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.

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