Painting Flowers in Watercolor as a Meditation
I’m painting flowers in watercolor as a meditation this week. With my cell phone, I snapped a photo of dwarf Daisies in a hammered brass cup outside in the sun. Printing the image on plain printer paper in black and white helped to keep my focus on values.
Painting small (the watercolor is about 6×5 inches) makes it easier to sit anywhere in the house or yard to paint. All you need is a chair and a tote bag of art supplies. Making art is a salve. It is the compass at our helms, and the keel on our boats.
(Read Shari Blaukopf’s post about drawing from life to stay nimble, and away from the news.) Are you drawing or painting this week?
Painting Flowers in Watercolor Steps
Starting with a loose, simple pencil sketch on watercolor paper, I painted the background first. No hard lines; all wet into wet watercolor washes. You can do this too, with a lot of squinting to see and map the lightest and darkest patches. How soft are the transitions between the light, dark and mid-range values?
Paint Slowly, Squint a Lot
Using watercolor glazing techniques, I added layers of watercolor, one after another on the brass vase and the foliage, working around the flowers to preserve the white of the paper. The values are built layer by layer, slowly, letting them dry while working other areas of the painting in sections.
When I got to the white circles where the flowers were, I painted yellow ellipses in their centers as stamens first. A shadow was cast on most stamens (see photo below), so they were added loosely on top of the yellow with sap greens.
Painting little washes in the color of the sky around the petals was done here and there, but again, loosely. I didn’t paint each flower, or every stem. I trust that your eyes and your smart brain will fill in the missing details to understand that this is a loose, miniature watercolor painting of flowers.
Don’t Forget the Option to Lift
The last layers of watercolor were applied to the darkest shapes just above the rim of the vase. Painting with a variety of greens in flat layers on the foliage was easier than painting every stem. Keep in mind that after a solid passage of dark green pigments dry, you can lift watercolor with a clean, wet brush to ‘suggest’ stems.
Community + Sharing
If you paint the same image from the download of the reference photo above, tag me on social media so I can see your watercolor. Feel free to draw the image in graphite as a value study, or create the same image in colored pencil. Wherever you share it, let me know so I can see the beauty you create in this crazy week.
Thanks for the emails and comments on collage in the last post. The imaginative collages you’ve made (so far) just slay me. I loved every one of them! Please keep them coming! Thank you so much for sharing them with me, and for posting them on social media. The resourcefulness to collect materials for your ideas is inspiring. I especially loved searching the real estate images on Zillow to grab a photo of a beloved but sold grandparents home for use in a family photo collage. Good job, JR!
Checking in with Each Other
How are you doing? Are you able to make something creative this week? Have you been cooking, sewing, knitting, collaging? Will you tip-toe into sketching in pencil (check out these sketchpads), playing with watercolor, or adding pen and ink to old watercolors? Can you balance the consumption of news with tea and art books, or scrolling and note-taking on inspirational artist’s blogs?
Did you see this Stitch Challenge? Every Monday for the next five weeks, a different textile artist will deliver a burst of inspiration especially for you in the form of a short video workshop (free) and a hand stitch challenge that you can do at home over the following few days. So… if you can’t bring yourself to draw, maybe you can stitch?
Artists all over the internet are using social media during this sheltering in place time to share and connect. The internet is fluid with posts from musicians, actors, painters and authors, all using video capabilities on their phones to broadcast free content to the world. It’s quite remarkable – and poignant – to feel the generosity of the creative community out there. These folks are part of our tribe, you know?
- Mary Chapin Carpenter is broadcasting a series called Songs from Home – with her guitar and her dog Angus – live from her kitchen. Watch the second episode here.
- Painter Alpay Efe is sharing process videos and encouragement on his Instagram and YouTube accounts. This week’s demonstration of a woman in profile with a flower in her hair is wonderful.
- Landscape Painter John Poon has begun offering online painting workshops on color in landscape painting from his studio for $50. The next online workshop will be Saturday, March 28th. Sign up here.
- Figurative painter Robin Eley is hosting a Quarantine Workshop from his Instagram account. You can read more about it, and download the preparation documents here.
- The hashtag #togetherathome is being used to help folks find sheltering at home musicians and entertainers broadcasting from their creative spaces to yours. This page is harvesting some of them if you want to take a look.
Though still very far from being perfect girls, each was slowly learning, in her own way, one of the three lessons all are the better for knowing – that cheerfulness can change misfortune into love and friends; that in ordering one’s self aright one helps others to do the same; and that the power of finding beauty in the humblest things makes home happy and life lovely.Louisa May Alcott
The Thing About Time
I hope you paint, draw or carve something soon, my friend. I hope you’re sketching, making lists of ideas, and scribbling compositions on post it notes. Remember to pick up the phone to chat with art friends, and keep yourself connected to your tribe, and encouraged. We are all going through this together. Remember all those moments when we wished for more time? Try hard not to squander this gift. This crazy we’re in is free time. Scoop it up.
Thanks for visiting, and I’ll see you in the next post –
We must do our work for its own sake, not for fortune or attention or applause.Steven Pressfield