Saturday, August 27, 2011

Coneflowers--Wet-in-Wet and the Colors of White

Though it is late in the growing season, I had the urge to plant flowers this past week. It could have been because I ran across some of my favorite perennials that I couldn't find earlier in the season--coreopsis and coneflowers.
Besides the insects and birds that flowers attract, they are beautiful and fun to paint! Yesterday, I enjoyed an opportunity to sit near these garden additions and create coneflowers in my sketchbook using brush and paint without the detail of drawing. Coneflowers have a distinctive shape with daisy-like petals that loosely droop. How deeply the petals droop depends on the stage of the flower's maturity.  This characteristic makes them good subjects for loose painting.  By that, I mean watery painting with less concern about detail.
Besides planting purple coneflowers, I also planted a white coneflower variety.  The white in flowers is particularly fun to paint.  "White" in a watercolor painting is the lightest color/value in your painting.  Since white flower petals generally reflect the colors around them, they offer a fun opportunity to play with wet-in-wet painting, letting the colors blend on the paper and a brush stroke of clean water carry pale pigment into petal shapes.  I'll show you what I mean.
Below, you see how I created the watery flower images you see on the right hand side of the sketchbook at the top of this post.  If you would like to give this way of creating coneflowers a try, use one of the images above, or a flower from your own garden or collection of images as a guide.  If you already have experience with this type of painting, this exercise makes a fun and relaxing practice.

On dry paper, paint a coneflower head shape, as shown below.  I used WN Quinacridone gold.
Have two containers of water handy, one to rinse your brush between colors, the other to load your brush with clean water.  Brush clean water along the edge of the painted area and bring it down to form the shape of the flower head, as shown below.  Leaving white areas is one way to add interest and give the impression of light reflection. Learning how much water your brush holds and how much you need to use comes with practice.
While this area is still wet, drop in some cerulean blue (or another blue of your choice) along the bottom edge.
Rinse your brush and load it with clean water.  Touching the edge of the bottom of the cone shape, paint a petal shape with clear water coming down from the cone center. Pigment will flow into the water left by the brush stroke.  Tilt your paper if needed to aid this movement.
Continue to create petal shapes with brush strokes of water.  I enjoy the surprise of this technique and the richness of the color that is created when pigment is dropped into pigment.  The cerulean blue and quinacridone gold blend to create a nice green like the underlying color seen at the base of the yellow and orange blossoms of the coneflower head.
In the next study, I dropped in WN French ultramarine blue and a touch of Daniel Smith Alizarin Crimson along the bottom edge.  
Below, you see the variation that resulted.
Try a series of these studies and enjoy seeing a variety of interpretations of these lovely flowers.  Try adding a stem and a leaf.  And if you try this exercise and post your results on your blog, send me a link.  If you would like, I can post the link here.  If you don't have your own blog, and would like to share your results here, send an image to me at:  viclcsw (at) aol (dot) com.  Below, you see more of my studies.
I've used a scrap sheet of watercolor paper (with a rejected painting on the other side) and divided it with artist tape to create six separate painting areas for these studies.

Coneflowers are part of the aster (asteraceae) family, along with sunflowers and, like sunflowers, have a flower head with many tiny blossoms.  This is clearly one of my favorite flower families!

For an easy-to-print version of this demonstration, visit the same demo published on my website.
For more information on coneflowers visit Wiki's Coneflowers page.

11 comments:

  1. That is really beautiful, it caught my eye. I love looking at your watercolor sketches.

    ReplyDelete
  2. What a great idea how you paint these white coneflowers! Love the result! I'm going to try them too, but I am not sure I post them on my blog. I'll let you know if I do.

    ReplyDelete
  3. What fun, Vicki! I loved the demonstration. You make it look so simple. Thanks for sharing. I've done oils for many years, added acrylics, and now I'm a newbe at watercolor.

    ReplyDelete
  4. wonderful paintings Vicki and great demonstrations!!!! :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Vicki, I'm glad I saw your post, you did such a great job on demonstrating the technique, very easy for people to follow! I love doing step by step demos on my blog and I know it takes time. I also love messing around sometimes with wc and no drawing first, it can be rather exciting and scary! haha...if I try your demo I'll let you know.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi Vickie, I've done two sketches of your white cone flower. They are not really that good but I had some fun while I was doing them. Thanks for sharing your knowledge. If you want to check my sketches, my blog is http://coramendozapaints.blogspot.com.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Wonderful lesson on painting Coneflowers, Vickie!! They are one of my favorite flowers as well!! Your paintings are delightful!!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Can't wait to try this demo. I wish these were in a printable format so I could print off and take to my art desk. :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hi dibear,
    Try this link to the same tutorial on my website:
    http://vickiehenderson.com/WC_wetinwet.htm

    I think this version should print out okay for you. Hope you enjoy the practice.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hi Vickie! I loved your coneflower demo and just posted a painting I made following it on my blog http://www.ffyrebird.com/ffyrebird/2013/09/loose-coneflower.html Thank you for making this demo, it is wonderful!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thank you for sharing. I have a number of rough sketches in a notebook that I will now begin painting. I have been making bookmarks over the years for friends and my next project will be a purple cornflower.
    betsy shipley

    ReplyDelete

Welcome! I am glad to hear your comments, questions and feedback! Vickie

Ocean Trail at Rancho Palos Verdes Preserve, California--2015

Ocean Trail at Rancho Palos Verdes Preserve, California--2015

Joshua Tree National Forest, California, with son Chad and daughter Thuan--2015

Joshua Tree National Forest, California, with son Chad and daughter Thuan--2015
Photo credit: Thuan Tram

Bird banding with Mark Armstrong at Seven Islands State Birding Park - 2014

Bird banding with Mark Armstrong at Seven Islands State Birding Park - 2014
Photo courtesy of Jody Stone

Birds Close-up

Birds Close-up
Photo courtesy of Karen Wilkenson

Enjoying Gray Jays in Churchill, Manitoba

Enjoying Gray Jays in Churchill, Manitoba
Photo courtesy of Blue Sky Expeditions

A dog sled experience with Blue Sky Expeditions, Churchill, MB--2014

A dog sled experience with Blue Sky Expeditions, Churchill, MB--2014
Photo courtesy of Blue Sky Expeditions

Churchill, Manitoba--2014

Churchill, Manitoba--2014
Photo courtesy of Blue Sky

2014 Hummingbird Festival

2014 Hummingbird Festival
Photo courtesy of Jody Stone

Smithsonian National Zoo with one of my Whooping Crane art banners and son, John--2014

Smithsonian National Zoo with one of my Whooping Crane art banners and son, John--2014

Muir Woods on the Dipsea Trail at Stinson Beach, California--2014

Muir Woods on the Dipsea Trail at Stinson Beach, California--2014
Photo courtesy of Wendy Pitts Reeves

Checking out the gulls at Stinson Beach--2014

Checking out the gulls at Stinson Beach--2014
Photo courtesy of Wendy Pitts Reeves

Discovery Hike in Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska--2012

Discovery Hike in Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska--2012
Photo courtesy of Ruth Carter
Related Posts with Thumbnails