• PAPER Saunders Waterford rough 425gsm watercolour paper
• WATERCOLOUR Cobalt Blue, Cerulean Blue, Green,
Yellow Green, Perylene Green, Green Gold, Opera Pink, Transparent Pyrrole Orange, Translucent Yellow, Magenta and Burnt Sienna, various brands
• BRUSHES Round Chinese weasel hair brushes, various sizes; Pro Arte Series 9A Prolene Sword Liners, sizes small, medium and large
• DANIEL SMITH WATERCOLOUR STICKS, VARIOUS COLOURS
• DERWENT INKTENSE CRAYONS, VARIOUS COLOURS • DROPPER BOTTLE
• SPRAY BOTTLE
“These days I use mostly Chinese brushes, as they lack the spring of a sable or a synthetic brush, and they produce a lot of texture when dragged across a rough paper. They don’t cost an arm and a leg either, so I’m happy to abuse them somewhat, using them on their sides or flattening them into combs. I paint holding the brush quite far up the handle, as this allows for a more gestural approach and stops me becoming too fiddly or controlled. I hold pencils and watercolour sticks in the same way and more interesting marks emerge.”
1 START IN THE MIDDLE “With the flowers arranged in an old tin can, I began near the centre of the page with the intention of letting the painting blossom outwards. The purple geraniums were painted with a mix of Opera Pink and Cerulean Blue – the latter has a way of granulating and separating slightly that really appeals. While the paint was still wet, I added a translucent yellow for the buttercups.
2 LET COLOURS BLEED
“With the other paint still wet, I painted the orange hieraciums (with Transparent Pyrrole Orange), the docks (with Burnt Sienna and Transparent Pyrrole Orange) and the foliage behind the flowers (with Green, Cerulean Blue and Yellow Green), not worrying too much about the colours bleeding together. At this stage I was using the paint very wet and didn’t want too many crisp and defined edges.”
3 ADD VARIETY
“I dropped in more paint to deepen the tones and also small amounts of clear water from a dropper bottle into the already-painted areas to create a wider variety of tones. Adding water with the dropper bottle pushes paint away and creates the lighter areas, while also creating all those gorgeous textures, haloes, cauliflowers and deltas that are loved by contemporary watercolorist.
4 KEEP THINGS MOVING
“The tin was painted using a flat brush with a mix of Cerulean Blue and Burnt Sienna. The trick here is to keep the paint moving in the centre of an area of colour, while also keeping the edges dry. When the paint goes from wet to damp, it is far easier to control the colour bleed, and so I took the opportunity to paint the leaf that defined the left-hand side of the tin.
5 LOAD UP ON PAINT
“The docks on the left were just damp enough to drop in a richer mix of Burnt Sienna and Transparent Pyrrole Orange. I did this by loading my brush and touching it on the surface of the paper – no stroking or pushing around is necessary. When the paint dried, I used the sword liner brushes to draw in the flowers very impressionistically and add a bit of detail to the orange hieraciums.
6 DRAW INTO DAMP AREAS
“I painted the foliage with Green Gold and Green. I also used a Green Inktense crayon and a Green Gold Daniel Smith watercolour stick to draw into both the damp and dry areas and suggest the cow parsley seed heads. Used sparingly, sticks and crayons can make a nice counterpoint to the broadness of the watercolour washes and add another dimension to your painting.
7 BUILD AND SOFTEN
“Once the first stage had dried, I started to ‘find’ the negative shape of the geraniums and buttercups by adding deeper tones to the foliage behind. I used Green and Perylene Green for this with a little Cerulean Blue dropped in. I also use a little spray to soften the edges of one or two areas to keep the soft, impressionistic tone of the painting.
8 PICK OUT SHAPES
“Within the negative shapes of the foliage, I picked out a couple of sword-shaped leaves to contrast with the mostly rounded shapes of the main section of the painting. I used the Inktense crayons to draw in more of the spiky cow parsley seed heads.
9 TIME YOUR DROPS As different parts of the painting progressed from wet to just damp, I dropped in water and richer mixes of paint. It’s a game of patience and attention, as timing is important and the right moment easily missed. I defined the buttercups at the bottom of the arrangement by lightly painting foliage, dropping in more water and drawing with the sword liner brush.
10 BE UNDERSTATED I painted the centre of the geraniums with Cerulean Blue and Magenta. I lifted out a little paint from the areas that came out too strong and used Inktense crayons to draw veins on the petals. Despite this detail, the aim is to be understated – describing things too much leaves little for the viewer to do and somehow drains the painting of energy.
11 BREAK UP LARGER AREAS The dark foliage was created with a mix of Perylene Green and Green and, while it was still wet, I dropped in some Cerulean Blue. Dropping related colours into wet areas and allowing them to mix and separate on the paper adds a liveliness that is hard to achieve any other way. I also suggested the centres of the buttercups with a red crayon.
12 DEEPEN THE TONES I added deeper tones to the right-hand side with Perylene Green. I wanted this to be the darker side of the composition and to give a sense of the light coming from the left-hand side. The ribs of the tin can were painted with a rich mix of Cerulean Blue and Burnt Sienna, using firm strokes of the sword liner that I then sprayed a little and dropped in water.
13 FINISHING TOUCHES The heart of the rose was painted simply with Opera Rose and a little Transparent Pyrrole Orange dropped in to liven it up. Leaves and stalks were drawn with the sword liners and more detail was added to the dock on the left to define the geranium petals in front of them. I then add some finer marks with Green Gold and Burnt Sienna watercolour sticks.
Project by – Kate Osborne www.kateosborneart.com