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I would like to share with you the process I go through when I create a painting. This page will hold paintings from their inception to completion. Some paintings take me a long time, and some seem to almost paint themselves. 

Sometimes I sketch my painting on the watercolor paper first and other times I don’t. Sometimes I use masking fluid to save my whites and sometimes I paint around that area. Sometimes I paint one small area at a time, and other times I paint a little bit on all of it then go around with the second wash.

Sometimes I paint the background first, and other times I wait until last.

I recently finished this painting of my Rhododendron.                                                                         image

It looks pretty good, but I think I can do better.

I want to try painting it a little different. In this one I painted the background blue around the outer edge of the flowers and then applied the masking fluid to the stamens on three of the flowers. Then I painted the red of the base petals. After that I began to paint the shadows on all the white petals.

This is nice and colorful, but it lacks a strong center of interest.


My Rhode 2

I didn’t sketch this before I started. I wanted one blossom to be the center of interest, so I decided to paint all the other elements in shadow, reserving color for the one complete blossom in the right center.  I began by painting varying concentrations of Prussian Blue to the petals surrounding that area. Then I applied a light wash of Permanent Rose to the shadow areas of the focal blossom. 

Then I remembered the masking fluid and applied that to all the stamen areas.  

The following day I applied another light wash of Permanent Rose to the shadow areas of the focal blossom. I then added a light wash of Indigo to the cooler shadows. I then added some green to the areas that will hold leaves in the background. I deepened the areas closest to the focal flower and added the same green to the area at the base of the stamens for unity.

I hope you return for more of this process.

My Rhodie 2 phase 2

You can see that I’ve added washes to the primary blossom. It’s really beginning to take shape.  I’ve also added dimension to the background blossoms  with washes of Indigo. They are more readable as flowers, but still not competing with the primary blossom. I have darkened the background especially around the primary blossom to help direct your eye there. 

I will add more contrast to the primary blossom to really help the white shine. I probably won’t add more than one or two more washes to the background blossoms, but expect to add quite a few more to the primary one. 


My Rhode 2 phase 3                                                                                                                                                  Next I added a couple of washes of Indigo to the background blossoms. I need to add another wash to them along the edges of the primary blossom. 

I also added a couple of washes to the shadows of the primary blossom. It is coming forward nicely. I am not happy with the blue tones behind the stamen. I think I will add a little pink to give it some purple tones therefore separating it from the background blossoms. 

Then if I deepen the hard edges and work on some leaf shapes in green It should look great.


When I added pink to the shadow area behind the focal stamens I thought I improved it tremendously. It brings the entire major blossom to the front.  I also deepened the shadows closest to the blossom that also brought it forward.

The result was that the blossoms in shadow are looking rather blah and lacking shape and form. So I needed to correct that without having them compete with my focal point.

With light washes of the indigo I kept the shadow blossoms in the background but gave them more shape and depth.  Their shadows received two to three light washes of indigo.  I also needed to work on the background. To do that I used varying concentrations of the green I mixed up. I painted leaf shapes at different angles, sizes, and aspects. I tried not to have any of the leaves pointing out the corners of the painting so that your eye continues to move around the painting. l also used more concentrated greens closest to the major blossom to continually lead your eye back to it.

11x12 inches

11×12 inches

I strengthened the shadows of the primary blossom to add depth and contrast. I’m happy with this version of the Rhode. 

Come back as I take you through a Gladiolus painting on Yupo paper.

IMG_4080 (1)                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I have been working with (learning about) Yupo paper. It’s very different from watercolor or wood because it is not absorbent. The paint sits on top of the paper. It is easy to mix colors on this paper. It is great for using salt, alcohol drops, and water drops. You can let it dry a little and then use stencils, stamps, and easily remove portions you don’t like.  

I have painted a heron and pansy on this paper. Then when I watched Mark Mohafey’s video on Yupo paper for the third time I saw that he made the most amazing mono print by painting onto one yupo piece and then applying a second on top of it. Like I said his was amazing. I got some mud on the bottom portion. Can you see it on the photo to the left? I was not thrilled but decided to work through it. I had two exact pieces of paper. 

Let me take through the first one a step at a time.

For some reason I saw Gladiolus and decided to paint a photo my friend took last summer of her gladiolus. I love the colors. This is after the first session of painting. 



I added a second layer of paint and removed some at the centers. To do this take a barely damp brush and stroke it over the area you want to lighten. If you haven’t used staining paint you can easily get back to the white of the paper.

Then I cleaned up the stems and added some darks to give dimension.




Here I added some sunset colors to the top, took out some highlights, and darkened the centers. I also took out the mud to the right of the flowers.

I will need to decide what to do with the foreground and see about cleaning up some of the buds, stems, and sky.

What I love about Yupo is all the happy accidents that happen. Look at the sky and all the interesting shapes, colors and granulation that happened when water and color were added.


finished Glads

I decided I needed to have some soil at the base of the stems. I used a great technique to get realistic textured soil.  All I did was add water to the areas  where I wanted the soil. I avoided the stems themselves. Then I took about six different brown watercolor pencils and a piece of sandpaper. Holding the pencil and sandpaper perpendicular to the wet area I rubbed the pencils against the sandpaper and let the tiny shavings fall onto the wet paper. I took one pencil at a time over the whole area. Any pencil that gets onto the dry areas can be blown off easily. Keep the paper flat during this process and until it is totally dry. 

I didn’t want to distract from the flowers so I decided to repeat the same technique with green watercolor pencils in the mid ground . I’m quite happy with the results.

When I looked for a matt for “Giddy Gladiolus” I didn’t have one that complimented them in the perfect size.  What I did was to bring the painting out onto the matt so none of the painting was lost.  This photo has a lot of shadow in it. I will try to take a new one soon.

11x14 inches

11×14 inches









Then I started working on “Flower Madness” It started out with the same background  as “Giddy Gladiolus”  What I did with it was wet the whole page and then I added globs of watercolor paint. When that waFlower Gardens finished I sprayed it with water and let the globs run together. I purposefully used some granulating combinations.


Not too impressive right now, is it?




The next thing I did was to work on the shapes I had created. There appeared to be many flower like shapes so I encouraged that.




By using a damp brush I could remove the paint where I wanted to, enhancing the organic movement that occurred naturally with the paint and water.








Here is a close up of the awesome shapes that occurred.



There were lots of areas of that mud and I just couldn’t live with it, so I lifted all of it out with a damp brush. I added more globs of paint to any areas I wasn’t happy with and ended up with this beautiful jumble of color.  I also took a micron pen and defined some flower centers.





Then what I needed to do was to add foliage and perhaps some soil.



close up Flower Madness


I wanted to experiment a little so I dampened an area to reactivate the pigment and added a drop of alcohol. It was amazingly cool. I just love the granulation and motion here.





Flower Madness

Then I took the micron pen and enhanced the flowers a bit more, repainted some muddy looking blossoms and added a varying green background. I used a combination of lifting and painting to achieve the leaf shapes. Those are purposefully pale. There is plenty going on in this painting and I didn’t want to distract from the blossoms. The viewers eye needs a place to rest.  I also added a little brown around the leaves with watercolor pencil shavings.

The blue sky was simplified by wetting it down and adding drops of water.