Join me as I lead you through the process of painting these vibrant Oriental Lilies. The reference photo we’re using today is my own from years ago when we were living back east.
Sketching the Lily
Let’s start with a sketch of these big shapes. Either you can sketch the positive flower shapes or sketch the negative shapes to develop the flower shapes. It’s beneficial to familiarize yourself with your subjects first by sketching. Using any soft pencil is perfect.
Once you’ve practiced your sketching, make a final light outline sketch on your watercolor paper. Download the practice sheet below if desired.
Transferring your drawing
There are easy ways to go about getting this drawing on to your watercolor paper. If you have a light box, place your watercolor paper on top of the line drawing, then place both on your light box. Transfer paper such as Sally’s Wax Free graphite paper works well using light pencil lines. Simply place the drawing on top of transfer paper and watercolor paper on the bottom. Trace the lines with a pencil or a stylus.
Because we want to protect the flower edges from our dark background, I masked the outlines of anything that won’t be dark: flower petals, stems, and leaves. You can use the Grafix Incredible Nib to apply your resist or color shapers .
Creating your palette
As your masking fluid dries, practice creating colors for your painting.
I’ve used my Daniel Smith watercolor tube paints for this painting, and this printout shows you the color mixes. I love using a variety of values and pigments to create an interesting painting. These are only suggestions. You’ll always want to make your own artistic decisions using what materials you already own.
Creating the background
When masking has dried, mix a cool yellow (Hansa Yellow Light or Lemon Yellow) and a warm yellow (New Gamboge) for a background wash. This is only a first wash to provide some warmth underneath our darker second application. Because we are painting with transparent watercolors, the glow of yellow will radiate through our darks. I did an experiment on scrap paper apply dark pigments on to white paper and then dark pigments over a yellow-toned paper. Try it yourself to see the beautiful effect.
While that is drying, mix up your darks colors. I used an assortment of some of my darkest paints. Using color right out of the tube will give you juicy darks vs. pulling darks from your dried palette. Adding only enough water to the darks to activate them will also ensure a dramatic wash. Always make sure you mix up enough paint to cover all the negative spaces. Allow to dry completely. Paining the small negative spaces in the lower right side of the paper are a great place to start, as they are quick to fill. Once you get comfortable, you can paint the large L-shaped background. As long as you keep a wet edge and keep paint moving, your colors will mingle and blend.
Once this dries, ask yourself if your background could use one more glazing layer. A glaze (one color diluted with water to make it the consistency of skim milk) applied over the top of a multi-color background will unify it. I chose to do that on my painting and really liked the effect.
Painting the flower
With a pickup eraser, remove all masking on the outer edges of flowers, stems, and leaves. Now make sure all stamens are masked ~ all elements inside the flower that are not going to be painted pink will be masked.
Paint the stems and leaves with your greens (see color palette), adding a touch of Quinacridone Rose here and there to create interest. When one stem is behind another, paint those edges with a deeper value for shadowing. Whatever element is in front will be lighter than something behind it.
Layering in detail
By using mixtures of pinks such as Opera Rose, Quinacridone Rose, and Alizarin Crimson we can create 3 values. Mix up your pinks and begin painting the flower on the right since it’s not the focal point. Pre-wetting a petal before you paint it, will allow for watercolor to move and assist you in blending. After painting a petal with varied values of pink and letting the paint dry a bit, you can drop in some dark markings for texture.
Paint the focal point lily now that you had practice! Allow to dry.
Remove the masking. Mix up warm colors for the stamens: New Gamboge, Quinacridone Burnt Orange and Burnt Sienna (again using 3 values). The warm colors against the cool pinks will be pleasing. The stamen stems are a light value of yellow-green and a bit of white paint. Tip: always test your colors on scrap paper before jumping in.
Here is my finished painting. Hold your painting at arm’s length to access and admire it. Sometimes taking a picture of it on your phone and looking at the photograph will show you something you missed. Looking at your painting the next day, seeing it with fresh eyes.
I hope you enjoyed this floral painting with me today! Time spent painting is a GIFT! Remember that every time you paint you learn valuable information to apply to your next watercolor. Thank you for joining me!
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