Saturday, 28 March 2020

Spring Flowers Part 1 Level - intermediate

Now that we are all indoors due to COVID-19 I have decided to paint a bright, uplifting and perhaps challenging project for us to tackle together.

Materials you will need
Water Soluble coloured pencils (optional, but useful)
Watercolours, either pans or tubes
2 natural round size 12 brushes (I am using my Classic Round)

1 Pyramid, or Sword brush
Golden Leaf brush
Water spritzer

In my little courtyard garden I have daffodils and hyacinths flowering, so that will be my composition. If you have something similar, use what you have. Your colours might be different, but if you are in that 'intermediate' group, you will be fine.

When I begin a composition, I use real flowers. but I don't necessarily arrange them in a vase to paint them. I think this may stem from my design background, so for this project I am going to create a composition that flows across the paper in a 'bouquet' format. 
This is a great way to work if for example, you have just one or two flowers blooming in the garden, but your composition can have the same flower positioned differently to give the illusion that you have half a dozen of them (sneaky or what!) I know, who would have thought it?

I am beginning by using water soluble coloured drawing pencils to draw the centre of my composition in the middle of a sheet of not surface watercolour paper 15 x 22 inches.
These lines will disappear into my painting.
Sorry this photo is a bit dark, but I take it with my ipad as I go along, I'm sure you will be able to make it out though.

Beginning with a strong Orange and Yellow, and my Classic brush, I paint the centre of the first daffodil, then immediately I use the second clean brush which is just wet, to wet the paper adjacent to my colour, touching the edge to 'invite' the colour to move into the wet area.
Using the first brush again, I apply the colour (still on the brush) to paint the centre of the second flower, the again, using the second wet brush, I wet the paper next to the area I want to invite the colour into.

I do the same for the other flowers in my composition.
So far so good?
Now at this stage you might like to wait for that to dry. I don't, I keep going, however, its 'safer' to wait. 

Using a strong colour mix, I paint the individual flower shapes of the first hyacinth. Whilst these are still wet I spray water using a spritzer, shielding any flowers I want to avoid using the cupped palm of my left hand. This diffuses the solid shapes and makes the hyacinth appear 'fuller'. Using my wet brush I wet the outer areas with clean water 'catching' the edges of the hyacinth in places so that the flower has a 'soft feel to it' 
At this point I like to flick paint from my brush into the wet section. You will notice tiny drops of the purple paint that has landed on the daffodils as well as the background. I leave these, I don't try and lift them or mess with them, but you might like to ignore this bit unless you are confident at 'flicking' the paint out of the end of the brush.
Whilst the flower is still wet, I paint the stem. Its important that this merges with some of the purple, otherwise it may appear to be separate and not part of the flower.
I repeat this process for the second flower.
Let the whole thing dry.
I now go and make a cup of tea, catch up with something else, in other words, I walk away.
Over the years I have learnt that although I decide I wont touch it, I always want to prod at it, and if I do, I always regret it, so I walk away.

 Its now time to begin adding background colour. My advice about backgrounds is never to leave them until the end, always incorporate them either at the start of the painting, or near the start.

I am going to use the same yellow but very dilute, carefully painting around any of the white or light petals, using my Classic brush, then adding water to my brush as I encourage the paint away from the flowers.
Where this colour meets the pale purple, I want to give the impression that it was all painted wet into wet, so lovely soft edges are vital here.

This is a close up showing how the yellow meets the blue as well as how the coloured pencil lines have dissolved into the flower sections that have been wet.

Now I begin to add leaves and buds. Any flowers or buds that 'join' sections of green, need to be painted at the same time. The flower and green together.
This may seem risky, but the results are far more natural looking.

Beginning with the two buds, once again I use two Classic brushes, one will hold the yellow, the other, green.
Beginning at the end of the bud on the left, I place the Classic brush onto the paper and pull it back towards the green area, immediately using the second brush with the green paint, I place that brush onto the yellow, pulling it and lifting to create the belly of the bud and the stem.
The green should merge a little with the yellow.
I repeat the process for the second bud without reloading the green, so that hardly any green is applied to the yellow of the second bud.

Next its the leaves. 
For the smaller longer leaves, I use my Pyramid brush, but you could use a sword brush, and for the wider leaves, I use my Classic 12 again.
I often begin at the tip of the leaf drawing the brush back towards the flowers, but sometimes I work from the flowers outwards. Importantly, I paint three or four leaves, and whilst they are still wet, I use the Golden Leaf brush, damp with water but not wet, I stipple next to the sections of the leaf where I want to diffuse it into the background, allowing some of the brush hair to 'catch' the edge of the leaves and pull it away from the leaf. 
I do this in sections, not all the way around the leaves. (Unless they are in the background)

If you want to watch some great tips on painting flowers and leaves there is a section within the Project Library   if you are interested. There is also a full project with roses and leaves.

This is a good place to stop for today.
The next section will be available tomorrow.

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