PRELIMINARY STAGE

This Sunflower painting is done on Langton Watercolour paper, size 20" x 16 ". I stretched the paper onto a board to avoid buckling. I always do this as I like to use a lot of water.

I drew the basic shape of the sunflower with Faber Castell watercolour sticks. These are basically pigments in a stick, that dissolve on contact with water. When drawing it is important to remember to keep the lines flowing. Stand up to do this, and use the arm from the shoulder to avoid getting a cramped up little drawing that you keep having to erase. It is daunting when faced with the bare white of the paper, but if you put on some music, and do some practice runs with a sheet of inexpensive paper (or newspaper) you can get the flow going. Remember, these watercolour crayons will disolve when you put the first washes down, so any lines made are infinitely mobile and always forgiving :-)

STEP ONE

The first wash!

This can be a bit daunting, but there's no escaping the fact that I just have to get in there and go for it. I use a no 18 brush, with full loads of colour. I apply the colour directly to dry paper. This keeps the intensity. I will be applying water directly beside areas of full colour, so the paint will run and give interesting effects. I will also be creating areas, that when sprayed lightly with water or alcohol, will give an interesting texture. If you put a wash on wet paper then the whole thing will fade out and look insipid. I have used the smallest amount of underspray on the top-left-hand corner of the painting where the spiky leaves will be as this is the lightest area of the painting, so I want the effect to be soft and broken. (I will show a close up of these techniques in the follow up).

I started with the yellows first (see earlier blog entry for the list of colours), alternating between light and dark yellow with a touch of orange added in. I left some very light areas for highlights on the petals but didn't get too fussy as I will be lifting out more light areas when this first stage is dry. I suggested leaves with blues and greens in the lower right of the painting. I added a big dash of pink (permanent rose) for no other reason than I really wanted to see pink next to the orange. I just love these two colours together and they remind me very much of my Indian days.

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