Sunday, February 23, 2014

More floral cards

Once I got started sketching, I ended up with four 5" x 7" florals to do as watercolors cards.  They are clockwise from top left: Blue Flag Iris, Eastern Purple Coneflower, Cherokee Rose, and Swamp Sunflower.

Each of the sketched flowers is different color, and so the palettes for each painting were adjusted to provide the correct mix of colors.  I used Lemon Yellow, Phthalocyanine Blue, Quinacridone Rose and a touch of Quinacridone Gold for the Iris.  The Eastern Coneflower included Quinacridone Rose, Cadmium Yellow, Lemon Yellow, Phthalocyanine Blue and Phthalocyanine Green.  Lemon Yellow, Phthalocyanine Blue, and Quinacridone Gold was used for the Cherokee Rose.  The Swamp sunflowers required a mix of Chrome Yellow, Aureolin Yellow, Quinacridone Gold, Burnt Siena, Raw Umber, Cadmium Red and Cobalt Blue.

The fourth card is of a Swamp Sunflower.  I had previously painted a version of the flower, and used the photo, sketches and finished watercolor as resources for the card.  For this version I zoomed in on the flower, letting it fill 3/4 of the card's space.  Swamp Sunflowers, like the previously painted Eastern Coneflower, are composite flowers.  I love the small red disk floret surrounded by the bright yellow ray florets.  It was why I had taken the original photograph.  

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Coneflower card

Instead of a single Eastern Coneflower I sketched a group of these flowers.  The way they are leaning toward the sun as their petals bend backwards makes them seem very dynamic.  Coneflowers are composite flowers.  Each 'flower' is a collective of many tiny flowers that together resemble a single flower.  The tiny flowers around the edge are called 'ray florets' and form large fused petals.  The central disk contains numerous tiny 'disk florets' that radiate out from the center of the disk.  Each composite flower is at the end of a long stalk, sitting well above the leaves of the plant.

From my watercolor sketches I learned two important things:
  1. My initial background choice of Cadmium Yellow and Ultramarine Blue (left most closeup) just didn't work as well with the Quinacridone Rose as I had expected.  I tried a mix of Phthalocyanine Green and Phthalocyanine Blue (right most closeup) turned out to be a better foil for the rose color, but a bit too blue for the whole background.  
  2. It was difficult painting an even background around the intricate flower shapes.  Masking the flowers would allow me to create a more uniform background.
I applied masking to the flowers and upper stems.  After adding water to the surface of the card, I added  Phthalocyanine Blue to the top of the card, Phthalocyanine Green to the bottom of the card, and streaks of Cadmium Yellow to the middle part of the card.  Then let the pigments mix.  Once that dried a added a second wash to darken the bottom of the card and added more streaks of Cadmium Yellow.

Once the background was dry, I removed the masking and painted the flowers wet-in-wet.  The wetness let the Quinacridone Rose ran down the petals creating a pattern similar to what the flowers have.  I used a mixture of Quinacridone Rose and Cadmium Yellow for the flower's disk, with spots of Lemon Yellow.  The very center is a yellow-green made from a mixture of Lemon Yellow and Phthalocyanine Blue.