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First leaf painting (finished)

edited January 2018 in Painting
This is my first painting of leaves.. which is a real challenge for me as I am used to painting portraits or the figure. 
However, I decided to challenge myself as I really want to gift this painting to my grandparents for Christmas. They recently moved out of a house they had had for decades so I wanted to paint them something sentimental that would remind them of their old home, which had a beautiful fig tree. 
I am however, really struggling to paint these fig leaves and get frustrated with the process as I don't feel like I am painting the leaves well. I feel like they lack detail and look rushed (which they are). I find myself getting lost in all the tiny parts in each section and end up making it up as I go.. 
If anyone has any tips for painting leaves or how I can make these leaves look better, I would really appreciate your help! :) 
As you can see, I have planned to paint figs on the bottom of the canvas but I don't really know what to do with the currently blank space between those and the leaves. Any suggestions or ideas are welcome! Perhaps more leaves? Or even a change in composition?

Here are photos of the two leaves I am painting: 

The color match it a bit off and so are the leaves themselves compared to the photographs but at this point I just want the leaves to look decent, regardless of whether or not they match the photos perfectly ;) Thank you very much for looking! 


  • I like leaf paintings.

    Here is my suggestion:  Your leaves look fine to me, but there are a couple of easy modifications which might just change the way they look enough that you might be happy with them.

    I would go over the central vein running down the leaf, and some of the veins branching off to the side.  However textured and bumpy the leaf itself looks, the veins are quite consistently colored and edged.  If you could make the veins a little more uniform in color, and more straight and structural looking, if would help.  I wouldn't change anything about the fleshy part of the leaf.


    Second, I think the outline of the leaf needs to be a more defined edge.  I don't mean increased contrast, just a cleaner line.

    If you want the leaf flesh to look less bumpy (I wouldn't) then very subtle blending in those areas will do that.
  • @PaulB Thanks a lot for your comment :) I didn't think of making the veins more uniform in color or more structural so that's very helpful, I'll definitely try doing that! As for the edges of the leaves, I agree that making them more "crisp" will enhance them. 
  • @bethskg Take a look at my leaf in the "Tar Spot" thread of a couple of months ago, and you'll see that  I had to pay attention to the colors of the leaf as it transitioned to the vein color.  I found a darker line there in many cases, and I see you've done the same here.
  • edited December 2017
    @PaulB Wow. Your leaf looks fantastic!! So realistic. I will definitely be reading your thread in more depths before I continue my painting. Thank you for sharing it, it will be very helpful. 
  • Good leaves, good figs.  Good depth effect with the dark areas around upper leaves.  Well done.
  • I like what you've done with this. I like the square format and the way you've fitted things in. The leaves have good texture and the figs look luscious.
  • Really like the colour and depth of the figs. I think a darker, cooler background would work better to push it back a bit.
  • Thank you for your comments! @Boudicca I was initially going to make the background even lighter, but I can see that a darker cooler one could be more successful in bringing out the elements. Thanks for the insight. 
  • Well done @bethskg, taking from different sources can be tricky and you made it work. @PaulB, see? leaves don't have to have tar spots to look nice.
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