Ode to Summer – revisited


¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† I just can`t get it out of my head¬†about this picture that it feels a tad dry without the cool blue of water in the fountain. I didn`t put it in before because I thought that blue wouldn`t sit well with the predominantly warm colors in the rest of the painting, but now seen again¬†from a fresh perspective, I feel it will work. So, I`ve put on a layer¬†with Faber Castell watercolor pencils, of helio turqoise (which is a green blue)¬†first, and on top of that, a layer of light phthalo blue. Watercolor pencils are transparent when wet, but opaque when worked-on¬†dry, so it has pretty much covered the grey tones in the underlayer. So….here it is.. ta da……..! ha…ha..! Do you like it better this way?

Ode to Summer - New

                      Ode to Summer

yellow roses and painting loose style‚Ķ


                 Shade colors for yellow objects are obtained in the same manner as for other colored objects, except   that you would need a very light value of the shade color, as yellow gets dirtied very easily. In flowers, they very often tend towards green because of the light reflected from leaves nearby. A light glaze (over a yellow area) of yellow`s complement, which is purple, will give a shade color that doesn`t tend towards either brown or green. Raw sienna looks like a good shadow color for yellow but I find it makes the area too dull.

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†Areas where the light hits the object directly (highlights), is not where you would find the most saturated color. The light washes the color out and they are just¬†pale tints of the local color. Some artists like to keep them pure white to keep that sparkle. Areas facing slightly away from the light source have the most saturated color. Here, the roses at the centre of the painting (which are directly in the sun)¬†look so beautiful and vivid with pure yellow half tones and white highlights…¬†¬†

yellow roses

yellow roses


                  These roses are the farthest away from the viewer and I`ve painted them in a loose style. While painting loose, the trick is to think in terms of shapes of the values rather than shapes of the individual elements. Have all your mixes ready and lay in a clear water wash, leaving areas where you want white highlights. Lay in the lightest wash, this can be of different colors. As the wash starts to dry, lay in stronger values. I think it helps to do it when one doesn`t have a lot of time and is rushed, because then you wont go into details! Think in terms of chunks of foliage areas Рlight, dark or mid tone?


                I`ve changed the pink roses to yellow-orange, kept the purple clematis though, they give a bit of contrast to the yellow roses. S translucent orange, red madder dark and cerulean blue tone mix gives a nice deep brown for the pots, I didn`t want the terracota orange here in the background.


            Here`s the completed painting. One of my concerns was in getting the yellow rose shrub to look like it was growing in a curved manner, its not on a straight plane behind the statues. I have achieved that by having less details for the roses as they go from right to left and ofcourse, they keep getting smaller and smaller. (but I have kept the higher chroma in the distance, they are glowing in the light and thats what attracted me to these rosese in the first place)



Back lighting


                 Objects lit up by back lighting can look very beautiful and dramatic at times  like here in this section of the painting. The leaves at the top are glowing as if with their own yellow light. Its a little different than how you would usually paint dense foliage; the leaves nearest to the viewer are in deep shadow whereas the leaves behind them are lit up. Really, its the light that creates the magic, as I`m sure you have heard before. You`re walking on the side walk on a dull, cloudy day, the trees look like green-gray lifeless forms; then suddenly the clouds part, revealing the sun`s face; the leaves start glowing fiercly and little shadows are dancing about everywhere and its like you`ve stepped into paradise!

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Here are some photos, I`m not writing about the painting process itself; you know the drill….. I will probably add more shadows and fine-tune¬†the values after I finish the rest of the painting. If you`re thinking yellow would be¬†somewhat distracting at the top edge of the painting, I`ll just say that I hope that the yellow roses towards the left¬†will form a downward path leading the eye towards the focal point.

rose garden

Work in progress ‚Äď Rose garden


                  I`ve just started doing the foreground roses. Some of them are in deep shadow, especially the one at the extreme right, so I`ve put in an orange wash for them (with some yellow at the centres). Even though we would expect shadow areas to be cooler, here the ones in the sunlight are reflecting the blue light from the sky and they look cooler (i.e. pinker) than the ones in shadow.


                  Strengthened the base colors here:


                   Put in krapprot tief (red madder dark) for the roses in shadow. This color, looks quite bright when it is wet but becomes dull when it has dried, perfect when you need warm, red shadows. The previous layers of bright orange lend luminosity to the roses even after the shadow color has been applied and they don`t look dead.


                    Started giving form to the individual petals here:


                     I`ve also used S cerulean blue tone for the shadows in the sunlit roses.

Background foliage painting techniques


                  I think its worth taking as much time to master background techniques as you would take for learning foreground techniques. The background should subtly enhance the foreground without overpowering it.   


           The photos below are crops, I`ve put some numbers on them to mark the places:

1. After you have finished painting the foreground leaves and flowers, quickly mark some interesting shapes and patterns that the leaves behind make with a pencil. You don`t have to draw all of them. Now take a very dark value of green and starting painting the area around these shapes (your mix should have enough water that it flows well from the brush) Once this dark value is established, its amazing how easy it becomes to put in the values for the middle layers. You can push the leaves backward or forward to any plane.

2. See how if you put in the background color and value on the top (or to the side) of the leaves, it gives the appearance of them emerging from the shadows. These leaves form the connecting layer between planes. This is important, not all leaves are facing directly towards the viewer.

3. You can also leave out small white shapes in the dark value. After the bg has completely dried out, you can brush in a very light yellow green or green to give the impression of small flickers of light that have managed to penetrate the shadows.

4. Another trick is to simply lift out color with a damp brush leaving behind soft-edged leave shapes.


             Photo Below:  Its important to put in shadow areas on veins and stems too. Compare leaf 1 to the same leaf in the first photos. Here I`ve put in a shadow color on the top and bottom part of the vein. The highlight is only in the middle area and that is where it is the brightest yellow-green. The same goes for leaf 2. The middle portion of the vein is almost white just as the rest of the leaf in that area.

          For the stems and branches, don`t automatically reach out for the burnt sienna. You can get a wide range of green-browns, reddish browns and violet browns with the colors already used to make the branches look more interesting. Also you can take a little artistic licence and exaggerrate the colors whenever possible. In the reference photo, apart from the red of the roses, its largely a mass of uninterrupted green. I`ve used yellow brown and violets and reds for accents to make the area a whole lot more interesting.

the background leaves..


             Here is a photo of the rest of the foreground leaves. They look very light but this will help in pushing them forward from the background plane. I`ve also started on a couple of veins for the main fg leaves. A fine dark line on one side will make the central vein look more prominent. For the rest of the veins I`ve used DS chinese white tinted with a yellow green.


                  Here I`ve done the bunch of leaves on the right side, they are somewhere in the middle layer; in shadow , so of a dark value. Done wet on dry, with few details like central veins here and there and a couple of shadows to establish some form for a few of them. 


             Started with a few of the background leaves..


                I`ve put in a very dark value in between the background leaves that I had painted (photo above), so this forms another plane. I`ve given the wall behind the foliage a rose-grey tinge instead of a neutral grey. Red is the complement of green and using this contrast makes both the colors (green in the leaves and red in the wall) appear more vivid than in any another combination.


                   Here (the portion to the right of the wing and above the larger rose), I`ve used another method; I took a dark value and put in that first, leaving white shapes for the leaves by negative painting.  Now I can either bring in the dark value of the bg into the white areas with a damp brush or use other colors (using other colors can be a bit tricky, you have to make sure that they are subdued enough so they don`t jump forward into the fg plane). You can also gently lay in a clear water wash over the bg leaves and drop in darker values (like I did on the right side of the buds). Whatever method you use, the aim is to create the illusion of foliage growing in multiple planes, one behind the other. Every area need not be perfectly understandable to the eye, that is not how you would see it in nature. Bits of information here and there lets the viewer construct reality but also give room for imagination.  


¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† If you would like to follow along, here are my references….. The roses looked so beautiful that I just took pictures from every angle so now I have been able to construct this scene, but still I had missed a spot …….ha haaaaaaaa and I don`t have information for an area (top part, above photo) guess I`ll have to improvise..

red roses and rose leaves..


               I have started painting the roses in the foreground in the somewhat loose style as they are not the main focus here in this painting. In the first wash, I dropped in S ruby red(cool) and WN winsor red(warm). 


                 In these second washes, I`ve left the areas or petals having the lightest value (from the first wash) alone and strengthened the  remaining areas.


                   Here, I`ve put in shadows with S madder red dark and also with a mix of  ruby red with S cerulean blue tone.


              This rose is nearest to the viewer and has more of details to it than the others. I used some S translucent orange too, for the sunlit petals.


                    The first washes for the leaves contain DS hansa yellow medium, S cerulean blue tone and a bit of the reds. Mix three puddles Рyellow green, green and blue green and also puddles of the primary colors. Now you can add any of the primaries to any of your three green mixes to get the exact tone or shade of green that you need in each area. You need to add the red too to these particular green mixes to tone them down; if they were new, young leaves they would have those bright colors but not here. I`ve left a fine white line for the main veins. 


                 I`ve layed in stronger colors and also started with shadows. The shadows make a beautiful pattern here on the leaves, its a good idea to draw them in first. Shadows too have colors, they are not grey but they should always be duller than the sunlit areas. Add more of the reds for them but not so much that they dominate the greens and start looking grey. 


               Strengthened the shadows a bit more with the same colors.

the angels..


¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Here are my little angels all done…. I`ve let the water area be for now, I want to add some greens and rose petals instead of the muddy water in the pic. This is going to be a challenging painting to do…. the foreground area has cool tones whereas the background has warm colors in the roses. By having¬†this strong contrast and details in the foreground, I`m hoping to push this layer to the front. Making the yellow in the roses duller would¬†push them further away……… but I really don`t want to do that….what are flowers without their colors?


         The hair locks and cheek area (left angel) have their shadows strengthened. Dark values for eyebrows and lips.


                 The right angel has its entire face in shadow, this pale wash will be the color for the highlights. 


                 The mouth of the pot at the  right will be in shadow. The top of the wing will also be in shadow because it forms a hollow shape. Started defining shadows in the rocks at the base. 


                  The stone structure behind the bottom most pot will have a very dark value as this area has to be pushed back. The inside of the pot at the right also has a very dark value. Added cast shadows.

Ode to Summer – Rose garden


¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Come summer and every¬† shrub, plant and tree seems to be blooming (wish this season would never end) but roses attract our attention almost exclusively….. so after two weeks of¬†composition and drawing, I`ve my very own rose garden to paint. I`ve also included these adorable looking¬†angel statues; the roses are from several other photos carefully woven together and around the statues so that¬†they look like this place actually exists. The foreground roses grow along a wall perpendicular to the plane of the statues, then turn around perpendicular again so that there is another plane behind the statues (bg) along which grow roses again¬†and purple clematis.

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Its really worthwhile taking the time to get the drawing accurate so that you save a headache later on while painting, a little bit off on the faces and the effect of the painting can well be ruined. I`ve started painting the angels and they have been a lot of fun, its on CP paper, and it takes washes well, I wanted a bit of tooth so that I get some texture for the stone. … These angels… Can you guess their age? (a special angel age?) Their control of body movements suggest to way older than toodlers but they look more like babies. Babies have heads that are large in proportion to their bodies (their eyes too¬†appear huge in their faces(because of their¬†large eyeballs), maybe to¬†make their “Oh! wont you please pick me up”¬†look, work¬†better!), these proportions are¬†sometimes used in paintings and sculptures of little¬†children to make them look more pleasing to the eye.

           In this base wash, I`ve put in a very pale wash of Hansa yellow medium over the entire structure, except where the water is going to be. Its a nice sunny day and I want the sunlit areas to be warm.


¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†I`ve started putting in the ¬†first washes here¬†with a mix of DS hansa yellow medium, MB rose lake and S cobalt blue tone (this has some sedimentary properties). Pushing the mix to a violet-grey or a blue-grey instead of a complete grey ensures that they don`t end up looking too drab.For the chest area (left hand statue), make a clear water wash extending to the shoulder but not in the arm region (so that a hard edge forms there), drop in light shadows (the light falls from the right hand side). In watercolor, you always paint from light to dark, but sometimes I like to put in some¬†shadows (like in the wing) because it makes it easier to see what middle values are missing. How beautifully the statues emerge from the stone that is at the base…. Soft edges behind the leg region sets the thigh¬†apart from the rest of the stone. The right hand angel is mostly in shadow, the stomach protrudes, so a highlight there…..


                  Stronger shadows in the wing, shadows beneath the locks of hair. The back of the head is in shadow. 


               Shadow at the left hand side of the face.., the shape of this shadow is very important. It defines the features. The cheekbone catches the light, the eye socket is in shadow. Keep limbs nice and rounded. Wet in wet washes give the appearance of smooth stone like marble but you can try wet on dry (maybe a bit of salt) for a grainier texture.