Landscape demo in watercolor

I have started painting this landscape, the photo of which I had taken on the way upto Mt. Pilatus (I think!, my photo folders are all really messed up). The fall of the branches and stems looks so pretty, that I finally settled for this close up of the tree itself as the main focus instead of the entire view. Feeling euphoric to be painting in watercolour again!


I have put in a few leaves in liquid frisket to leave as highlights, then an initial wash testing the colors and getting my feet wet. I have used green gold and phthalo blue to get a green which I subdued with a red orange (Daniel smith Pyrrol scarlet):



Short demo of venetian sketch

This is a scene based on a photo that I had taken while on vacation some time back:


I started the sketch with a black faber castell Pitt water proof pen on a paper blank journal. The paper is archival quality but not watercolor paper, I just wanted to make sure
I loosened up and didn’t go into any kind of detailed rendering. With these sketches, I am looking more to establishing mood and atmosphere , at overall shapes and light and dark patterns, being free and having fun experimenting with different styles.


I have already started indicating a few shadows with the pen. I wanted it to have more color than the scene actually has, so I washed the walls with yellow from raw sienna + hansa yellow medium, pink from rub red + red madder and orange from raw sienna + pyrrol scarlet. The shadws are from dumonts blue and burnt sienna.


The green for the plants is perm. green light and hansa yellow medium with the dumonts blue and burnt sienna for the darks. The water is also washed with the same dark green with the color of the buildings thrown in.


Colored pencil Portrait Demo

Colored pencil portrait

Colored pencil portrait

The first step is the line drawing and I wanted this to be pretty accurate as I was going to paint it, so I felt my way on the drawing with a sort of grid, not with lines but with dots to indicate half way and quarter way points. I then transferred this drawing to watercolor HP paper. Before I start diving into the colors, I want to remind you that to build any form, be it a rock or a face, what is important is to understand that form can only be built up through light and shadow and so to get the values right, the colors are of secondary importance. The highlights here are coming from the other side of the forehead, the nose, the top of the lower lip, the cheek bone. The area where the forehead turns is in shadow, as is the area beneath the nose, inside of the mouth, the chin and the neck.

The colors I have used are Caran d’ Ache (a Swiss make) and Faber Castell (a German make) colored pencils. The Caran d’ Ache are slightly softer than the Faber Castell. Using small circular strokes and a sharply pointed pencil, I covered the areas of the neck and jaw with CA Reddish orange. This I went over with FC Cinnamon and FC Indian red and CA Burnt Sienna for shadow areas, burnishing (applying heavy pressure) as I went along to get a smooth appearance. The area of the nose is cooler (pinkish violet), here I went over with FC light flesh, FC medium flesh, CA pink, CA Bluish pale and CA Light grey. The highlights on the forehead and cheekbone have CA pale yellow as well. The more saturated area of the cheek has FC Light cadmium red.The lips have FC Deep scarlet red, FC Pink Carmine, FC red violet and FC magenta. Other colors I have used include CA Umber, CA Black, CA Grey, FC ivory, FC cream, FC Van dyck brown. Coming to the background, its not a great idea to use new/different colors here, for there´s the danger of the background looking to be a part of one painting and the face a part of another! The colors I have used for the rocks and weeds are  CA pale yellow, CA pink, CA Bluish pale, CA Grey, CA Light grey, CA black and FC umber.

Finished Painting – Joy of Nature

Joy of Nature

Joy of Nature

             I finished the painting a while back, the background was a little daunting and I spent a few sleepless nights over it(!), the upper portion, though it is quite light must have atleast half a dozen layers on it..  I have only one in-between step here:

Well, our traitor of a system crashed in on us and here I am back again, after having lost a few precious files and gained a few headaches but with a huge plus of acquiring a fab, cool , apple mac stand-alone. The thing is…  the colors in my latest paintings look a bit too saturated on this now… can’t control how they will look across different systems, I guess… I spent a lot of time thinking how great it would be to have a bio-chip with the google search engine woven into the inside of our left forearms’ ha ha… its like not having your right arm without it …. I mean … a dozen times in a day, its ….how do I use the new herb that I got..or do I place the new plant in the sun or in the shade…or …or…. geez…. actually I had suggested this idea to my husband (a long time back) because he was always punching numbers into his calculator, so I told him he should plaster that to his left forearm so he could just raise his arm and punch into it whenever he wanted.. ha ha… ok I am rambling now… time to sign off…

painting the leaves and midground

pansy and poppy leaves

pansy and poppy leaves

The two yellows mixed with phalo blue in different proportions will give you a variety of greens but they will have to be toned down with greens´ complimentary colour, which is red; but you can also use the orange to create interesting natural looking greens. i.e. I have used DS hansa yellow medium, DS new gamboge, MG phthalo blue and S translucent orange plus also S red madder dark to push the mix to a darker value. MG phthalo blue and S translucent orange also gives a very interesting dark-valued blue-green. DS perylene green can also be used in shadow areas. For foliage, the most important thing to keep in mind is that ready made greens or even those mixed from yellows and blues should (almost) never be used directly, they will have to be toned down with a red or an orange to create greens that donot look artificial. Just a bit of the red will give a fresher green whereas adding more of red will give you shadow greens.

pansy and poppy leaves

pansy and poppy leaves

painting the centers of the flowers and the garden light..


garden light

                   Wash in a layer of hansa yellow medium for the center of the smaller poppy. After this has dried, paint the pollen with new gamboge also painting in tiny shadows on them with your shadow yellow color. The stigma at the center is painted with hansa yellow medium also with shadows. Separate the filaments using negative painting by cutting the orange of the flower into the center, also use negative painting to further define the filaments at the right side. The center of the main flower is painted similarly but it is almost completely in shadow; so glaze over with a final layer of the shadow yellow colors.

                   For the garden light, first see and mark where the highlights fall, you need to get the right shapes for them. The top, left area is catching the blue of the sky, leave the center completely white, there are some orange highlights towards the right and blue-green towards the top right. Let dry completely. Mix some browns, orange-browns and violet-browns using the orange, blue and red madder dark. Wash in a medium value brown wet-in-wet and add darker browns as this is drying. For the light, keep all edges blurred; keep the center white and around it start adding new gamboge and orange around the yellow. White, yellow, then orange. The metal really makes a nice contrast to the delicate flowers while at the same time connecting it to them with the warm colors.

steps for painting stamens and stigma

garden light

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

How to paint poppy flowers

Here´s where I am on my new painting of cheerful, sunny poppy flowers (which I found here at Weil am Rhein), a cute little tulip solar garden-light (a find at the Europa park) and a beautiful sulphur butterfly(from I wanted a true yellow here, not as warm as new gamboge and not as cool as hansa yellow medium, but somewhere in between like WN winsor yellow, but this is not completely transparent (you can see in the chart below, that it somewhat decks the black line, (colors are not reproduced exactly the same on screen)). So, for the first washes I have used a mix of the hansa yellow medium plus a little bit of new gamboge.

Wash over the petal with water and wait for half a minute or so to let the water sink in, then layer with a light mix of these two yellows (photo 1). Let it dry thoroughly and repeat this step leaving areas for the highlights (photo 2). Repeat again with a layer of Schminke translucent orange (photo 3), leaving the edges a little paler. Lift out highlights with a stiff brush. Repeat with another layer of translucent orange (photo 4). Add the shadows in the next layer. Adding just blue to the orange, will give a olive tinge to the shadow color, so add some Schminke red madder dark as well to brighten it. The layer  in photo 5 has this mix of S translucent orange, S red madder dark and (very little) MG phthalo blue. Add an extra bit of phthalo blue in the stronger shadow on the inside of the petal. Paint in creases on the top side of the petal. Lift off highlights.

On a 11 step value scale, you need to get to a value of 8 to 9 in the deeper shadows, 4 to 5 in the sunlit areas and 2 or 3 in the highlights.

For the butterfly, paint wet-in-wet a mix of the two yellows, favoring the cooler yellow (photo 3). Repeat this step for the next layer (photo 4). Repeat again, this time adding the translucent orange in some areas (photo 5).

How to paint poppy flowers -1

Spring Song (Apple blossoms and Prairie Warbler)


Strengthened a few colors here and there:

Spring Song

Spring Song

Finished Painting – Spring Song

Spring Song

                  For the warbler, the first layers are in DS hansa yellow medium and the next ones have a bit of DS new gamboge to get a darker value. The spots are put in wet-in-wet with a dull red mix. Add shadows with a dark brown mix under the wing and feather groups. The nest is in various shades of brown, after putting in a few squiggles and lines with masking fluid to save the lighter colored twigs:

Spring Song