Finishing a pencil layout for a plumeria watercolor of seven blossoms I am now able to begin painting the first red bloom. Painting this subject is therapeutic for my soul. I almost feel the soft smooth petals with their bends and curls as I imagine the intensely bright colors and intense perfume. Can’t say that I miss the sticky fingers from the sap. But, their heady perfume was always the most welcoming part of getting off the plane whenever I went back home. Isn’t it funny what things you miss the most about childhood memories?
The smell and feel of a bag of plumerias. Hmmmm.
The Colors In Red?
Here is the red plumeria paint up-close as it dries. I love the way watercolor does half the work for me by moving of it’s own accord wherever there is water to blend with the other colors. It lets me add drops of bright magenta or yellow that completely changes it. I add light washes of darker shadow details after the wet parts dry. I re-wet the dark shadow areas putting a dark line “cast-shadow” where the petal curves up toward itself. To feather the inside edge of this cast shadow I carefully add a little more water for the paint to fade into.
Making the Center Hole
Later, re-wetting the center, I put a thick small drop of blue and paynes gray. A little dark dab expands perfectly making the hole in the center and, showing where you thread the lei needle through coming out the back stem ready to thread the next flower on.
The next blossom starts out as a white with yellow center plumeria that is partially covered by other flower petals on both sides.
The first four plumerias are painted on the top in a variety of colors. You can see that the top right blossom has changed to become a light pink & yellow and the blossom directly below it is now the white & yellow instead. A closer shot shows how I can go darker pretty easily, but not lighter.
Another white & yellow center on the left side is followed by another dark red on the right. Here is a closeup to see how the watercolors are working, specifically where the hole in the middle bleeds so wonderfully. Now, the next trick is to decide what colors go where for the last three flowers. Decisions, decisions, decisions.
I am happy with the random placement of color for now but how about the background?
I thought of another custom that used to be practiced by us, it was to put a lei in the surf when someone you love goes away or passes away. The flowers float on the water for quite a while. You can sit on the sand and think for quite a while. I decided to paint water for these plumerias to float on. You can see how I use lots of water to drop different colors into. Fun!
The last decision is to make the last central bloom a light pink up front and center. Our pink tree had a very sweet perfume. It took an hour or so to put light and dark shadows to help show shape with light and shadow.
Plumeria Watercolor Finished
It is all pau! I am sending it to a friend I have known since 4th grade in Kahaluu, who used to make lei’s and ride the school bus among other things with me.
Betsy, Mele Kalikimaka!