Washing a flower

Washing a flower

I have been practicing washes in watercolor. I drew a generic flower freehand, so I didn’t have to be concerned with things like anatomical correctness, likeness or too much perspective. The idea was to make two or three washes of different hues meet with a smooth transition at a line or curve of my choosing. Each petal as an individual pool of washes.

I couldn’t do it. My washes were all over the place. I can do a single wash and control it enough for it to end where and how I want. Then when it is dry I can put a second wash of a different hue over it or next to it and control it enough to do the transition. But not two wet washes simultaneously. More practice is needed.

My painting teacher liked this little watercolor, a dear heart that she is, and encouraged me to finish it. I am glad I did because in the process I learned how to deepen my hues with Sepia. Here it is. I am off to practice more washes.

7” x 9” (18 x 24 cm) watercolor on paper


16 thoughts on “Washing a flower

  1. Alex,this is so colorful. I like how the different colors work well with one another. If it makes you feel any better I can’t make a line of my own choosing that wet washes obey. I can wet areas individually and swim washes of pigment into them. I can control the amount of water I give them to do it in and permission to do what I know they do best and sit back and applaud the beauty of what is happening on the paper. When I looked at Geb and this watercolor above and some of the other art you have done, I begin to wonder if you are a true budding realist. You have a gift. It is evident that you are comfortable with control. I strongly advise for you to look into a watercolorist by the name of James Toogood. I think he will inspire you.

    • Thank you, Leslie! I hear you – let the washes do their magic, sit back and enjoy! I am a control freak, I have to loosen up a little. I Googled James Toogood, and it seems he doesn’t have a website – amazing(!) these days! But I saw a few his landscapes here and there, and now have an idea of his work. Will look for his book in a library. Have you seen Ali Cavanaugh’s watercolors? It is close to what I want to be able to do some day.

      • Yes, Alex. I saw her work featured in a magazine, “Art Calendar”, that I subscribe to. That is where I see you heading. James Toogood’s book has a step by step approach to some landscapes as well as portraits and is titled “Incredible Light and Texture in watercolor”. I believe you will bond with his approach.

    • Jana, you are an inspiration, both with your work and with your work ethic. Thank you for the comment. Glad you liked the new template. Now the question is – can my parents read white on black. That will be a deciding factor on whether to keep it or not.

    • Thank you, Carol!

      Here’s what Daniel Smith says about Sepia:
      Low staining and lightfast, this transparent black-brown is a palette basic. From its rich, deep state in concentrated strokes, Sepia can dilute to a subtle mushroom hue. Enjoy this transition in washes from near to far or from shadow to light in plowed fields and farm subjects.
      * ASTM Lightfastness Rating: Excellent
      * Transparency: Transparent
      * Granulating: Yes
      * Staining: Low

      DS Sepia watercolor

      I was struggling to make my background saturated and dark. My teacher gave me a dollop of her sepia and showed me how it mixes with other pigments and makes them rich and dark. I am sold, it is the best pigment ever 😀 !

  2. Wow Alex, I love this two-toned rose.I did like you to look at the works of the watercolor artist Carol Carter.She does two-toned painting when the surface is sopping wet. She seems to have an excellent control over the paint flow. I have her link in my blog.Love your info on sepia. I need to try that paint out. I am surprised to notice that I don’t have it in my palette.I usually resort to burnt umber for darkening the hues.

    • Thanks, Raji! And thank you for mentioning Carol Carter. I went to her site, what an interesting work she is doing. You have wonderful watercolor links assembled on your blogroll. I am working through them :).

  3. The colors are kind of psychedelic, they really catch the eye and work nicely together. Very smooth transitions too.

    I remember reading this tip somewhere: you can use a wax crayon or waxy colored pencil to kind of “seal off” an area and keep the washes from running wild. Good for the whites of the eyes too.

    It’s enjoyable to watch you progress in watercolor since I don’t paint much and always learn some things here. When I do it’s always wet-in-wet. The spontaneity of it just sees to suit me.

    • Psychedelic??!! LOL! Making it psychedelic was not intentional, unfortunately! But at least it is something :)! I know about wax or crayon resist technique, but didn’t think of it at the time. This flower was done almost wet-in-wet, I would wet a petal and then flow pigment into the puddle. I tried to do it in such way that two or more pigments would merge in a pleasing way, but couldn’t manage that just yet. I am painting another flower and trying it again.

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