droppedImage2nd Place, "Other Media" category in the Richeson 75 Still Life & Floral International Competition 2010

I began this painting with a graphite contour drawing, then applied glazes beginning with my lightest yellows, letting each layer dry before proceeding to the next. I then moved around the color wheel to a warmer (and darker value) yellow-orange for the next two glazes; then to the next warmer, darker red-orange; and so on. The Pthalo Blue was applied boldly since I knew I wanted a very dark background.

With my focal point clearly in mind, I put the first glazes of color in the leaves, building shapes and textures which would act as a foundation for the greenery's anatomy - veins; puffy, curled leaves; and so on. It doesn't look like much, but I find careful attention to shapes right from the beginning is essential to making leaves look like leaves.

droppedImage 1Kate's Basic Brush Rule:  Brushstrokes show in watercolor. If the veins run diagonally from the leaf's center, Paint The Undercolors Diagonally From The Center. Little dabs, circles, or lengthwise strokes won't look like sunflower leaves.

At this point, I needed to get some darks in place. It's important not to bring your subject to a finish befor addressing the background unless it's going to be white or very light and airy. If you haven't started on it by th time you are halfway done with your main subject, you are setting yourself up for some challenges. It might be a great painting when you're done, but it won't look like what you had in mind.

Here, I used neutralizing glazes over much of the pthalo blue. Darks were mixed to the consistency of melted ice cream, applied where I wanted the value darkest, then softened outward with a clean, damp brush. Also, notice that I changed my mind about how much detail I wanted in the leaf to the left of the stem.

droppedImage 2Once the painting was dry again, the final touches included further darkening and neutralizing the background with varying mixtures of my main triad. I did this by adding first more of one triad color to the mix, then adding more of another triad color. I allowed damp sections to dissolve into one another, as well as adding another neutralizing glaze over the pthalo blue. After that, it was a matter of balancing the painting with neutralizing glazes in the petals and with small darks where more detail was needed to guide the viewer through the painting.

Main triad:
Permanent Orange - Maimeri Blu
droppedImage 3Green Blue - Maimeri Blu
Quinacridone Violet - M. Graham

Along with:
Cadmium Yellow Light - M. Graham
Cadmium Red Light - Maimeri Blu
Cadmium Red - M. Graham
Pthalocyanine Blue - M. Graham

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