painting creases and folds on flowers

poppy flowers

                   Images 1 and 2: layers of the yellows and orange in the same way that I had described earlier.

                   Image 3: I have started putting in the folds here, this time wet-on-dry.

                   Image 4: In the area which I have marked `a`, you can see that one edge of the folds is hard and the other edge is soft: for this type of fold, apply the shadow color wet-on-dry and then soften the upper edge with a damp brush. You can also lift out a thin area of highlight on top of this fold. I have also added WN winsor red to my mixes in areas which tend towards a redder hue. You can also use it brighten your shadow color if it looks too dull. Schminke red madder dark is a dull red which I have used in shadows, Winsor and Newton winsor red is a nice red which is not cool like Schminke´s ruby red.

                   Image 5: A large shadow here made by the petal behind the main one. You can do this wet-on-dry softening any edges if required. The top and bottom areas of the petal marked `a` and `b` are darker, add a little more of blue and red madder dark to the mix and add this while the wash is still wet. Add creases now with a darker shadow color. You can also do them later when the petal is completely dry: Add them wet-on-dry and run a damp brush over them to soften the edges. The edges of the large bottom petal tend towards red. Leave out highlights in all the layers, you can tint them later.

                  Image 6:  The area marked `a`has some winsor red and tends a lot towards red.

                  Image 7: The area marked `a` is a shadow color, if you make this too bright, it will pop forward and wont give you that cup shape over there.

               In general, I have first wet the petal gently (being careful not to disturb the previous layers), put in a shadow color whereever soft edges are required and then put in the darker shadows and also shadows having harder edges. Study the petal carefully before wetting it and then lay in the colors confidently without fumbling, as going back and forth is sure to ruin the wash. It doesn´t matter if you don´t paint the folds exactly as you see them; you only have to get a feel for the three dimensional form and get that sense into what you are creating.

              Paint the shadows on the butterfly created by the two wings overlapping each other, where they don´t overlap you should be able to see some nice bits of clean yellow of the first layers shining. The shadow colors tend towards green (specially the top wing) and some towards orange.

painting creases - steps

              Here´s the photo that I had taken on a nice, sunny day at the market:

poppy flowers

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More buds and leaves

 

                  This leaf behind the bird has some of the darkest values. The first layer is a greyed yellow, the second one has the shadow green flowing into the first wet in wet.

first layers for leaf in shadow

 

              Here I`ve brightened the green a bit:

second layers for leaf in shadow

 

                The darkest values are put in here. Tint the veins to a dull yellow green:

details for leaf in shadow

first layers for bud

second layers for bud

 

                  If you compare this bud to the foreground bud in my previous post, you can see how far back into the picture this one looks. Its not only because these colors are paler but also because the highlights have been subdued. This differentiation in planes is necessary in order to give depth to the picture plane, that is the third dimension:  

bud details

 

             One half of this leaf has an yellow underwash, the other half is bent in another way to catch the light differently, it is bluish grey:

first layers

                 Here I`ve wet the leaf leaving the lines for the veins dry. Don`t worry if some of them merge a bit, they will look more natural that way. Then I dropped in a green mix at the corners of each segment. They make beautiful shapes on their own which look very natural and unforced, the beauty of watercolors!

second layers

 second layers

 

            Drop in darker mixes in the same way and tint the veins. Paint the stem in yellow greens and pale pinks.

final details

 

                  I`ve done these leaves in a different way. I had painted the entire leaf that is at the corner without leaving the whites for the veins. This is a watercolor technique that is not used so much. The lighter valued yellow veins have been painted on a damp wash. Usually while a wash is damp, it is at a delicate stage where you would not want to mess around too much, since that would cause streaks and `cauliflowers` in an otherwise smooth wash. But it is a perfect stage where you can paint in details like veins or other growths with a stronger mixture (that is less water on the brush than on the paper) to get darker valued elements in the leaf. You can get lighter values like the yellow veins in this leaf if you take a watery mix (more water on the brush than on the paper) and stroke the veins in carefully on a damp wash. The water pushes away the darker color on the wash giving lighter colored veins. Experiment a little with the amount of water you are using. This method is useful for details which need not be too prominent. I`ve also put in the yellow spots this way. On the leaf to the right, the spots are in colored pencil. The effect looks quite different on both the leaves:

light veins painted on darker wash 

 

 

About painting whites and mixing greys

 

                 It promises to be a beautiful, white christmas, here, this year. The mornings are beautiful with the soft, white light in the mornings and evenings sparkling with necklaces of  tiny, yellow  lights dancing in the wind. Have you noticed when it snows, that it is lighter and brighter than you would normally expect with such a weak and watery sun? Its the light reflecting and bouncing off the snow on the ground, bushes and low roofs (that is normally absorbed) that makes it look like there is more light than there actually is.

                 The three primary colors mixed so that they are  equally dominant gives a grey. Equal dominance is not the same as equal quantity;  ruby red, cobalt blue tone and hansa yellow medium mixed in equal quantities will not give a grey, it will give only a dull red since the red in this instance is much stronger than the blue or yellow. Usually you will need more of the yellow to yield a grey but here you need more of both the blue and yellow. Once you have made a true grey, you will notice that it looks rather boring and you wont find the true grey so much in shadows anyway (except in shadows cast by black objects). So instead of making them equally dominant, shift the mixture so that you have one or two dominant. Having the blue dominate gives a blue-grey; having the yellow and blue dominate gives a green-grey; having the red and blue dominate gives a violet-grey etc. Having these colors in shadows makes the subject much more alive. This is especially true when painting whites. Keep all the layers for the bud very light and soften the edges. I`ve also used a bit of cerulean blue for the green areas.

Passion Flower bud

first layers for the bud

second layers for the bud

                 The petals marked 1,2 and 3 below have pure white or pale yellow highlights. This makes them look as though they are sitting on top of the other petals which are in shadow and whose highlights should not be as bright as the  ones on top so as to give that three-dimensional look.

Final Layers

                   This leaf catches the light and is the most yellow-green of all the leaves in the painting. Paint the first layers with yellow and blue.

first layers

                 Mix a yellow-green for this step with just a hint of blue. While the wash is still damp, stroke in the veins with  red-violet and violet mixes. The veins should gently flare into the wash while still keeping their shape.

paint the veins

Watercolor Pencils

 

Eden Rose `85

Eden Rose is a climbing rose and the mother of the family of Romantica Roses

                  

                    I just did this rose as a quick study to test my new watercolor pencils. Its based on a photo from a book about roses by Andreas Barlage. I love the by-line of  his book, the sentiment for this love of roses is so simply put: Ohne Rosen geht es nicht!  There is no literal translation to it in English but its meaning lies somewhere between Can`t do without roses and Doesn`t work without roses. This is what I love most in Germans, their love and care for plants and flowers and the pride they take in their gardens. One can see even very elderly persons pruning or weeding or generally busying about in their gardens on a warm Sommer Nachmittag. The next best thing I like about them is their sense of order. Who doesn`t marvel at their public transport system running like clockwork to the exact minute, one can probably even say second. When I was new here, I used to find it slightly amusing that they would start wearing perplexed frowns  and generally fidget about if the clocked ticked to the next minute and the tram hadn`t arrived by then. Now ofcourse, after many years of living here, I too fidget about as I wait for the message announcing why and how long the Verspätung is. I think I`ve taken to this place like a duck to water.

                  The Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer line is made in Germany and they come with their own individual lightfastness ratings, something which is difficult to get hold of in colored pencils, so you can choose the colors which have the highest ratings. The watercolor pencils are soft and have intense chroma and you can work with them either dry or wet. I thought it would be fun to try them because you get more control with pencils. Also to an extent you can layer light on dark, so you don`t need that kind of discipline that regular watercolors require in that you have to get it right the first time. Just lay down strokes and blend different colors. Also, you can take a white or light colored pencil and go over the entire area softly smudging it. This will give an evenly blended area with a smooth finish, a dry technique called burnishing. Layer on darker colors if needed and repeat the burnishing. For the wet techniques, lay down strokes that follow the shape of the form you are trying to create, and gently go over it with damp brush to even out the layer (but you can still keep distinguishing marks). You can also dampen the paper first and then lay down the strokes which gives a different effect. Or dip the tip of the pencil (don`t dip the wooden casing!) in water and then lay down strokes. They can be combined with their polychromos colored pencils for mixed media work. Their range is color coded in different media so that you can combine them and not worry about colors standing out awkardly.  Lots of exciting possiblities!

                    I painted this rose on WN CP paper, with Albrecht Dürer Ivory, Cream, Warm Grey 1, Cool Grey 4, Light violet, Light Cadmium Red, Deep Red, Madder, Pink Madder Lake, Middle Purple Pink, Magenta, Light Green, Emerald Green and Black (Isnt`t it great when you can get new art supplies, you feel like a child in an ice cream shop who can`t decide on the flavour because they`re all so verführerisch..erdbeeren, kiwi, bananen, pistazie….!). I also used the polychromos Light Cadmium Yellow for the veins. These are a bit hard and they leave an indentation mark, so if you draw in the veins with the colored pencil and layer on top dry on dry they will show even through a darker layer on top. (But if you wet it, the color will seep into the indented line)

Other useful techniques

Glazing: Glazing is a technique where you paint washes of color over already dried washes to change the overall color of the wash. This is primarily used to slowly build up form, one layer at a time. In this sample, a pathlo blue wash was painted and allowd to dry completely. It is very important that it be dried completely, otherwise when you paint the second layer, this first wash will lift creating unwanted splotches. On top of that, brilliant purple has been painted (see shade in the ‘lifting with damp brush section’), the blue and the pink combine visually to make a violet. A green gold (yellowish) has been glazed below that. It shows as a dull green.  

 

Lifting with damp brush: Some pigments are more staining than others, meaning that they are more difficult to remove once they have been painted. Here, I have chosen Schminke’s  brilliant purple (which is fugitive, so I donot use it much) because it is non staining and lifts readily. Paint a swatch of color and let it dry completely. Now take an old stiff brush which is slightly damp. Drag a line on the paint swatch. Blot on a tissue to remove the color which has deposited on the brush and repeat this again and again till you have lifted the color. Lifting is useful for correcting mistakes, painting veins on leaves etc.  

 

Lifting with damp or dry tissue: Paint a blue wash of sky of medium intensity. Before this has a chance to dry, lift patches of the blue with a damp or dry soft tissue to resemble clouds. Lifting with a dry tissue gives hard edges. Combining both methods gives a realistic look. Keep rotating the tissue so that the blue which you had lifted does not get pressed back to the paper. If you find that the paper is drying too fast before you have had a chance to do the lifting, wet the paper first evenly. Just as the sheen is starting to go, brush in the blue color. Wait for a second or two for the moisture to be absorbed. Now start lifting the clouds.

 

Salt technique: Paint a small swatch of a basic wash. The timing for this has to be just right. Take some table salt and sprinkle randomly on the wash, just as the sheen is going away. Donot disturb it, till it is completely dry. After it has dried, brush away the salt gently. This reveals a nice random pattern which can be used as textures for stones and rocks or for snow flakes. You will not get this effect if you sprinkle on a wet wash or wait too long before sprinkling. Experiment with larger salt crystals and see what textures they show.

Splattering: Snow flakes can also be simulated by splattering white gouche on a gray-blue sky. Take an old tooth brush and load it with white paint. With the handle of a brush or by using your hand, scrape the bristles of the toothbrush with quick strokes moving it around the paper. You will get a pattern of off white dots on the gray sky. Take care not to mix the opaque gouche with your transparent watercolors as it will make them dull. Splattering can also be done with different watercolors to give an interesting design to an otherwise boring large area in your painting.