Spring 2016 Watercolor Class: Project – 3 Poppies
I will be working on a half sheet of water color paper so my painting is long. The sketch I provided is twice as long as it is tall (6 x 12”) however, you can use a standard size paper if you want. I will have to cut mine down if I frame it, the extra paper will not hurt anything.
Have your sketch on your paper before you start. With watercolor you need to know where you are going – usually – so having a good sketch or drawing on your paper will act as a road map to your painting.
Before you begin, have ALL your colors out. Do not put out just what you think you will need because if it isn’t there, chances are you will not stop to put out other colors and your painting will look flat and monochromatic, it does not hurt watercolor to dry out so you will not be wasting paint.
Also, have everything else ready before you start painting because we will be working quickly on this first stage. We will be using plastic wrap for this background so have several pieces ready and wrinkle them up in little balls before you use them, we need those wrinkles.
The first thing I did was with my ¾” angled brush - you can use a large flat sable or rand brush – I quickly wet the top corner of my paper going around the poppies. I do not want the poppies to get wet, you can mask them off if you feel the need, however, these are large enough areas you should be able to paint around them.
I just painted maybe the top quarter of the paper with the water so I can work into it while it is still wet, work in sections as you go across the top of the paper then down.
Into this wet paper I added a strong mix or ultramarine blue and touches of purple (be careful with the purple, it is a very strong color), you want a strong color at this point so you do not have to go back and repaint the area. Near the top of the bottom poppy and touches of sap or Hooker’s green and yellow. This should still be very wet.
Take a wrinkled piece of plastic wrap and squish it down into that wet paint. You want wrinkles in the plastic wrap but press it down so that it makes contact with the paper. Move on to the next section and repeat the process.
The bottom 2/3s of the painting will be mostly your greens but also add blue, sienna even touches of purple, the closer you get to the bottom of the paper. While the green is still very wet you can drop – and I do mean that literally – some orange into the green before you put on the plastic wrap.
When you have all of the background painted and covered, you will have to let your paper dry completely. This will take longer than usual because of the plastic wrap but if you set it out in the sun for about 15 minutes it should be dry enough for you to take the plastic wrap off. You can use this again and again so don’t throw it away.
A word of caution when using the plastic wrap: If you remove the plastic too soon and the paper is still very wet, you will lose the unique patterns that are left by the plastic so be patient. It is better to wait a bit longer than to watch all your hard work fade to nothing. Been there, done that and I knew better. If you have doubts, lift a corner and feel with the back of your hand if it is cool or wet, put the plastic back down and go get a cup of coffee, check your email, just leave it alone.
Watercolor dries lighter so if areas such as the green bushes behind the poppies isn’t dark enough you can add another layer of color, the trick to not ruining the pattern left by the plastic is to work quickly an do not keep going over the area while it is wet. Be sure that the paper is totally dry before adding another wash of color, as well.
I added some darker greens to the lower sections of my paper behind the poppies because you need to have dark to show the light and my background just wasn’t dark enough in my opinion so I added some more color. The pattern is softened a bit but is still visible looking like leaves and twigs. I did nothing to the blue, I liked the way it turned out.
I also under painted the poppies with a mix of cad. yellow light with just a tiny touch of orange, painting all of the flowers and the stems in this color. This is as far as I got in class I do hope everyone can get their paintings to this point by next class.