The purple Cosmos was a vivid beauty in our garden this year. Inspiring this artist to try out her wings with a new subject. Here is a completed watercolor study of a single purple blossom.
Via “Wikipedia“, Cosmos is defined as the world or universe, regarded as orderly, harmonious… quoted from my print version of the Webster’s Universal College Dictionary in the studio. Yes, I still use printed books to look things up because the old references often cover subjects more fully. In my printed version there is an additional definition #4 that is relevant to what I am sharing today.
4. Any of a genus, Cosmos, of New World composite plants having open clusters of flowers with red or yellow disks and wide rays of white, pink or purple.
BTW, I only have the purple cosmos, anyone want to trade purple seed for white and pink? I have a lot of seed, because I save them after harvest and use them the following year. Let me know if you’d like to barter.
This is a study of the Cosmos flower up close. I do studies before I do any larger paintings. Using an Arches paper scrap that is much smaller than I usually paint on, I practice and see how to paint something new. This is not the first time I have been inspired by this beautiful blossom, check this embroidered Cosmos tablecloth out. It was a fun project that took over a year to finish embroidering by hand.
Beginning with negative painting I put the background in, then warm it up with a wash of Azo Yellow. I then put in the yellow center and add shadows. Followed by, working my way out to the petal edges adding light and shadow.
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
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.
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
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.