Doing a rose watercolor involves many steps. Most of the time I can describe my steps simply as washes-on-top-of, washes-on-top-of, washes and so forth. I tend to pile up layers and layers of wash until I like what I see.
I began with this yellow rose layout in a sketch. I put a real light wash in the body of the flower bloom first. Being carefully light with the paint I add the long stem and it’s leaves, along with the little bud peeking out on the left side. I am encouraged.
Lately, I have noticed that I have a habit of painting backgrounds with tons of detail going to the very edge of the paper. To change things up, I will work on getting a dramatic background without walking in those footsteps this time. The biggest realization I have is that this is not going to be good without some serious background to help it pop out. The challenge will be to make an appropriate background that pops but doesn’t take over the main image.
A light yellow rose watercolor can very easily fade into a white background and become a ghost. The background is my beginning to remedying that. With violet wash as a background I add a mixture of Crimson with it on wet areas to the edges of my main character. A good change, don’t you think?
Dropping vermillion or cadmium reds into these areas give a little more zing as it bleeds into the background violet and crimson.
Examining the watercolor rose procedure pictures I’ve taken makes another step that I take real apparent. The picture that I took of the blossom is the reference for the rose watercolor.
Never hesitate to get your old fashioned gear out. Improve by using “photography technique” along with that “real camera” (not a smart phone). Nothing, takes the place of good reference material. If you are trying to improve and learn about where the light hits and shadows extends to, use a well lit photograph. There are millions of amateur photographers out there flooding FaceBook and the image banks with junk, but very few “real skilled photographers” capturing memorable shots with enlightened essence anymore.
At this point we are looking at the dry version of this watercolor painting. Take note of the differences between the last two images and you will see a noticeable amount of fading occurs as the paints dry. While looking at a wet painting, there are many times that I am tempted to dab a bit of the pigment out of it because it seems so very bright when wet. If I can resist that urge, I am usually a lot happier with the result because the paints do fade so very much by the time they are dry.
This dahlia watercolor progress is slow as I experiment with getting the bright colors and shading right. It has been a while since I painted flowers, even though they are one of my favorite things in life. Isn’t it funny that we get distracted from what we love with our work in life? This paining seems to be more of a study of the light and casted shadow on the various petal surfaces. It is truly amazing how many surfaces there are on a single blossom. I love the play of light and how it makes something seem so 3D whenever I get it right.
Pink, my kingdom for a pink
It is surprising that the most difficult areas so far have been getting the right pinks to appear. It requires that I actually get the right amount of water to dilute the paint with the main one being used as Alzarian Crimson, or Scarlet Lake, the darks are better with the violet or purple ranges added. My daughter shares my interest in flowers, she has a site named www.dahliasinbloom.net, a place worth checking out.
You can see why I feel so inspired by blossoms, each day as I walk through our garden, I not only see vegetables and fruits. Luckily, there are many blossoms to pause and smell as I do my daily chores.
At this point, I am not sure if I am liking the way this watercolor is coming out so I may put it on the shelf to rest while I get back to my real work. When you paint for work sometimes your personal paintings have to wait till there is time again. The most important thing to me is to not make a big stack of unfinished art in my shelf, so I keep working on my un-done stack every week to keep it real small. A uncluttered studio is a happy studio.
The lighthouse and the other exterior buildings at the top of the cliff are rendered using grays and black for shadow and shape. The final adjustments throughout the rest of the painting are completed using red tones in the cliff side, and darker tones along each wave crest and the shoreline. All small touches that are so important to give that final zing of movement and shape.
The cliff on the left side of the image needs more earth tones and detailing. I need to darken all the way down to where the water is splashing up onto the rocks. It is a very high contrast area of the painting.
From this point on I typically add details to the most blaring areas first. The first areas catching my attention are the two areas on the cliff where the mastic was applied. They are way too bright and the wrong shape. I apply a light wash of earth tones to both bringing the values more in line. OK, they are less blaring.
Now I add shapes and colors as I see them from my reference images beginning with the middle area.
It is time to remove the mastic so I can get down to the details in painting this view. I start on the left side of the image, see the crisp whites appear where the yellow once was.
Proceed to the right side till all of the mastic is removed. Not all areas that I am removing the watercolor resist from were totally white. It is especially noticeable in the cliff where some of the original light wash shows through.
The cliffs are highlighted first with one of my favorite colors, Quinacridone Gold by Daniel Smith. I am replacing the colors I run out of with this brand whenever possible because the colors are so vibrant. To darken the Cliffside in the areas that are recessed along the shore I use an earth tone created by mixing greens and reds. This color combo creates the best blacks… a great array of darkness.
The same blues used in the sky are then added to the ocean swells along with greens and purples to mark the darkest areas in the waves. Water always seems to reflect the sky so well.
Here is what the painting looks like with the mastic applied to all the areas I want to reserve white areas. The resist is yellow, now I will be able to wash colors into larger areas without worrying about ruining the white areas.
I began with a sketch made from my own photograph of the area because I liked the wave layout better. It seemed much more sunny and welcoming of a pattern of currents.
I quickly realized that I would not be able to preserve all the little areas of white without using some mastic (watercolor resist) to reserve the many areas of white and foam in the surf. So I let the surface fully dry and applied this resist before I was able to proceed.