Tutorial: San Pedro Cactus
I’ve been meaning to post more tutorials and wanted to share my newest one! This is a San Pedro Cactus- it grows naturally all over South America and is the perfect subject for a watercolor! There are several steps where you'll need to let one layer dry before you move on to the next one, so plan for that in advance.
We start with a drawing- the lighter the pencil strokes, the better (in case of mistakes you want to be able to remove as much as possible with a kneaded eraser). You’ll notice that the lines closer to the center are straighter-ish than the ones on the outer edges. Some of the back side of the cactus only show at certain points.
Next, fill in section by section with a mid to light green. Be sure to leave a white edge on the second section from the left- it is a lot easier to leave the white of the paper than to try to cover spots with white later. Now go load the dishwasher while that dries.
After the sections are completely dry, you will add darker spots with a phthalo green. You may want to use a smaller brush than you used before in the first part. Blending around your dark spots will make it a more smooth transition from the light to dark. To bend, first paint a solid color and then clean and blot your brush on a paper towel or clean rag. Then bring your brush side to side between the color and the lighter parts (as shown below). Then maybe take some laundry out of the dryer and fold a little bit of it.
When those spots are dry, use a phthalo blue to make them even darker (you see where we’re going here- LAYERING). And when those spots are dry, you can take it another step further and paint a violet spot that is a little smaller than the blue spot. Maybe finish the laundry at this point- or pour yourself a glass of wine and sit for a minute- you've been working hard!
Let your violet paint dry, then you’ll add white to the tips of the bumps (where the spines will come from). Notice that the ones on the middle section are at the TOP of the dark spots but they are just it the tips of the bumps in the other sections. This may take 2 layers of white- just a heads up.
Last we will add the spines! We need a tiny brush for this one- either a very small round brush or a rigger. You’ll want to use a combination of burnt orange and darker red paint to give your painting more depth and visual interest. Also, try to vary the direction and length of the spines. Now you sit back and enjoy your painting while humming “La Isla Bonita” by Madonna. “Last night I dreamt of San Pedro..”