Tuesday, May 29, 2012

WATERCOLOR WORKSHOP: Painting White Flowers with Patterned Background

In this watercolor painting project, we'll be starting with a wet-in-wet MINGLING, doing some NEGATIVE painting, and LIFTING a pattern in the background.

You will see how much COLOR you can have in your white flowers and how to make sure your patterned background STAYS in the background.

You can purchase a pdf tutorial of this project, for $6, HERE.

For this painting, I used 7 pigments -- Aureolin Yellow, Quinacridone Rose, Cobalt Blue, Quinacridone Magenta, French Ultramarine, Permanent Sap Green, and Quinacridone Burnt Orange.

Begin the painting with a wet-in-wet mingling on stretched watercolor paper, using yellow, rose, and cobalt blue.  Wet the paper with clear water -- then, leaving a little white off to one side, paint a ring of yellow, then the rose, then blue.  Drop in a little yellow, rose, and blue on the left side of the paper, too. . . 

After this underpainting is completely dry, draw a large lily, right of center.  Take 2 or 3 of the petals off the paper.  Then, draw two stems, a bud, and a few leaves. . . 

Paint the bud, stem, leaves, and tops of the stamens with a yellow wash; and, let it dry . . . 

Mix up a very light blue wash (using Cobalt Blue), and paint only the negative space with this blue.  Don't wet the paper first -- paint the blue wash onto dry paper . . . 

When that is totally dry, draw two more lilies with their stems and a few more leaves.  Once again, take these flowers off the edges, so you break up the negative space into interesting shapes . . . 

Now, mix a blue-violet wash, using the French Ultramarine, and the Magenta.  Make sure there is plenty of water, and that it is more blue than purple.  Paint only the negative shapes with this wash, onto dry paper . . . 

After the background is dry, we will "lift" out a pattern in the background.  We are lifting out instead of "masking" the lines, because we want the pattern to be subtle so that it stays in the background.  If we were to use masking, the patterned lines would be too definite, so they would come forward in space, competing with the flowers.

Using a damp brush with a good point, draw a spiral with your brush . . . 

 Then, blot it with a paper towel . . . 

Repeat this process until you can see the spiral. . . 

Move around the background, lifting spirals -- until the entire background is covered with this spiral pattern . . . No need to draw this first with a pencil, and don't worry if your spirals aren't perfect -- it's actually better if they're not.

Now, start painting the stems and the tops of the stamens with a mix of Burnt Orange and Magenta.  Paint a green wash on the bud, the leaves, and the stamens and pistil -- using a mixture of Cobalt Blue and Aureolin Yellow . . .

Continue painting the stems and the tops of the stamens, using a darker mixture of Burnt Orange/Magenta, with a little French Ultramarine added.  Paint a darker value on parts of the leaves and the bud, using Sap Green -- and adding a little magenta to the bud and a little blue to the leaves. . . 

Create some dimension and form to the petals, by painting a light Cobalt Blue to some areas, and by dropping in some magenta to the underside of the petals.  Darken some areas of the flowers, as necessary . . . 

If you'd rather have a pdf version of this tutorial, you can CLICK HERE.  
For $6, you will get an instant download of this step-by-step tutorial, plus an introduction containing "Ten Things to Know About the Color BLUE".

For more on  

see http://thepaintedprism.blogspot.com/2012/02/wednesday-workshop-stretching-paper.html

see http://thepaintedprism.blogspot.com/2012/05/watercolor-workshop-negative-painting.html

see http://thepaintedprism.blogspot.com/2012/04/top-ten-tuesday-10-techniques-every.html  


  1. This is beautiful. I love using watercolors and have been working with them for a while trying different techniques. I am glad I "liked" the Lake Region Arts Council on Facebook! Thanks.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Tiffany! Hope you visit the blog again and try some of the other projects.

  2. I have just finished viewing this wonderful blog. My friends and I, in a small local art group, live in Northern NSW Australia and we spend our time trying to learn new techniques in most mediums, but I have been enjoying watercolour, especially negative painting of flowers and I find your blog most impressive. I will definitely visit it again and learn more. Sylvia

  3. Thanks, Sylvia, for visiting my blog and for your thoughtful comments! It's great that you and your friends try out new techniques in various mediums, although that can get kind of expensive, right? Glad you're now enjoying watercolor. I will be posting more tutorials in the new year -- and, of course that will include more flowers and negative painting projects! Hope to "see" you here again.

  4. Hi again Pat, you have so much good information. I have been stumped on dark backgrounds, and you give some good simple methods. While looking to see how you did those swirls, I was looking over the entire painting. I observed that you started with a variegated wash leaving white in one area. Then at the very end , did you go ahead and put a little blue over that white, or did you leave it the stark white. I like preserving some white, but maybe that would be just too bright and look like weird edge or something. Thanks for your tutorial projects. I just went over the trees too. I like your formula for adding colors . I just bought a whole book on trees, and your information was easier and faster for a good result. By the way, all your students had beautiful irises...love marcia in modesto

  5. A fascinating post to read on love your work and will hope to see more tips and tricks on paint by numbers dogs so thanks a lot for your help.

  6. Superb information and paint by numbers dogs is a great hobby for kids to enjoy and learn with ease. Keep up the good work

  7. There are many online stores that sell custom painting kits, but it can be hard to know which one is the best. To help you find the best kit for your needs, we’ve put together a list of the best paint by number kits available.