adds finer details later. Mia blocks out her painting in a similar order as she sketched: from large to small, except she will overlay the tulips last. As she colors in her leaves Mia notices bare spots so she paints some in freehand. While acrylic gouache is opaque, it may take an additional layer of paint to completely cover the pencil lines made during sketching, warns Mia. Once the elements are blocked in, Mia turns to the details: adding the petals to the roses, shading the tulips and painting veins on the leaves. Lastly, Mia adds tiny buds, leaves, and blossoms.