How to Paint a Rose – Step No. 3

Leaves on Rose in WatercolorAh, today the flower takes center stage as the supporting cast is brought in to play!

In nature, leaves on the same plant will bounce around in the light and have a multitude of colors. Some will look blue, some will look green, others will look yellow or brown! In order for the painting to represent nature, a variety of colors should be worked into the leaves. For the yellow-green areas I used a very watery mixture of New Gamboge and Permanent Sap Green. I applied it softly and thoughtfully, not completely filling in the outline, but carefully looking at the photo reference to tell me where to place the color and whether or not to create soft or crisp edges. The applications of paint here are really an under-painting for future glazes of color that will be gently layered over the tops of these pigments.

The blue is a very wet, wet, wet application of Pthalo blue. Be careful with this color – it is extremely intense! There should only be a hint of color and lots of water! Notice that some of the edges are softened with water. To review the YouTube video of the Softened Edge Stroke, click the Lessons tab at the top of this page.

Shadows on LeavesI used Burnt Sienna to create the delicate red-brown edges of some of the leaves. Again, to keep it looking natural I did not apply this to every edge, only some. I also used Burnt Sienna to create an under-painting for the darker, cast shadows on the leaves.

Adding a green glazeOnce all of the previous layers are dried completely, I can add glazes of green and yellow. I used several combinations of wet applications with New Gamboge, Permanent Sap Green and Hookers Green. Notice how the “brown” shadows become dark green when the green pigments are glazed on. Be careful not to stroke your brush over these areas too much, be gentle, or the previous layers will lift and create “mud”.

I applied these greens with very wet, gentle strokes. Then, dipping my brush into darker colors, I touched the darker colors into the wet areas to create very soft shadows. It isĀ  important to let the pigment do what it wants to do here. Don’t try to control it too much.

Leaf DetailHere is a detail shot of the bottom leaf. I think of butterfly kisses when I’m painting these areas. Just “tickle” the paper with your brush, using almost no pressure at all. Be thoughtful where the tip of your brush touches the wet areas with darker color, and let it blend on its own. You can tip the paper and allow gravity to move the pigment if you want it to move more. Don’t strive for “perfection”, but strive for “sparkle”.

Next post, the finished painting!


First Mask and Wash on Palm

The first thing I did was to apply masking fluid to the absolute whites that I wanted to save. After the masking was completely dry I wet the paper gently with clear water and a 2 inch soft brush. I apply a lot of water so that it puddles on the paper. Then I tip the board back and forth to keep the liquid flowing in all directions so that the paper absorbs the water evenly.

Once the water has soaked into the paper, has lost most of the “puddle” and simply looks shiny, I add the three primary colors. I don’t blend them with my brush, I simply drop then onto areas of the paper, tipping the board, allowing gravity and the wetness of the paper and pigments to softly blend the edges. I want to keep this relatively light as these colors will represent the second lightest values in my painting. They will also act as underpainting for the next few washes. This will dry quite a bit lighter than it looks when applied.

Now this has to dry completely – bone dry – before I can work on it again.
More to come….

Cactus Flower Lesson 2

It is time for the first big wash! I used a very wet mixture of Permanent Sap Green and Aureolin Yellow.

You can see how wet the application was by the little puddle of paint at the bottom of the wash area. I used this mixture around the painting to work in the preliminary green washes on the cactus leaves.

You can vary the mixture here and there as the photo reference and your preferences dictate. I used some Hookers Green in some areas where I wanted to indicate shadows.

If you would like to paint along, please visit my etsy online shop and click on the Online Class icon. For $5.00 you will receive the photo reference and drawing for this painting. I will suggest that you print each lesson/post. This makes it easier to paint along!

Sunlit Coconuts Lesson 9

Here I have added some Permanent Sap Green to the tree trunk. After it dried I used some Burnt Sienna and created a wet stripe down the tree trunk. Before the pigment dried I softened both edges with a clean, damp brush. This became a soft shadow on the trunk.

If you would like to get the drawing and photo references for this project, please visit my online etsy shop and click on the Online Class Icon. For $5.00 I will send you a pdf file with all of the references and the drawing so you can follow along. Most people prefer to order the references, and print the daily lessons until they are complete. Then they use the printouts as a workbook to do the painting.


Sunlit Coconuts Lesson 4

Today I am going back to my French Ultramarine Blue and adding it as an under-painting where my darker values will be developed. I like to build my shadow areas with glazes. If I start out in the light to middle value range, I can easily correct colors as I progress through the painting. This process also helps me to navigate through the piece.

Each painting is a study project for me. I love to study the values, shapes, colors and textures of whatever I am working on. If I work slowly, I can see more clearly every little detail.

Since this piece is very detailed and there is a lot more in the reference photo than I actually want to paint, I sometimes use bits of scrap paper to mask off areas of my reference photo. This helps eliminate some of the visual clutter in a very detailed subject and I can more easily focus on the area at hand.

I have added some Permanent Sap Green in the cooler, shady areas near the bottom of the piece. I varied the concentrations, values and edges to help create depth and interest.

Lemons Lesson Number 13

Again I add another wash to the background to deepen the value. This time I used very wet puddle of Indigo. This cooled the background color, darkened the value and really made the fruit pop. I used variations of Indigo (very wet!!!), VanDyke Brown, French Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna to further develop small areas of detail around the bowl, fruit and plate.

Remember to spend more time looking at the reference than you do painting. Look for value, shape, color, and edge quality – crisp edges require an application of wet paint on dry paper, soft edges require clear water on the softened edge of the pigment either before or after the stroke is made.
After tweaking a few small areas, I think it is done!

If you would like to paint along with my blog lessons, you can get the photo references and drawings sent to you by visiting my etsy shop, clicking on the Online Lesson icon, and pay a small fee of $5.00. I will then email all the references to you.


Lemons Lesson Number 9

Now I am going back to my French Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna pigments. As a general rule, I either paint the shadows of an object first, or I work from large shapes, to smaller shapes with lighter values to darker values in the process. Here I am working to slowly develop the darker values, paying attention to color, value, shape, edges, all in relation to one another.

Sometimes it is helpful to use small scraps of white paper and cover over the areas of the reference photo that you are not looking at. Expose only the small areas you want to see. Isolating the area often makes it easier to distinguish the shapes, values and edges, and helps increase the accuracy of your brushwork.

You can see the blues and browns in the shadows of the plate and bowl. These objects are reflecting what is around them, so the colors used in the table, background and lemons, will all show up in some form in the shadows and reflections.