Monday, February 20, 2012


Here's a nice wet-in-wet technique for painting flowers. I'm stepping aside from my usual glazed layers to work in adjacent segments of feathered colour.

Begin with a simple sketch, just one or two blossoms, with the separate petals defined:
Prepare two puddles of colour, a yellow and a red. I used Winsor Yellow and Cadmium Red with a bit of Quinacridone Magenta for variety of hue. Pre-wet one single petal with a wash of yellow.

While the yellow is glistening and wet, load up your brush with red (pigment-rich rather than watered down), and dab colour into the base and up the centre of the yellow. The wet yellow wash will start to take up the red, dragging it into natural-looking veining.

While that petal is drying move over to a new one, staying away from the first. Start with the yellow as before and add the red, observing the natural shifts of colour and leaving a yellow edge to the petal.
And repeat, again leaving the still-wet petals alone while starting a new one.
Fill in between the petals once they have dried, using the same yellow to red technique, and move on to the next flower.I added a little blue-green, a mystery mix left over on my palette, for some pockets of shading in the yellow.
Mixing Sap Green with the yellow, lay in the stems and a few leaves. Careful brushwork will keep the the red edges from bleeding into the green. And then go to town with an assortment of wet in wet green shades for background.

And that wraps up another two-hours-or-less painting. The studio cat, below, stepped between me and the tulips a few times, just in case I needed his input. Very decorative, if not helpful.

“The smallest feline is a masterpiece” – Leonardo Da Vinci


  1. Thank you for this watercolor class! Watercolor really does a fine job of mimicking the tulip's veining. Each of your tulip paintings is a beauty, and I loved your use of the mystery color for shading.

    Still life with attendant kitty is a gem.

    Thank you also for your reply to me on the prior post, and that update with the subtle dissolving of the watercolor pencil work. Quite lovely.


  2. What a lovely blog. Will have to have a go at some tulips, you make it look easy, but I bet it's not!

  3. Stumbled on your blog from somewhere & I'm now a follower & how pleased I am. Very helpful tutorials for me as a mere beginner. Now that summers over & the days are short I'll be spending time on my aquarelle painting. I look forward to searching through your archives.
    Best wishes Barbara

  4. Oh goodness. Frances, you really shouldn't give away your secrets!

    What an amazing and beautifully presented tutorial for painting tulips. I do a fair bit of painting of my own and posts like these really help.

    So glad I found your blog

    Happy new year!