Prepping to Paint Still Life in Watercolor
This post has a series of tips and resource links to help you with preparations and planning on your floral watercolor paintings. (Here are some examples [below] of floral still life set ups for watercolor snapped with my cell phone. You can use these to paint from if you want.)
Painting Flowers in Watercolor
Here are steps to use your phone’s camera to seek out still life arrangements around your house. After you’ve snapped a dozen or more images, look at them in the view finder of your phone, or as a thumbnail on your computer. Choose the image that reads best in a tiny format (good composition is easier to identify in a thumbnail), and paint that image larger on a watercolor block.
If you’re interested in using the grid method to draw your reference photo on watercolor paper, this post – and the accompanying video – will help you with the step-by-step instructions to use a simplified grid system get a more accurate still life drawing under your watercolors.
Different still life scenes benefit from particular watercolor painting methods. In this post, survey five different watercolor painting tips to use on all or just parts of your watercolor floral still life painting. Read on….
Planning Your Watercolors
Do you draw with light pencil before you start a floral watercolor painting? A soft pencil road map helps to guide my brushes in watercolors, and that under-drawing softens the road-bumps of decision-making my artist brain has to climb over. Instead of trying to duplicate the shape of a petal with a brush of wet pigment while gazing at my reference still life, the shape is already mapped in washable pencil. (Do you use washable graphite? It dissolves when you touch it with a wet brush.) That frees me to think about color mixing and mark making. Wet into wet? Dry brush? Gradient values? Glazed layers of color? So many other choices!
Making Your Own Still Life Set Up
Setting up a small still life near a window during the brightest part of the day (like the scene above) is an excellent way to fill your art-reference coffers. Here are a couple of posts to help you get started with that:
- Figuring out what to paint can be a huge obstacle to your creative output. I encourage you to create your own still life set ups – and snap photos of them with your cell phone or a digital camera. Follow these still life arrangement set up guidelines – which were written for linocut prints, but are exactly the same for watercolor paintings.
- If getting set up to make a painting, or choosing a subject, or selecting a color palette makes you feel overwhelmed, I urge you to start by working on small painting studies. Painting small as a beginner is chock full of excellent lessons, so I listed eleven of them for you
- This post is about going through your existing family photos, and assembling two or three photos in a composite to create an imagined scene or narrative that will inspire a brand new watercolor painting.
Try Not to Reinvent the Wheel
Generations of artists before us have halted painting long enough to document – in text – their approaches to floral watercolor paintings. If the subject is compelling, but also intimidating to you, reach for help in the form of a book.
Watercolor is known as a challenging medium. I’m always a bit gob-smacked when beginners try to figure it out with no help. I think I would have tossed my brushes by the third painting if I didn’t have guidance and tips in my watercolor painting journey.
Really, there’s no need to torture yourself with watercolor painting skill-building in isolation. #artjail Art-making is supposed to be fun! Watch youtube tutorials, join watercolor groups on Facebook, and collect books for your art reference library.
Here are some great books on floral watercolor painting:
Be Wise About Your Artistic Journey
Be a good steward of your own creative process. Pay close attention to what you tell yourself while making art. If you want to stretch your skills to paint better floral watercolors, put a plan together. Don’t just wing it.
Shore yourself up. Dig deep to find out what helps you learn the best way. Be deliberate while moving obstacles from your path to get to your art supplies more frequently.
And be selfish with your art-making. No one will follow you around to make sure you get some painting time in this week. You are the only one who can insist on that, so be firm in your convictions to make more art, more often.
Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll see you in the next post –
Each drawing and painting is an experiment and a mirror reflecting our perceptions of reality. Unfortunately, we rarely paint what we see. We paint an unconscious projection of incorrect ideas – what we think we see. The more we study visual appearances, the more our awareness and understanding of light and form will grow, and the better equipped we’ll be to draw and paint the world around us according to its inherent wisdom, nobility and beauty.