Finished Painting – Earthly Paradise


¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Here’s the final painting and some close-ups. Visit for a higher resolution image.







¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† 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.


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.¬†



                 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

Updates on the painting

lower branches



The bg and mg is almost complete. I will do some final adjustments,¬†some more work on the river¬†after I have done the flowers…….

sacred fig tree

Starting on the painting….


¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† I loved the voilet shades on a hummingbird and planned to use them on the birds here though I had not added that particular bird here. I mixed some colors with the blues and reds that I had, namely ultramarine blue, phthalo blue and cobalt blue ton with magenta and ruby red. Phthalo blue is little towards the green side and it didn’t make a particularly good violet; I chose ultramarine blue and magenta. The last two squares on the top row are Schminke’s gold and silver. The third last one is violet mixed with silver, its not too sparkling…. like I would need for the hummingbirds. The colors in the chart below look slightly different on screen.

chart for violets (bottom two rows)


               I masked the birds and a bud or two of the fuschias and left it to air dry thoroughly.    

              The background wet into wet wash is the most exciting and scariest part of the whole painting for me. I mixed puddles of

pthalo blue,

 indian yellow (this is for the top of the huge tree on the other side of the bank which catches the sunlight),

a mix of pthalo blue and indian yellow for the bottom of the tree, 


magenta mixed with ultramarine blue (I plan to change the colors of the flowers in the reference photos to go with this theme),

burnt sienna mixed with a tiny bit of violet (UB + magenta) for the bank ,

 ruby red,

 pthalo green for the water.

          After giving a strong warning to my son not to disturb me for 15 mins, I spray the whole paper with clean water, brush it in evenly with a large flat brush and as this is the last paper on this block, I stick the paper to the cardboard with gummed tape. The paper had already started to dry and I wet it again with the flat brush, also using a small round one to go around the edges of the flowers neatly. I do this for 5 to 6 times as the paper keeps drying out in places. When I have the sheet evenly wet, (the flowers are dry) I begin at the top of the sheet dropping in the blue with the flat brush. My son chooses this moment (I am sure, on purpose) to come and demand me to fix his toy. Yikes!! I freak out and holding him with one hand at arms length, manage to drop in the rest of the colors. After giving him some hard stares (which he shakes off quite easily, he just loves to see me irritated, the little rascal) and fixing his toy, I check the state of my painting. No streaks, thank god. I would have liked it if the phthalo green at the bottom was stronger. This would have been a great time, to start adding slightly deeper values which would blend softly as the paper is slowly drying; for the background trees etc. No chance of that on this paper. But I am satisfied with this. I leave it to dry.



              For the tree on the other bank, I use the sponge technique to add some texture with slightly stronger values. This is done on dry paper.

picture taken at night; shadow at the bottom


                      For this top bunch of leaves, I mix greens from the yellow and pthalo blue adding a bit of the violet. I also have a puddle of sap green of medium consistency for the small number of leaves catching the light. Its amazing that you can see the atmospheric perspective even in this single tree. The branches towards the top left are facing away from the viewer and hence the leaves on them are more blue-gray than the the leaves at the right bottom which are nearer to the viewer. So I added some more blue and red to my mixes.  

leaves at the top left


                     I work on the branches and leaves simultaneously, so that I know where to place groups of leaves. I also alternate between the full image and the zoomed in image windows on the screen, so that I can see the detail as well as get a sense of proportion of the whole. For the branches, I wet portions, drop in burnt sienna and add the violet on the undersides just as it loses its sheen. This is just the first layer, I have to darken them a bit more.

still on the left side


                     I wet the area of the background tree and add layers of pale mixes of ultramarine blue mixed with aeurolin yellow. Also sponge in the tree next to this one.

layers on the back ground tree


¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† The leaves towards the bottom are sap green and sap green mixed with ruby red for the darker values. There are a lot of tiny branches weaving in and around the leaves. Added some of them. The leaves on the right are in deep shadow and I used a lot of violet there mixed with a bit of yellow to grey it down. Lot of repetitive work here, I painted this listening to the songs of the Hindi version of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’. A.R Rehman always manages to make some thing new and different.

this photo has come out redder than the others

New Painting – Earthly Paradise


¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† We had been to this river bank recently, and as we sat and watched the river flowing¬†tranquilly , thousands of yellow chrysanthemum petals started flowing along with the waters. They were flowers with which puja had been performed in the temple way¬†upstream.¬†Looking at them reminded me¬†of a spiritual experience that I had had (a little more than a year back)¬†after coming out of the Sivalayam in the Kanaka Durga temple (it sits on top of a hill and is an important temple here).¬†I was gazing at this river in the same way and¬†the Sacred Fig tree¬†had spread out¬†its vast canopy under which I was standing. This tree, which¬†lives for hundreds of years¬†has a religious significance and is found near many temples. What I cannot convey in words, the¬†bliss that I had experienced that evening, and¬†along with it the assurance¬†of it coming into¬†this earthly¬†life is what I wish to convey through this painting…¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†

Sacred Fig tree


                These two snaps are of the opposite bank.  

the other bank

  the other bank


               I took a paper the same size as that of my watercolor sheet and fixed the main limbs and branches of the tree accurately. I then started placing humming birds and basically played around sketching flower shapes etc. to let my muse flow. 

rough sketch


¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† I then transferred the main lines on to the watercolor sheet and drew the morning glories, rhododendron onto the sheet directly, the fuschias were a temptation that I couldn’t resist adding to an otherwise complete composition. I don’t know if I will keep them. Hummingbirds’ feathers show beautiful metallic iridescence, i.e the colors change according to the angle from which they are viewed. They hover in the air by flapping their wings rapidly and can even fly backwards. They have long thin bills¬†and bifurcated tongues adapted to¬†feeding on¬†nectar from long tubular flowers. They like to drink from all¬†of these flowers that I mentioned but they¬†especially¬†like the¬†bright pink, red to¬†orange range of colors. They are found only in the Americas, not over here, but I did name this Paradise, didnt I?¬†



¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Photo Credits: Thanks Char for the reference of morning glories, Andy for the Fuschia. Rhododendron, Mary of has let me use her photos. For the ‘Othello Roses’ and ‘Pale blue Iris’ , I had taken refs¬†from her site and she had liked them and said she wanted to take print outs of the paintings and hang them on her office wall, and I said she could. ¬†

                         For the humming birds, thanks to the public domain images of DLS, and Deb, Aleks, Aries of