Saturday, March 30, 2013

Birth of a Watercolour - how I painted Blueberry Fizz

Last week I treated myself to a bunch of blue anemones.  I think they're my new favourite flowers with their velvety petals and amazing blue colour.  I set about trying out colours in quick sketches and discovered that W&N Smalt combined with cobalt violet were perfect, and the granulation of both pigments was beautiful.  

Blueberry Fizz - watercolour, 15" x 11"Not for sale

Starting with a simple drawing to guide me, I added some tiny spots of masking to reserve a few highlights and, once that was dry, wet the paper before dropping in colour.  Remember the pencil lines were only there to guide me, the wet paper allowed the pigment to spread and soften edges.

Then it was simply a case of building colour and form, working on individual petals by wetting then adding more pigment.

 Purple/blue flowers can easily look flat and lifeless, but my choice of pigments helped to keep things lively. I used some ultramarine and quin. magenta for darker areas on the petals, always being careful to allow textures to show through the washes.

 Now the detail in the centre, bringing in one more colour.  Indanthrene blue was perfect for the dark centre, and texture was added by sprinkling a little salt in the wet wash.

I had one more decision to make...... what about the stem?  The flower needed some form of support, but the yellow-green stem would have looked incongruous among the blues and violets.  I decided  to suggest a gently curved stem with a purple wash, hard edged on one side and fading out so there is no edge on the other side.  Done!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

I've been spending more time working from life recently, it's a challenge but I've found it easier to paint directly from life than drawing first.... I have more freedom with a paintbrush, pencils are too static and restrictive.

I bought a bunch of wonderful parrot tulips, they're amazing to paint!  All the frills and flounces would have taken me hours to draw accurately, so I dampened the paper and started adding colour, developing the curves and ruffles as I went.  I'm quite pleased with how it turned out!

Orange Parrots - ©Ruth S HarrisWatercolour, 15" x  11"

Monday, March 04, 2013

If in doubt, try a crop!

This was painted last month, around Valentine's Day, so of course it had to be called "Roses are Red".  I've been doing more work without drawing recently, it allows me to enjoy placing the brushstrokes without any boundaries.

I started this as a quarter sheet but the left side wasn't working, so it's now cropped to a 9.5" square and I like the modern feel that gives to the painting.

Roses are Red - 9.5" x 9.5", watercolour on paper ©Ruth S Harris

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Papery Poppies

I needed some red after all the yellow daffodils, so back to poppies!  When I started I intended to only paint a few poppies and leave the background white, but it evolved and turned into a small, square wildflower meadow with an out of focus background.  I'm really happy with how the poppies turned out, especially the focal poppy.  I think the secret of papery petals is lots of water and careful brushstrokes, keeping washes fluid and light.

©Ruth S Harris - Poppy Meadow - Watercolour, 7.25" x 7.5"