Decide on the layout you are going to use for this painting. Although the photograph we are using as a reference is landscape, I did prefer to make this a portrait layout painting. Then make a drawing of the main shapes, ensuring that you mark in the curls on the petals, a main component of a floral art painting.
You can use acrylics as you do your watercolours, you can makes washes of the colours, and work right through to opaque colour which you cannot see through. I mixed an ultramarine blue with a crimson and tested this a lot on a swatch before I was pleased that the colour was a good match for the original.
Acrylics dry quickly, bear that in mind. You can buy or make a wet palette for these, but there are other ways to keep the mixes: cover loosely with cling film (if you are going to use the next day) but what I do is add a small amount of water to each colour to keep it fluid. However, if you work at a quick rate this is not an issue.
Work this light to dark. First lay a wash of the lightest tone of your purple over the petals. That will dry pretty quickly. Then use a stronger wash where the colour gets darker. I mixed up two washes, from the mix of paint that I made. I made a lot of the mix as I was sure I would use it all, which I did.
To lighten a colour you can add white to it, but do not add too much white, you will make the colour milky, or you can go over the dry acrylic with white.
Cover the stems with a wash of yellow ochre and cover that with a graded wash of purple (darker near the flower). At this stage stand back and take a good look at what you have painted thus far. Check with the reference photograph that the colour’s tone matches that of the photograph’s.
The curls on the petals, I used some of my strongest mix for these, but added a very small amount of black, black will darken acrylic colours.
Finishing the Stems. Mix yellow with purple and add the darker lines. There is some green in there too which you can paint on when the yellow and purple mix is dry.
Edging – A Good Way to enhance the perspective of a petal is to use edging. Use a white acrylic and a very very fine brush. Paint very lightly around the parts of the petal that curl with your paint, you just about touch the paper or canvas.
The Background. Mix up three washes of yellow, and three washes of green, light, medium and dark for both colours. When using a canvas you can work wet on wet but you have to work that on a flat surface. If using paper, wet the paper, let that water soak in and then apply your yellow colours first, and then lay in the greens. Let the colours mingle to form a diffused background. When it is dry you can add some form of leaves with a large brush, just suggestions of shapes of plants in the background.
A benefit of using acrylics is that you can paint over a dark colour with a light colour, e.g. the white over the purple does not sink into the stronger tone of the purple.
Do not allow paint to dry on your brushes. It will dry solid and becomes a problem to remove and can ruin some brushes. If I do this, which can happen, I then wash the brush in warm soapy water. Also, the paint will dry solid on a palette so remove residue once you have completed your painting. If you recycle plastic containers from food shopping, as I do, this is not really a problem, these are really chuck away palettes, a great way of reusing plastic food containers.