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Saturday, June 7, 2014

Floral Watercolor Painting Tutorial start to finish

For many people, working in watercolor is both frustrating, and disappointing. Watercolor has a reputation for being difficult to control, or for producing washed out, lifeless paintings, neither of which needs to be the case.  This tutorial will take you from creating the initial sketch on the watercolor paper, to finished product.

For my painting I chose to work directly from one of my own photographs. I highly recommend taking your own photos, and using them to create a picture file that can be drawn upon when inspiration is low. 

The Above photos were taken at the same time, although the daisies aren't in good focus I decided that I would like a combination of both the colorful clouds captured in the sky, and the daisies themselves. To expedite the drawing process, and help me arrange the elements in a pleasing manner, I chose to use a light box. Although this is often reviled by some artists, it is widely used. I could have easily drawn out the elements, but I find this is a good tool to assist me with placement of elements of the picture. I used a combination of three pictures as I wanted more flowers for the final painting.

If you are using a light box, you will want to attach the photo to the light box with a easily removable  artist tape such as watercolor wash out tape or another tape that won't leave residue on the box. Once the photo is attached, the watercolor paper is attached over it where the desired element to be traced.  I chose to rearrange the daisies in a pattern that I found visually pleasing, thus the odd placement on the paper. You can see I have already drawn some of the daisies I wanted in.  It is best to use a 3H pencil and light pressure when drawing. You do not want to have readily visible lines, or to make marks that will cause the watercolor to pool in the indentation.

 Once the sketch was finished I laid down my first wash of Allizarion and a combination of cobalt blue and aureleon yellow on the sky portion only,  I tried to avoid a heavy dose of color over the flowers, but I didn't panic if some of the pink made its way onto the flower petals.  You may have noticed I didn't stretch my watercolor paper.  I do not as a habit stretch watercolor paper, as I find that it strips the paper of the sizing, which is what helps keep the color from being absorbed into the lower layers of the paper, and keeps the painting fresh. You may attach the paper to a board with watercolor washout tape if you want the paper to be kept from moving about, and this does make painting and doing washes easier.
I let the first wash dry before making the second wash.  For the second wash, I will use a combination of the same colors, but carefully avoiding the flower petals. This is accomplished by loading a medium brush with color and working from the further points toward the flower. Try to work quickly to keep the paper wet, but not too wet.  I infused areas I wanted intense color by loading a brush, and dropping it into already wet areas of the paper, using my sky photo as a guide to where the colors should be.  When working around the flower petals, I used a smaller brush loaded with paint and very carefully extended the area of color into the flower.  I did not use mask of any kind, so it was important to use great care. I also was carefully to avoid the grassy area to keep the colors clean, and to avoid sullying the flowers. 
At this point the sky is finished. I let the painting dry completely before resuming work.

The next area to work on was the center of the flowers. Using auraleon and a transparent orange, I laid in the center of the flowers. You may have noticed that I have turned the painting upside down. I did this because it made it easier for me to work on the flowers.  At this time I added pale cobalt blue into the petals, as whites truly are never completely white.  I did a very pale wash around the flowers themselves, not worrying about the area immediately outside of the petals. The final wash would be dark enough to blend that area, obliterating any evidence of painting outside of the lines. Once the flower petals and centers were satisfactory I let it once again dry before completing the final area. 

The stems of the flowers were painted first using a very dilute green and left to dry.  The final wash was of a combination of Windsor green, a little cobalt and a smidge of Payne's grey. Greens can be mixed or used straight from the tube. Be sure to always choose transparent colors to keep the painting clean.  I used a small brush to once again paint around the petals.  Windsor green is staining, and is one of the more unforgiving colors due to this property, so it is important to use great care when working around areas you want to keep white.  I second wash was dropped in from a medium round brush loaded with greens in areas I wanted to darken when the first wash was semi dry.  Letting the canvas dry some will help intensify the washes, and create a brilliant painting.

Hopefully this will help build your confidence, and give you some ideas for creating your own works. 

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