Tag: watercolors

Morning Sketch 10 – More Roses

More roses – more C strokes – and then other kinds of strokes to make leaves. For the leaves, brush point on paper, squish down and move, bring brush up to another point. Just as in sumi-e! Then, while the paper and paint are still wet, take the tip of the brush and create little points around the outer edge of each leaf. Some roses have pointy leaf edges, others do not. I don’t think the Rose Police will come knocking on my door, though, so I am safe.

Roses in these kinds of sketches are easy enough to do. However, creating a successful painting of more than one sketchy rose is another story. Light, shadow, shape all begin to play together, and sometimes not very nicely.

Here, a rose with a simpler petal style than the classical tea rose. As a kid in the midwest there were deep red wild roses throughout the countryside, and here in California there is a bush as above along a local trail. There are about 5 petals around a yellow center, and the wild roses are messy things that are such a pleasure and delight to encounter.

Painting a white rose is not easy because white is influenced by light and shadow and shade. Instead, you have to look at the colors in the white – light? dark? cool? warm?

The above little painting was a success, but it is only a sketch. A bouquet of roses will be far more challenging and I really doubt my ability to succeed there.


Negative painting? Check.

Loose style? Check.

Masses of color to create suggestions of shapes? Check.

I am pleased with this painting – there are areas which could be better, but is any painting actually “perfect”? Certainly not in watercolor!

Lilacs are one of my favorite spring flowers. Their fragrance is heavenly and a welcome sight as winter fades away. Sadly, it seems hybridizing them for a coastal SoCal climate is not successful.

I drew the flower masses in pencil, creating general shapes. A few pointy leaf shapes. A glass vase. Dropped petals. From there, the rest happened with lighter washes of color, white areas left behind, and eventual deepening shades of lavender, purple, and pink. Some blue, too. It sort of happened all over rather than section by section.

And then my next painting was a complete disaster!!

Morning Sketch 8 – Shapes & Shadows

Negative painting can only go so far as other things in watercolor need attention. Shapes and shadows are very important for both realistic and more abstract things if you want to make them somewhat recognizable! Consequently, I have been painting fruit and vegetables all morning, to the point I am feeling crazy. Some subjects are more successful, others not, but the lesson is to paint shapes directly and with some finesse, as well as to create shadows while the subject is either dry or wet. Click through at your convenience for a trip to the market.

One thing I have realized from painting all these things is that patience, once more, and mindfulness, is necessary to get anywhere with these things! What looks spontaneous often is not. Instead, it is made up of experience and thought and so on. Persistence is my only hope . . .

Morning Sketch 7 – Negative Painting & Daffodils

More work on negative painting and flowers. I wanted simple but interesting flowers to paint. Daffodils are perfect for this – beautiful flowers, usually one color, and have a relative simple shape – petals and a tube in the middle.

To begin, I obviously did a sketch, and obviously also depend on the sketch to let the viewer know these are (supposedly) daffodils. I painted the blue around the drawing first – working the dark in against all traditional watercolor rules. Then, the vase. Then a loose blobbing of yellow, darker yellow, some greyed yellow for shadows, and a touch of orange for the centers of the flowers. The leaves happened somewhere, and final daubs of darkestness to accent things.

Not a great painting but it was a good practice piece. Still more practice is needed. Negative painting is getting easier. Color blobs are getting easier, too, to show lighter and darker areas, as practiced in yesterdays press-release brush play. Once more, I am not after a botanical painting with detail, but an ability to have a loose, expressive style that shows things in a painterly manner for what they really are.

One day, one day . . .

Morning Sketch 6 – Mark Making

For many years I did Chinese painting and sumi-e (Japanese ink painting), and learned a lot about brush strokes. While the brushes used in these schools of painting are brushes, they are constructed differently than western art brushes and have very different characteristics. However, what you do with them is the same in many instances. Both Chinese painting and sumi-e depend on lines made with ink to create shapes and forms, express colors where none exist, and add color, too.

To create the flowers above, I simply loaded my round sable, placed the tip on the paper, and pressed down gently as I moved the brush from a vertical to more horizontal. The point has more color than the body of the brush and this allows for gradation of colors. The point can be near the stem of a flower and leave a lighter tipped petal at the edge, or be the outer edge and lead to the center; the outer petal is then sharp and pointed. As well, paint can be added to vary colors, provide details, and so on.

Above, the blue flowers have the brush point closer to the stem and the yellow daffodils have the point used as the end of the petal. The freesia, the yellow flower, employs both techniques with extra color added. The alstromeria is done with the pressing technique, extra paint added while still damp, and final lines added with a brush point once the paint was dried.

I tend to forget that brush work is as important in watercolor as it is in ink painting. Shapes and lines and textures are expressed as they are in Asian ink painting. The fact that color is always the most attractive element in watercolor keeps me from remembering the importance of good brushwork.

Morning Sketch 5 – Negative Painting & Flowers

Practice makes perfect. While far from perfect, I have been trying to improve how I do negative painting. Flowers work well for this, but I have also decided to conscientiously work on flower painting.

I looked over at Pixabay and searched for “white flower” – several came up, some too busy with other things, some too simple, some lacking definition. What I wanted were white petals sticking out from something. As I already did daisies, I thought ones a bit simpler but still having interesting characteristics could be nice. Anemones of varying sorts came up, so off I went.

Above is the first one. I drew in the outline of the flower and then painted the center of the flowers but not any shadows on the petals. From there, I worked on the negative painting, trying to paint around the white petals. Then I let it dry and, as you can see in the lower left, put in a darker wash to outline leaves and a stem or two.

The second painting below was a bit more complex. I did the shadows on the flower petals – still white – after drawing in the basic shapes. You can see my pencil lines throughout. Then I did the leaves and stems in a lighter green. From there, I mixed in greens and blues for the most part and worked to paint around the white and shadowed petals, looking for contrast, coolness and warmth. After I let the painting dry, I went in again with shadows, augmenting a few petals here and there. The final step was to paint in the yellow flower centers with a dab and press of the brush.

I rather like these – they don’t look too overworked compared to the previous ones. My style is looser, which I prefer. As well, I worked with tube paints and a bigger palette so as to mix more colors. The paper this time is 100% cotton, a student grade one, but acceptable.

Just because these are better than previous negative painting studies doesn’t mean I’ve gotten there yet! So much more to learn – and a lot to do in that learning process.

Morning Sketch 4 – Negative Painting & Flowers

Negative painting is painting around an object, usually using darker paint around a more lightly painted object. Anyone who paints finds this quite often to be a bit of a mind tweak, so it is always worthwhile practicing. For me, negative painting is best done with the subject matter, if a photograph, done upside down. Then it – and everything else – just becomes a shape. Shapes are easy to relate to, more so than a flower or a whatever.

I really cannot paint flowers easily. I don’t want to create realistic paintings of flowers, but impressions of flowers. Being able to express a flower and to know what it is appeals to me far more to me than a scientific flower illustration. Don’t get me wrong – botanical illustration is stunning and something I love to see and admire them – but I want a looser style.

One way to express a flower is to create it in its environment. A field of flowers can dance in the wind. A bouquet of either one type of flower or many has its own beauty – the shape of petals and leaves and stems creating their own designs. Stems and leaves seen through clear glass are distorted fascinating to see.

For now, though, I just wanted to practice negative painting. I drew my flowers, and went to work, laying down basic colors and then coming in with darker colors to create shapes, such as leaves and stems. I did the daisies first, and they are rather crude. The poppies were next, and while the colors are muddy in places, it was more successful as far as what I was trying to accomplish.

New Palette, New Colors

Quiller Palette – 28 Colors!

My all time favorite palette is the Quiller palette, available in porcelain or plastic. Plastic does stain, especially with phthalo colors it seems, so after a few years – 3 or 4? – it was time to buy a new one, and to fill it with colors. I like the plastic – or acrylic – palettes over porcelain because, if they are dropped, they don’t break into a bazillion pieces. It’s always a job to fill up a palette unless you are replenishing old favorites and standbys, but I decided to change a lot of my colors as I’ve bought colors over the past several months and want to put them to use. So, here we go – my new palette and the watercolors therein.

The outer corners of the Quiller palette are put to good use – 8 large wells. Beginning in the upper left corner and moving clockwise, I labeled them, for my purposes, A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H. Color name and manufacturer are listed. Abbreviations: S = Schmincke Horadam, DS = Daniel Smith, H = Holbein, WN = Winsor Newton, MG = M. Graham, S = Sennelier.

  • A. Cadmium Yellow Lemon – SH
  • B. Lemon Yellow – DS
  • C. Permanent Yellow Deep – DS
  • D. Pyrrol Orange – DS
  • E. Italian Burnt Sienna – DS
  • F. Burnt Sienna – DS
  • G. Cobalt Teal – mixture of MG and DS to use up MG
  • H. French Ultramarine – DS

Next, if you look up into the upper left corner, you will see a spot marked on the palette with a rather long, pointy thingy. It is a yellow next to a rather periwinkle color on its left. That yellow is #1 in the following list, and clockwise around, ending in #24.

  • 1. Hansa Yellow – MG
  • 2. Hansa Yellow Deep – DS
  • 3. Gamboge – MG
  • 4. Naples Yellow – MG
  • 5. Quinacridone Gold – MG
  • 6. Translucent Orange – SH
  • 7. Cadmium Red Light – H
  • 8. Cadmium Red – WN
  • 9. Permanent Alizarin Crimson – DS
  • 10. Pyrrol Red – DS
  • 11. Quinacridone Coral – DS
  • 12. Raw Sienna – DS
  • 13. Raw Umber – DS
  • 14. Burnt Umber – DS
  • 15. Cerulean Blue – MG
  • 16. Cobalt Blue – DS
  • 17. Prussian Blue – S
  • 18. Manganese Blue Hue – DS
  • 19. Phthalo Green, Yellow Shade – DS
  • 20. May Green – SH
  • 21. Hooker’s Green – WN – the only one for me!
  • 22. Cobalt Violet – MG
  • 23. Carbazole Violet – DS
  • 24. Lavender – H

Sometime over the next few days I am going to paint out a sample of the palette and colors, copy it, and paste it to the lid of the palette. This way I have a copy on hand, and if the one on the palette gets messed up, I can print out another. I also like to read up and do a bit of research about the colors, and often refer to the Dick Blick site to get pigment information and Jane Blundell’s site to read up on her comments.

It’s nice to know a bit about colors, and with so many new formulations on the market this becomes a good thing to do. What I think a color is may be very different than what a color is – such as granulating or not, fugitive or not (I try not to buy those, but I do have some normal alizarin crimson and rose madder genuine), warm or cool. Besides this, it is good to know in which direction a color “leans” – that is, does the red I am looking at lean to the blue or yellow side of the palette. Such things affect color mixing. As there are lot of new-to-me colors, it is good to become acquainted with my new friends.

And there we are.