Frosted flowers in watercolor

Some flowers again this week ! Yes it’s winter and i have a lot less inspiration, so i count on my stock of personal pictures to help me. This week, i’ve chosen a picture of frosted flowers.

My reference picture is quite a complicated image with a lot of informations on it. All this informations are not needed to understand it, but you have to identify the one you could remove without damaging the understanding. With this idea in mind i’ve painted a couple of studies. in my first try, i’ve tried to paint as much informations as i can. And the picture at the end is very messy. But i’ve learned something : my background isn’t necessary to understand the picture.

With the things learn in my first experience, i’ve been able to paint a second study. And the picture is already a bit more interesting and a bit easier to read also. The frosted flowers are more recognizable. But when i look at this second study, i can see two points that can be improved. First, the stem of my frosted flowers are not necessary in my picture (in my taste). Without them, you could still understand the picture. Second, the darkest parts of my painting have been painted with neutral tint which “kill” my blues. All the shadows are boring and so flat.

And now it’s time for my third try, the one in video. Maybe the simplification is a bit extreme, but it has the advantage here to bring an atmosphere in my painting. No more background, no more stems, not much more information than just my flowers.

Watercolor frosted flowers in video

Supplies :
Brushes : Escoda Aquario nº18, Escoda Reserva nº6, Raphaël le “803” nº2, tooth brush.
Paper : Saunders Waterford rough
Colors : Cerulean blue (Daniel Smith), Indanthrene blue (Sennelier), Verona gold ochre (Daniel Smith), Rose madder lake (Sennelier), Wax pencil white Neocolor (Caran d’Ache), Acrylique white opaque pen (Posca).

And here you have the finished painting (click to enlarge):

Primroses in watercolor

For this week vidéo, i’m keeping the spring theme, or more the transition toward spring theme, with this lovely bouquet of primroses emerging from the snow.

My reference picture (thanks Mom) is very simple. The subject, primroses, is well framed by the snow. It looks like an easy painting coming, and without lots of worries. And yet. I have had so much trouble with this picture ! First it was the colors that were problematic. In my first study, i’ve tried to follow the colors i was seeing in the picture. But these are quite dark flowers against a dark background. Dark + dark = no contrast and a very dull painting. But there is something to learn from it : i should do more studies with just one colors and looking for values in my image !

In a second study, it was my composition that was lacking of dynamique and unity. But well, i was looking for trouble there as i was painting a square subject in a rectangular sheet of paper ! And even this problematic composition is not something that you see right away, it broke the dynamic and it looks like my flower are just laying there next to each other without something linking them.

And sadly my last attempt (the video) doesn’t combine all the good points of my studies. I made mistakes again with my composition and there is something still lacking ans i can’t point what. Even if i’m not totally happy with this painting for now, i will not try again. I will move on, paint something else and when all my frustration disappear i will come back to this subject and maybe i’ll be able to paint what’s in my head !

Watercolor primroses in video

Supplies :
Brushes : Escoda Aquario nº18, Silver Brush Black velvet 1/4″ dagger shape, Raphaël le 803 nº2, Raphaël 903 nº12.
Paper : Arches rough.
Colors : Indanthrene blue (Sennelier), Quinacridone gold (Daniel Smith), Rose madder lake (Sennelier), Lunar blue (Daniel Smith).

And here you have the finished painting (click to enlarge) :

Snowdrops in watercolor

This week, between cold and snowy weather, i was i need of a little piece of hope for spring. So i try myself on painting snowdrops in watercolor.

This started when Jean Haines (famous english watercolorist) posted her work on snowdrops studies. It inspired me to try to paint them too. So i try her technique first but wihtout a lot of sucess. And you can see the result in the first picture above. The flowers are painted last with some white gouache. After this study, i thought that it would be better if i was painting the snowdrops with my own path. I wasn’t convinced by the gouache technique. And i ended up with the second picture.

As snowdrops are white flowers, it means that i have to work a lot with negative painting. Maybe the most delicate phase in this process was painting around my flowers during my first wash and of course not forgetting them ! Once this is done, the rest of the painting is quite straight forward. Adding greeneries for contexte, some shadows on the flowers to get some dimension… and this is it ! The second important point in this painting is the colors i’ve used. Snowdrops are winter flowers, so i have to render the atmosphere right for you to understand better the painting. I’ve decided to work with a lot of cool colors. Blues and violet mostly, but even the greens are quite cold. And to make those colors even colder i’ve used a bit of warm tone in order to add contrast.

Watercolor snowdrops in video

Supplies :
Brushes : Raphaël le “803” nº2, Rosemary & Co serie 39 1/2″.
Paper : Arches hot pressed.
Colors : Indanthrene blue (Sennelier), Rose madder lake (Sennelier), Quinacridone gold (Daniel Smith), Lunar blue (Daniel Smith).

And here you have the finished painting (click to enlarge) :

Bridge in watercolor

This video follow my previous cityscape painting : the search of a balance between realism and emotion. We are often attracted to details and we lost ourselves in it. So in this painting of a bridge i want to show you that details are not the important part.

So my subject is a bridge as you can see it in the reference image above. A simple steel bridge, not very interesting. The most interesting part is the contrast between the right part without any building and the left part with the two big buildings. In the second image i wanted to show you my work on site in plein-air. That was quite challenging to paint this scene in plein-air ! And i’m usually very stressed out in this situation, the result is often messy. Bu i want to pursue this exercise because i learn a lot each time i paint in plein-air. The third image from my sketchbook is another attempt of the same subject but with another possibility of color scheme.

And finally, the watercolor painting i show you today in video is quite a balanced mix between my first attempt in plein air and the color study. I’ve often noticed that i have a tendency to take off some details when i paint in plein air. I’m less precise in plein-air than at home. But here i have achieve a less detailed painting. Now i can overcome details more easily and i can keep better just the essence of a picture.

Watercolor bridge in video

Supplies :
Brushes : Raphaël le “803” nº2 et Raphaël 903 nº12 pointed oval shape.
Paper : Canson Héritage rough.
Colors : Cerulean blue (Daniel Smith), Indanthrene blue (Sennelier), Viridian (Schmincke), Verona gold ochre (Daniel Smith), Quinacridone gold (Daniel Smith), Rose madder lake (Sennelier), Quinacridone burnt scarlet (Daniel smith).

And here you have the finished painting (click to enlarge) :

Quinacridone gold, how to love it ?

For this second opus of How to love a color, i’ve chosen to talk about quinacridone gold. One of my favorite color !

Before going un the details of this color, i wanted to show you my reference image. It’s a carnivorous plant, a Venus flytrap i believe, very delicate and with some interesting shapes. I’ve tried first painting it in a more abstract way (the picture on the right). This first version was my way of finding how to paint this plant. Back then i was in need of searching, testing, and trying in order to understand how this plant is structured.

Quinacridone gold is a gold yellow, very transparent and without any granulation. I’m using this color alone or in a mix. My most favorite mix is quinacridone gold with ultramarine blue. This particular mix allows me to get a large variety of very natural greens. And it’s easy to tweek the color by adding more of one or the other color. My tube is quite old and it’s the original formulation with the pigment PO49. But it doesn’t exist anymore sadly. So the most common mix for this color is now PO48 with PY150. You can have a look of this different formulations with different brands here. I haven’t tried this new version for now but i should do it quite soon because i don’t have much left in my tube !

Anyhow, i’ve forgot to tell in my video about a particularity of quinacridone gold. When this colors is put in a wet area it will “swoosh” across the area very quickly. The pigment is able to move a lot and can even push back some other colors. It’s quite handy when painting gold heart in a flower. But this could be also a bad thing, as this color has a tendency to overflow everywhere !

Loving quinacridone gold

Supplies :
Brushes : Raphaël “le 803″ nº2, Silver Brush Black Velvet 1/4” dagger shape.
Paper : Arches rough 300gsm.
Colors : Ultramarine blue (Daniel Smith), Viridian (Schmincke), Quinacridone gold (Daniel Smith), Permanent alizarine crimson (Daniel Smith), White ink (Winsor & Newton).

And here you have the finished painting (click to enlarge):

Painting an emotion in watercolor

New year, but same habits ! And for this first video of 2019 (sorry for not posting any video last week !), i wanter to paint a cityscape where emotion takes the first place.

View of Stockholm, reference picture

As you can see it, between my reference picture and my final painting, there is a big difference in the feeling of it. My picture was taken during spring this year, with a beautiful weather. But, on the contrary, in my painting, i’ve add my feelings about Stockholm during winter. The sadness of the short daylight, the sky eternally overcast, the humidity… Maybe this example is a bit too contrasted. But this way i can show you that, no matter the photo you use, you can always add your way of seeing things. And maybe during this spring i’ll paint this same picture again and i’ll end with a totally different painting with another atmosphere !

Painting an emotion in video

View of Stockholm, first sketch

As i say it in the video, the choice of colors here is very important in order to convey the feelings you want. But composition is important too ! In the study on the left side, you can see that my painting is a bit dull. I’ve used exactly the same colors as in the video. But the composition is slightly different in the video and gave another weight to the elements. With the new composition, i achieve a painting where the shapes are connected and “talking” to each other. It didn’t take drastic changes : a horizon line lower, more contraste in the size of shapes… And here you have it !

Brushes : Escoda Último 1″ flat, Raphaël petit gris le “803” nº2, Silver brush Black velvet 1/4″ dagger shape.
Paper : Arches rough 300gsm.
Colors : Ultramarine blue (Daniel Smith), Permanent alizarine crimson (Daniel Smith), Viridian (Schmincke).

And here you have the finished painting (click to enlarge):

Abstract greeting cards in watercolor

Following last week’s video about traditional greeting cards, here is another version : abstract greeting cards !

As i like more and more painting abstract watercolors, i thought that it was quite logical to share a serie of abstract greeting cards. This may not be to  everyone’s taste, but they are very easy to paint and have a nice festive looking thanks to the metallic pigments ! Have a look on this beauties :

For this cards, simply let your imagination run freely and release any pressure. There is no need here to paint something realistic, or to make them look like something real. A narrow choice of color is always a good idea, because it will allow you to obtain an unity (very important when painting abstract) easily. For each painting i’ve used only two or three colors and one metallic color. This if enough to have something interesting without loosing ourselves in endless mixing. And of course, have fun ! Play with colors and shapes. And you can also experiment with brush marks. And study how the way of handling your brush have an impact on your paper.

Another tip for successful abstract greeting cards : if you are not confident in your abilities, you can start with a bigger sheet of paper. And after painting it you can cut it and choose the best part to show off !

Abstract greeting cards in video

Supplies :
Brushes : Silver Brush Black velvet 1/4″ dagger shape, Raphaël petit gris 903 nº12, Escoda Último nº8 rigger and a palette knife.
Paper : Saunders Waterford rough
Colors : Indigo (Winsor & Newton), Quinacridone burnt scarlet (Daniel Smith), Ultramarine blue (Daniel Smith), Permanent alizarine crimson (Daniel Smith), Quinacridone gold (Daniel Smith).
Metallic colors : Pearlescent shimmer (Daniel Smith), Iridescent copper (Daniel Smith), Aqua bronze pale gold (Schmincke), Aqua bronze silver (Schmincke).

And here you have the finished greeting cards (click to enlarge) :

abstract greeting cards

Greeting cards in watercolor

It’s this time of the year again ! So this week i’m painting greeting cards in watercolor. Three templates easy to paint !

I’ve been inspired by some past watercolors i’ve done for this three little cards. Maybe you remember this video of 4 examples of skies. I’ve just use the nordic light sky for one of my greeting cards. Two month ago, i’ve also painted a pine cone and i use the same idea but simplify on another card. And for the last one, it’s a very simple christmas tree with gold and copper baubles.

Watercolor greeting cards in video

I’m so sorry for my bad voice in this video, a bad cold caught me !

The key to succeed in the painting of this three little cards is to not aim for a very realistic outcome. Just an impression of the subject will be enough to evocate an image to your spectator. Trust him ! For example, the pine cone is very drafty, sketchy and i’m sure you recognize right away a pine cone. So don’t bother to paint to much details and focus on the essential.

The big plus of this little watercolor paintings is that you don’t need to know how to draw to make them. The christmas tree ? Just a scribble, back and forth in a triangular shape. The pine cone ? A scribble again but with rounder shapes. The nordic light ? a gradient and some scribbles at the foreground !

For this paintings i’ve used some special effect paints. But as it’s my first time with this, i’m detailing to much how to use them and what they can achieve. I need to test them more and learn before ! But i’ll make a video about them in the futur for sure !

Brushes : Raphaël petit gris le “803” nº2, Escoda Versatil nº6, Winsor & Newton Foundation nº6.
Colors : Indigo (Winsor & Newton), Ultramarine blue (Daniel Smith), Cerulean blue (Daniel Smith), Viridian (Schmincke), Quinacridone gold (Daniel Smith), Verona gold ochre (Daniel Smith), Burnt sienna (Schmincke).
Special colors : Iridescent gold (Daniel Smith), Iridescent copper (Daniel Smith), Pearlescent shimmer (Daniel Smith).

And here you have the final painting (click to enlarge) :

Abstract watercolor

Painting abstract in watercolor is something that attracts me and scares me at the same time. But the more i try this exercise the more i like it ! So how i do that ?

Maybe it’s best if i start by defining abstract painting. So abstract is playins with colors and shapes in order to paint an emotion, a feeling… but without making a representation of reality. In fact, it’s just speak out on the paper without painting something we know. Well, yet I’m using a reference image. But i’m not using it as “i want to paint this”. I’m using it like a support to my imagination. Maybe there is in the picture a color i like or a shape i want to reproduce or just an energy… 

Reference picture

For this abstract painting, i’ve used this picture as a support. Yes, it’s the same as last week. But you’ll see that my outcome is totally different, and doesn’t have much in common with the picture. My path was : i want to reproduce the white shape inside a colorful shape with using only vertical and horizontal marks. And then… well, i let myself go and i just followed what’s was emerging on the paper.

Urban Sketch Book Sennelier

In my video (just below), i explain that i’m using this time a very peculiar paper. It’s a sketchbook from Sennelier which has the particularity of opening like an accordion. The advantage is that there isn’t any binding.  And one could totally paint a very long panoramique sketch. The paper inside is 100% cotton and it’s a real pleasure to paint on it !

Watercolor abstract in video

Brushes : Raphaël petit gris le “803” nº2, Silver Brush Black velvet 1/4″ in a dagger shape.
Paper : Urban Sketch Book Sennelier
Colors : Quinacridone gold (Daniel Smith), Quinacridone burnt scarlet (Daniel Smith), Lavander (Daniel Smith).

And here you have the finished painting (click to enlarge) :

White flowers in watercolor

This week i’m painting with you white flower, wild flowers of course ! There is a challenge to this subject : painting white with watercolor…

Wild white flowers

My reference image is very simple, just two wild white flowers. And i think that when you just start painting with negative painting technique, it’s easier to start with very simple subject in order to really understand the process. Et behind that name, negative painting, it’s in fact a really simple concept : in place of painting the subject you just have to paint around the subject. And it’s a very important technique when the subject is white. As you may know, we don’t use white with watercolor. Of course there is white watercolor paint and white gouache and white pencil and whit ink… but sometimes it’s better to keep the paper just white. Because sometimes adding white at the end can be too much layers. But if you keep the white of the paper, it will bring lightness to the painting.

Painting negative shapes is easier than one thought ! And even easier with a flower’s subject. You can always tweak the shape by adding or removing pigments when everything is wet. And is you’re not very sure about a certain area you can always blur it and gradient it to the white and make it  very soft. If you want to add even more life to the flower you can also add some very light washes into the flower area. It will bring texture and volume to the flower ! 

White flowers painting in video

Brushes : Raphaël 903 nº2, Silver Brush Black velvet 1/4″ dagger shape.
Paper : Arches rough.
Colors : Ultramarine blue (Daniel Smith), Viridian (Schmincke), Verona gold ochre (Daniel Smith), Quinacridone gold (Daniel Smith), Burnt sienna (Schmincke).

And here you have the finished painting (click to enlarge) :