The painting of a single flower involves certain painterly skills, namely: scaling up, negative/positive painting, curls on leaves and petals, colour contrast, design principles: balance and contrast, focal point/s, using watercolour pencils, wet on wet, glazing, background – handle with care, working from light to dark and using complimentary colours.
It is very interesting to complete a comparative exercise and paint one single flower and then paint another painting of that flower in multiples. Single flowers lend themselves to scaling up, single large flower paintings make a worthy piece of artwork.
Scaling up: use a grid system, pencil measure, by eye, use a plumb line to establish the centre line, or go with your instinct and start painting.
Negative/positive space: when scaling up ensure that the negative space is not a larger area than the positive space: if it is the magnificent optical illusion of a large flower is somewhat overshadowed by the negative space around the shape of the flower.
The focal point: paint that first (I painted the anther and stamens first) and then paint the negative space. That clearly defines the shape of the flower.
The Colour of the Background: A Big Consideration – I mixed a chromatic black, 50/50 burnt umber and ultramarine blue but also added a small amount of red to make a purple biased colour. An alternative background would be a variegated wash which is a wet on wet application of three different colours dropped on to the damp paper and allowed to merge into one another.
Complimentary colours: the flower is very yellow so make the background a purple, which is the complimentary of yellow.
Watercolour pencils: I used the pencils for the anther and stamens, I find watercolour pencils very useful for flower paintings.
Glazing: I glazed the areas of yellow on the flower, applying one layer of paint and when that was dry one more layer.
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