Plumeria Watercolor

red plumeriaPlumeria Layout

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.

red plumeria up closeThe 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.

red, white & yellow plumeriaThe next blossom starts out as a white with yellow center plumeria that is partially covered by other flower petals on both sides.

four plumeria colors

four plumerias up closeThe 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. 

peach, white & yellow, red, pink plumeriayellow & white plumeriaAnother 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.

Backgrounds

I am happy with the random placement of color for now but how about the background?

water background plumeriasI 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!

plumerias final detailsThe 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.

plumerias finishedPlumeria 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!

 

 

 

 

Plumeria Watercolor in Process

Plumeria White Ylw 02
Plumeria White & Yellow 02

This watercolor in process recreates how the flowers look when they are rinsed and spread across a kitchen table, while stringing leis.

Notice the yellow centered white plumerias have a brilliant center fading out to white edges and tip. To accomplish this I wet the entire petal area so I can do a wet-on-wet process with the paint. Fill a brush with Aurolean yellow. Begin applying by pulling from the tip on the outside edge of the petal to the interior in the center and lifting the brush. This leaves a wonderful puddle of light yellow bleeding out evenly and gradually to the outer edges of the petal. Do the other side of the petal.

The next shade is New Gambouge, which is a kind of orangish yellow. Same brush loaded with color, then pulling from about 3/4 or 1/2 of the petal length to the inside and lifting again at the center to produce that darker orange tint in the center. Do both sides of petal. In the image below, you can see how the New Gambouge further defines the radiance of that center area and push it into the distance.

Darkening the Center

Plumeria White Yellow 03

Apply using light touch with a smaller brush of Daniel Smith Quinacridone Gold or an orange brown to your liking, to emphasize edges and the center even more. I notice a darker shadow right under the edges of where the petal folds up on the sides remaining white. This underneath surface of the petal is where I apply the darker color sparingly.

Shadows

Finally, with same small brush I drop a little pool drop of Dioxazine Purple right in the middle where you would insert your needle to string a lei. Purples are a perfect “shadow maker” for yellows. The wet surface lets the purple bleed naturally out into the petal making an incredibly believable shadow and depth.  I also use this same purple in very light washes to create drop shadows where the flowers overlap each other, edge outlines and stems peek out from behind.

Reds and Pinks

PlumeriaRedPink
Plumeria red & pink

The same steps are taken with the red plumeria sing the wet-on-wet process. Using a light wash of Alizarin Crimson, adding Purple Lake, touching with Vermillion then more Alizarin Crimson in the middle. Last is that drop of Dioxazine Purple in the center. For the pink the same steps but what I noticed is that there is almost a stripe effect with the different colors on each petal. I start with an Alizarin Chrimson, adding Vermillion, adding Pyrrol Orange, then Cadmium Yellow Pale in stripes that I let bleed into each other. Again, the last is that drop of Dioxazine Purple in the center.

More posts like these are under the category of “Watercolor”

PLUMERIA memories

Painting PLUMERIA memories can be accomplished if you have enough memories stored away to work from in your mind. Lately, I’ve been doing watercolor paintings of flowers that I used to make lei’s of where I grew up in Kaneohe (Kahalu’u), Hawaii. It is funny cause I start from looking at various photographs from the client and before I know it, I am just painting the colors and textures that I remember. I can almost see and smell a flower in my hands and these memories seem to guide my brush.

plumeriaWhiteYlw
plumeria white and yellow

Right after I finished my client’s piece, I started on my own plumeria memories for a favorite family member’s birthday coming up. She and I made many lei’s together. Starting with multiple sketches of flowers until I arrive at an arrangement that suits me.

plumeria sketch JH
plumeria sketch
plumeriaWhiteYlw
pink plumeria blossoms

The plumeria tree has big pointed dark green leaves, and produces a thick stem that branches out to multiple pods, creating a bunch of blossoms. The plumeria is a 5 petal flower with pointed ends spreading out in an equal circular fashion. It has a sturdy tube constructed from it’s petals-creating an easy to string tube stem that begins as a cone shape coming down from the blossom consolidating into a smaller diameter to where it anchors onto the tree. While picking, you have to take care to keep the milky sap off of yourself. It really is poisonous but honestly, I have never known anyone stupid (lo lo) enough to eat that yucky tasting stuff. I remember doing the “wash your hands” thing right after picking or lei making cause it was so sticky and tasted quite vile (pilau) if you ate something and licked your fingers.

Youth FULL OF Lei Making

In elementary school the designs were fun and simple, but in high school serious designs were done to enter the May Day Lei Making contest at the state capitol. Lei making is truly an art and many Hawaiians excell at creating gorgeous and fragrant creations that are a joy to see and wear. My favorite lei is still the puakinikini for it’s wonderful sweet fragrance, it is almost a magical entrancing aroma.

Back Home

We had large plumeria trees lining the dirt road in the front of our house and people used to come and knock on our door to ask permission to pick. Those trees provided the whole neighborhood with an abundance of blooming treasures to create with and me with a lifetime of painting plumerias from memory.

There was a great big one that had thick white petals with bright yellow centers and a truly heavenly perfume and the thick petals allowed it to last the longest in a lei. Right next to it was a established old tree with blossoms that had a more slender and thinner type of petal with brilliant pinks and the yellow center, it had not so sweet or heavy of a fragrance and didn’t last quite as long.

The only color missing was the dark red, at our house so I got a branch from a friend to plant in the back yard. With careful planting, watering and care, it took off and grew into a beautiful tree right in the guava orchard in the back yard. It took a couple of years before it was big enough to supply “a grocery sack-full” of flowers to work with, but even with little amounts of the dark reds some really interesting patterns and designs in our lei making came from them.

More posts like this are under the category of “Watercolors“.