Sunflower Demonstration Part 2


This is often the hardest part of the painting to step back into. The initial wash is dry. Some areas look lovely and soft and swirly, and some look so exciting that you don't want to mess with them...they're just perfect the way they are. But at this stage the painting has no form.

What is required is to look at the different effects that have been made in the earlier wash, and enhance or highlight these areas while bringing up the shapes and forms of the flower.

I start working on the texture of the yellow petals with cadmium yellow and cadmium orange. What I'm aiming to do is add substance while outlining some of the petals. The underlying watercolour crayon will have added some texture already. I added permanent rose and perelyne maroon to the gaps between the petals and I let the paint run, sometimes tilting the board to add the effect of gravity. I started painting darker areas behind the leaves too, so the first wash shows up as a highlight. I also dropped some splashes of ultramarine blue on the pale leaf shapes and forced the blobs to run by blowing them with a straw. This is great for getting spontaneous lines which look like the veins on the leaves. In the background darks I spattered and sprayed with both paint and alcohol to give a mottled texture. One thing I like to do is to add many layers of paint. With watercolour you can be quite bold and add as many layers as you like, so long as you wait for each layer to dry and use a good quality translucent paint with good quality paper. (Remember not to add white as this will muddy the effects).

This part of the painting establishes the basic shapes. The overlay can look a bit awkward and rough until I wait for this second layer of paint to dry and I can start to merge the first layer with the second by softly smudging the hard edges of the second wash. This, I think, is where the experience comes in and it can often take quite a bit of time to go over each area. I will take my time doing this and pick out highlights with an old brush which is first made wet with clean water, blotted on a painting cloth, and then used to softly scrub some of the paint off to reveal a lighter underpainting. I wash the brush frequently with clean water to keep the layers fresh. When I'm happy that the petals look soft, and the shapes blend well and fit together as part of a whole, I move onto the next stage.