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How to Paint Ivy Leaves

Updated April 17, 2017

Ivy is a vibrant plant, made up of leaves that are normally uniform in colour but also have a strong angular shape. Ivy leaves make for an interesting subject to paint, but the challenge for the artist is to use shading technique to bring out the individual nature of each leaf. This article explains how to paint green ivy leaves in watercolour.

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  1. Lightly sketch a rough outline of the ivy leaves and veins with a pencil to allow for corrections. Charcoal can be used, very delicately, as an alternative.

  2. Use a colour wash of light green to fill in the ivy. Leave the edges of the leaves untouched. Let the paint dry.

  3. Lightly paint the outline of the ivy leaves. Then paint in, again lightly, the individual veins; let the paint dry.

  4. Begin to use heavier brushwork. Go over the outline of the ivy leaves and the veins of the leaves again. You will now be able to see the basic structure of the painting.

  5. Test out the consistency of the paint for the final stage on a sheet of paper; it shouldn't too watery or too thick. After the previous stage has dried, shade in the green of the leaves. Carefully study the subtle variations of colour in the ivy leaves, changing the shade of green accordingly.

  6. Tip

    In the final part of the painting, concentrate on each leaf individually. This will produce a better overall look, though it may seem more laborious than jumping back and forth between the leaves.


    For an ivy plant with many leaves, concentrate on just one section.Trying to paint too much of the plant will make it difficult to concentrate on, and accurately portray, each leaf.

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Things You'll Need

  • Ivy plant
  • Watercolours
  • Pencil
  • Paper

About the Author

Paul Rance

Paul Rance began writing in 1979 for small-press publications and was a columnist for the British small-press publication "Rattler's Tale." He has had articles and reviews published on many subjects, especially relating to music, cinema, TV, literature and poetry. He was educated to A Level standard at Rapid Results College in London.

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