Sunday, January 19, 2014

Painting a white flower with water droplets

I found painting the white Cherokee Rose particularly challenging.  The flower itself is very simple, five flat white petals surround a central ring of yellow stamens with yellow to brown anthers.  The simple beauty of the flower hid the challenges of painting it: delicate soft shadows, busy background, and several small water droplets.  Making a draft painting helped me find my way through these challenges.

As with the Iris I chose to crop the background close, letting some of the petals continue off the page.  The shadows that define the shape of the petals is very subtle and had a hint of green, which didn't translate well in the watercolor sketch.  Two of the five petals of the draft painting have yellow-green added to their shadows.  I used several light glazes on the petals, which over darkened the shadows.  The background was painted last, some areas show more definition then other areas and distract from the flower.

I used a three color palette of Lemon Yellow, Quinacridone Gold and Phthalocyanine Blue (upper color swatches).  To achieve the shadows I added a small amount of a color mix I learned about in Margaret Walsh Best's class.  Small amounts of this purplish mix can be added to any color to create nice shadows (lower mixed colors).
The other challenge were the water droplets on the petals.  Creating realistic water droplets can be difficult.  The white highlight and dark shadow need to match the direction light is coming from.  The darkest part is just below the water droplet.  The next darkest part is along the top of the droplet above the white highlight that marks the location where the light is reflecting back off of the droplet.  Using a wet mid-range value I painted a crescent.  Then I carefully pulled the paint around the white highlight allowing the color to fade towards the bottom of the droplet.  The dark line along the bottom of the droplet is pulled to forming a shadow.  Finally the top of the droplet and the bottom of the droplet are darkened to give it a three dimensional appearance.  Water droplets come in many shapes, and can have more then one highlight.

For the final painting I started with a wet-in-wet background, with less definition.  The center of the flower was painted next.  Then each petal was painted using the wet-in-wet technique to let the shadows blend evenly.  The water droplets were added to the petals after they were dry.  Finally the shadows were touched up to match the water droplets.  

No comments:

Post a Comment