Sunday, March 15, 2015

Echinacea - how we got there

Let me deconstruct this little watercolour. It's actually a lot simpler than it looks. 
When the blank page is staring me in the face, I find that Pinterest is a good starting point. I followed instructions from two ArtTutor videos that I had pinned a short while back. (Now, my own painting is not as good as Sian Dudley's, but that's why she's an Art Tutor!)

I worked from a photograph I took years ago in Airfield's gardens, which I can't find right now. (Actually, I'm telling a lie - I know exactly where the printout of the photo is, but I've gone up and down the stairs plenty of times today and I just don't have the energy right now)
A day later, here is the photo:

As per the instructions (I'm a very diligent student), I did a few freehand drawings in my sketchbook first to figure out shapes, shadows and composition.

Then I transferred my drawing to my watercolour paper (I used tracing paper).

I applied masking fluid. Currently, I'm using Pebeo masking fluid. It's very liquid and it applies very easily for larger shapes. And I find it doesn't ruin brushes as much as other brands I've used. And it works really well for throwing on the page or applying with a toothbrush to create lots and lots of little white dots.

Once the masking fluid was dry. I followed the ArtTutor videos to apply paint in a loose fashion. There is a lot of throwing and splashing paint, so wear an apron! I worked with quinacridone gold, phthalo turquoise and a touch of opera rose. I also used another phthalo blue mix for the really dark mix at the bottom left.

Here is how the page looked after all that paint:

When the paint was all dry, I removed the masking fluid. The flower shapes were not as white and neat as I had hoped for. What happened, I think, is that the masking fluid was covered in paint, and when I started to rub to remove it from the page, some of the paint transferred to the paper. Just as well I wasn't painting daisies. At this point, I was very concerned that my painting was going to turn ugly. But I had nothing to lose. So I soldiered on.

I used the technique from Art Tutor (do watch the video, it's well worth it) to pull shadows onto my petals. Then I applied opera rose paint, petal by petal. I used a little wooden stick in the wet paint to pull the veins, and I lifted some of the paint with a tissue where I wanted highlights

And finally, I tackled the pom-poms. I was happy with my base colour, indian red deep, as it was vibrant but transparent at the same time. And then I mixed the indian red with a dark phthalo blue and I applied the spike shadows dot by dot, trying to follow the general patterns. I tried not to overwork it - a hard thing for me to do. 

So there you go. I hope you like it.

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