12 Days of Christmas Cards, Candle
A candle in your window at Chrismas is a traditional way to welcome baby Jesus. I've always thought it was a lovely gesture to welcome guests - and my husband at the end of a long work day. Something to warm your heart on a cold dark winter night.
This candle takes a little longer to paint than some of the others but is still about 20 minutes of painting time. Most of the time is spent letting the layers dry completely, since darks need to be painted in several layers. It's a great opportunity to practice painting strong darks!
This is still a very simple Christmas card to paint. So find a lovely candle in your home, and paint it tonight!
All paints I use are M. Graham transparent watercolors, except white gouache. Other brands I recommend are Daniel Smith and Schminke.
- Nickel Azo Yellow
- Cadmium Red
- Maroon Perylene
- Ultramarine Blue
- Cobalt Blue
- Cobalt Teal
- Burnt Sienna
- White Gouache
Christmas Card Painting Steps
1. I loosely sketch the candle holder in cobalt teal and nickel azo yellow. I paint the candle with a little Nickel Azo Yellow.
I let this dry.
2. I sketch the window in maroon perylene. I want a rich dark, so I drop in ultramarine blue. This is going to take several layers of this combination, drying in between.
The candle is still barely tinged with cadmium red and nickel azo.
Let this dry. Repeat!
3. Now the candle is glowing with cadmium red. Still painting in layers to give the translucent glow.
A few cencentric circles give the idea of a silver candle holder. Remember, this is a Christmas card sketch. Painting the candle holder as simply as possible is great practice! You don't want to be bogged down with details.
Let this dry completely.
4. I pull out the candle reflection with water and my #14 round. Just paint it and blot it. Then a light touch of yellow orange gives the reflection a glow!
Add a few crisper details on the candle holder. Not too many - still just a suggestion.
A few drops of cadmium red make the candle glow.
For a final touch, add white gouache highlights whereever you see a reflection. Try not to paint the candle flame with too much white. It's mostly translucent yellow-orange. A touch or 2 of opaque gouache is all it needs for highlights.
So it's time to put a candle in your window and set up your sketching area! The trick about this painting is not to let all the details overwhelm you. You're trying for fewer strokes, many layers and the suggestion of the candle. If you paint too much detail, it won't look good until it's photorealistic. And then you might as well send a photograph!
Send this candle card to warm someone special's heart at Christmas. Have fun with it!
Merry Christmas and a Joyful Holiday to All!