Bouquet of Lilacs

 

            I got tired of (more like, going out of my mind) waiting for my new set of papers to start another painting, so I decided to do a small demo as a value exercise on a left over piece of paper that I had dug out. This photo of the sweet smelling lilacs is contributed by ‘onefromheaven’ to the RIL of wetcanvas.com. I like this combination of white-pink-lilac.  

Lilacs from RIL of wetcanvas.com

 

              These lilacs are in strong sunlight and its fairly easy to observe the values. Not only does each individual floret in a cluster have core shadows within them, but the cluster as a whole also has highlight/core shadow regions. The light rays are falling on them from the top right, so the shadows are cast towards the left, bottom of each cluster. The highlights are on the top, right of each cluster (except when there is a cluster above it which then casts its own shadow on the one beneath, so the highlights are in part in shadow e.g the two violet clusters at the extreme left). If you are short sighted, you will see the light-dark areas better if you remove your specs and then observe (the details are lost, so that there are only blocks of color). Squinting also works. I made this rough sketch on a 14*8 inch paper, (also indicating the shadow regions) soaked it for 2 mins in clean water and taped it to a board and left it to dry. 

sketch

 

                I then mixed puddles of ruby red+ pthalo blue, magenta, magenta + pthalo blue, sap green, aureolin yellow, yellow green and hookers green. I wet the paper evenly and dropped in the colors taking care to leave the flowers white. If your paper allows it, it will still be wet and you can go ahead with the next step but if its beginnning to lose its shine, stop and leave it to dry thoroughy. Ruby red+pthalo blue makes a somewhat subdued violet and I used more of this for the background. I also used this mixed with a little yellow for shadow areas in the next step. 

wet in wet wash

 

                 For the white flower cluster on the top left, you can see the shadow area at the bottom. For the pink one, I wet the area and dropped in magenta and magenta+pthalo blue. The highlight area is towards the right. Similarly for the other flowers. Painted in some leaves roughly.   

basic shadow areas

 

                   Make some positive floret shapes and some negative ones (outline a floret and wash away the edges). Hookers green is quite opaque and gives a nice dark color mixed with a bit of the violet mix. I outlined the top of the white cluster and washed away the edges onto the background area. Added some dots of yellow for the centers of florets in the highlight and raw sienna /green for the florets in shadows. 

crop, left

details 1

details 2

details 3

          

                 I wet some of the leaves and added some darker colors and also cast shadows and veins.

Bouquet of Lilacs

 

                   It helps to paint something that you like and are interested in, beacause then you have already seen it real life and know the 3-dimensional form of it. Only then does it make sense to paint from photographs.

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Spring is in the air!

 

              It’s the most beautiful time of the year now, to be in the park, close to nature. Ours has been newly developed and within a very small area, but it is just a few feet away from the house, and even with children playing around, it feels quite secluded as it is bordered with trees on one side and wide open spaces on the other. One always gets the things one needs at the right time.

             The seasons are not quite so distinct here as in the more colder regions. When I first went to Deutschland, I was amazed and delighted at the way the landscape changed as the year progressed. Beautiful, white snow and bare trees in the winter; tulips and daffodils, new leaves and buds growing almost overnight in the spring; bright, colorful masses of flowers hanging from balconies and pleasant temperatures in the summer; the coloured leaves of autumn…… Its not quite like that here, in southern India. Winter is very pleasant with just a bit of cold, if at all. Spring brings in the extra sunshine that we miss subconsciously. Days are longer and we wait with dread for the summer. Aaargh! The heat is intolerable, maximums reaching 47 degrees centigrade. Its like being baked in a large oven, with hot air blowing even at midnight. I believe the British called this town ‘Blaze’ wada for ‘Vijayawada’ , long ago. And then, ah! the sweet monsoons……torrents of rains for one or two months. The thick dust on the leaves of the trees is washed away, cool breezes start flowing, the air feels clean and pure and the smell of the earth which the rains bring…. I confess, I have the urge of eating it.

          You can feel the spring air when you step outside. It feels different somehow. The mango trees have put out their tender, yellow-green tiny fragrant flowers. The koels (cuckoos) have started to come and there are butterflies dancing everywhere.  

mango tree blossoming

Koel's feather

 

          Most of the trees here are evergreen, but some of them start shedding their leaves in the winter and replace them with new growth in the winter but its not that noticeable in that they never become totally bare. This tree is at the front of our house, and though my mom calls it ‘pichi mokka’ (waste plant), I love its growth pattern, the leaves join at the branch with a zig zag and not straight stem, which gives it a necklace like pattern and they wave very prettily with the wind. You can see the new leaves here, with some brown withering leaves at the bottom of the picture. It used to be draped ever so gracefully, from bottom to top with a dark pink bougainvillea tree which used to flower profusely all year long. What a sight they made! But it had to be cut down for practical purposes and when I was not here, otherwise I wouldn’t have let them.   

Orange butterfly

         

                   You can see the old leaves as well as the new growth in this snap clearly. Butterflies and wasps are hovering about this tree like crazy, for its tiny white flowers. We get to sit on the stairs and watch them every morn and evening. 

feb16-040

 

          I think these white cranes are starting to migrate away. I have taken these shots two or three months back.

cranes

cranes-flying

       

              I don’t know the names of these little birds, they have a little red colouring under their tails. They are nowhere to be found now, but in winter they used to come in flocks every evening to the trees at the park. They are quite noisy and quarrelsome, I watched these two fighting over a butterfly.

birds

Finished Painting – Earthly Paradise

 

         Here’s the final painting and some close-ups. Visit http://www.neeluswatercolors.wordpress.com for a higher resolution image.

earthly-paradise

ep-crop1

ep-crop2

ep-crop3

ep-crop4

 

            For my poor humming birds, I wet the birds, stroked the ripped paper in gently to pat down the paper fibres and applied the colors. I mixed silver with pinks, magentas, violets, pthalo blue  and gold with indian yellow, yellow green, sap green for the birds. I particularly liked the gold and yellow green combination. Looks very natural. I dabbed some of it on to the lighter coloured leaves as well… what can I say, I am becoming a glitter girl.

the Rhododendrons

 

             For the rhododenrons, I started with a wash of aureolin yellow for the reddish-orangish areas. I did this for the yellow areas of the leaves too. I like having a yellow underwash whereever its possible because if you get a hard edge now and then, they don’t show up that much and you get to know beforehand  the contours and nooks and crannies of the flower before applying darker colors.    

yellow underwash

 

                    I started dropping in ruby red onto moist petals and a mix of magenta and UB for the shadow areas. I dotted onto the drying petal with a darker mix of the same (favouring UB) for the spots. 

rhododendron; step 2

 rhododendron; step 3

 

                   For the buds, I painted wet on dry as they are pretty small and also quite dark.    

rhododendrons; step 4

 

                   I got so excited painting the gold and silver for the sepals………. It actually shows up quite well, doesn’t it? even on screen. I just loved the glitter. And yes, the sepals really do have the gold and silver tinge to them in the reference photo. Not on the stamens though, I got carried away….. haaa.. I mixed them with the other colors (red, green, yellow) to get the pastel shades. The leaves are a mix of sap green and UB.

Rhododendrons!

Morning glories and Fuschias

 

         Here, I have started on the foreground flowers on the left hand side of the painting and the colors that I used are:

         Schminke’s  magenta, ruby red, ultramarine blue, pthalo blue, indian yellow, aureolin yellow, sap green and Lukas burnt sienna. 

         These morning glories are of a beautiful sky blue, sunlit, which I changed into purple in the painting. In this first step, I wet the entire flower area (except where the petals overlap and form a hard edge like in the bottom most left flower) and starting at the outer edge, dropped in magenta of medium consistency, taking care that that the wash doesn’t flow into the white centres. As it was just starting to dry, I lifted out the color with a slightly damp stiff brush for the whitish veins. I laid in a first wash of sap green mixed with a little indian yellow for the sunlit leaves.

morning glories 1

 

                   Here, I have started adding shadow areas with two mixes of magenta and ultramarine blue, one tending towards the magenta and the other darker mix favouring the UB. Some of the white veins have a dark violet border.

morning glories 2

 

                The mask is still there on the fuschia buds and stems and I wet the area behind them and dropped in the same mixes so that they look like far off buds. The leaves that are bluish because they are facing upwards, I put in a wash of aureolin yellow and UB.

morning glories 3

 

                      In this step, I washed over the entire flower with a mix favouring the UB, and added some shadows and veins as they were drying.

morning glories 4

 

                Magenta is non staining, and so it was easy to lift off the color for the veins for each layer but at the same time, layering was difficult as the previous layers tended to lift as soon as water was applied. These shadows I applied wet on dry, trying to soften the edges some times. The centres are aureolin yellow with a bit of indian yellow at the edges to give depth. Lifted off a whitish line in the middle for the stamen. For the flowers which are in shadow, I used raw sienna for the centres. For the buds, I wet the area slightly, dropped in aureolin yellow at the base, (or sometimes sap green for the smaller buds) and diluted magenta at the top. As it was drying, I stroked in diagonal lines of a little darker violet. ( 0 number brush). The stems are sap green, but some are purple too. The shadow on the lower leaf is a mix of aureolin yellow, UB and a little violet. 

morning glories 5

 

                 A mini catastrophe here, I removed the masking and it wouldn’t come off. The upper layer of the paper got torn and I don’t think I will paint all of the birds as the details would not show at all on the ripped paper. I will merge some of them in the background. Here, I worked on the fuschias. I did them in only one wash as they are very small. The buds are quite translucent and I wet the area, and dropped in the magenta and the UB, sap green at the base and top, marking the veins with darker colors as they were starting to dry. Same with the flowers, wet each petal separately, dropped in the reddish mix on one side and the bluish mix on the other side of the petal. I also used a bit of ruby red. 

fuschias

 

                 Started on the area behind the flowers here, using aureolin yellow mixed with a bit of UB. At the bottom, I painted in burnt sienna, adding vertical strokes of a darker brown (adding a bit of violet to it) so that it looks like the morning glories are creeping over a tree.  

morning glories and fuschias 1

                  

                    Darker mixes towards the bottom (violet mixed with sap green)

morning glories and fuschias