Thursday, 31 July 2014


Dear followers! From tomorrow August 1st till September 10th I'll be less available, so I can answer your question with delay. I'm going on vacation! I'll be in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia for 5 weeks! Yay! Hope everything will be all right. Keep fingers crossed!

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Mom's favourite lilies

I had only 3 white pages left in my sketchbook (now I have only one), so I decided to sketch something more. I chose my Mom's favourite lilies from her garden. They are pink and they smell really beautiful.

Unfortunately, during the painting I made a big splash of paint (well, it happens). I pretend that it was intended (of course it was!) and I added more of them.

Echium vulgare

Nature is surprising me all the time. Today I wanted to sketch something, but I don't have any living plant now (I have a pine cone, but maybe later...). So I was browsing my photos and I hit on the Echium vulgare

The name of this plant is very interesting. Unfortunatelly I have no idea how it's called in english. Echium vulgare is in latin, and in polish it's called ┼╝mijowiec zwyczajny. The first word - ┼╝mijowiec - comes from the name of the snake, in english it's an adder. And zwyczajny means ordinary, common. 

When I was drawing it with an ink I was wondering how it is called like that. And suddenly I realised, that there is one stamen that comes from the flower and looks like a tongue of the adder! I also read, that in the past this plant was used against adder's bites. Interesting!

Now I know a little bit more about the Echium vulgare. I wanted to paint it and keep it simple. I decided, again, to use an ink to draw an outline. I made the outer lines a little bit thicker. It reminds me paintings of one of my favourite artist - Alfons Mucha (I love art nouveau).

Here you can see the stamen that comes from the flower and looks like an adder's tongue.

I have to admit that I love this kind of sketching! Ink, a nib pen and watercolors! I love it! I feel very comfortable when I sketch this way, I really like it.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

My old sketchbook and curcuma

I've been preparing for my life journey to Asia  lately, so I don't have much time for painting, but yesterday I was given a flower called Curcuma. I knew about spice called turmeric (which in polish is "kurkuma"), but I had no idea that the spice comes from this flower. 

It looks really exotic. It has pink petals with green endings and a really long leaf. Of course I took tens of photos, because I hope to paint it (more accurately than I did today) when I come back.

Today I took my old sketchbook from the drawer and I fortunately got some white pages which I could use for some sketches. I tested some color mixes first, because in this sketchbook I hadn't used my new paints before. Then I took my nib pen and black ink and I was freely trying to draw this flower. Just a quick sketch.

After I done it I took my paints and add some colors. I also tried to write "Kurkuma" and color names with a nib pen. But it was quite difficult, because I made my sketchbook with cold pressed paper (I think it was Canson Vidalon or Montval, I'm not sure), and the surface has hard texture to write on it.

But eventually I wrote it somehow, althought I have no idea about calligraphy, I just tried to make it looks nice. 

It was a big fun to paint it. Drawing and painting in sketchbook is really different than normal painting. You don;t have to be really accurate, you can do whatever you want, you can feel free and make a lot of mistakes. It's your own sketchbook, and you can do everything. I'm going to buy Stillman and Birn Zeta Series sketchbook as soon as I come back from Asia. I can't wait to see that sketchbook, because a lot of people recommend it and I also have to admit, that it looks exactly how I want my sketchbook to look like. Nice cover, thick and smooth pages, good for watercolor. It seems to be perfect.

My old sketchbook I made by myself thanks to Sea Lemon's videos on YouTube. She showed step by step how to make a sketchbook and how to make nice and easy bookbinding and I tried to do it myself, because I couldn't find any sketchbook with thicker pages for watercolor here in shops.

Here are some sketches I did earlier in this sketchbook:

Sunday, 20 July 2014

[Sweet Pea] Pinks, reds, pinks, reds...

EDIT: I have no idea why some photos have so saturated colors :(

Today I finished painting the third Sweet Pea flower. That was crazy! I had so many problems with it. This flower is all pink or pinky-red. I used to like pinks, I used it a lot, but I didn't really pay attention to exact color. When I had to use pink, I mostly used Permanent Rose. But later I bought new paints, which gave me a wider range of pink colors. I was shocked when I saw Opera Rose on the paper. Have you seen this color!? It looks so unnatural and it just shines from the paper, it's so bright, it's just the same as those colorful markes to highlight a text, the pink one is just the same.
But let's come back to the flower. It was a big challenge. Honestly I had so many "oh no" moments, that I was painting it for two days. I thought I would never finish it. When I laid down the first layers I also made a mistake and used my brush too quickly, when the paint was still wet and I did those awful lighter spots.

Everything was not the way it should be. I also did some color tests. I decided that the most similar color to the original was a mix of Winsor Red and Permanent Rose. But later I also added layers of Ruby Red which is something between red and pink. The darker areas I made with the same mix: Winsor Red + Permanent Rose but with a little touch of Perylene Violet. I knew that adding the veins would change this flower into something better so I was patiently adding more layers, and waiting till it all dries so that I could add the veins. Finally I did it and I thought it looks ok. I also added the first washes under that triangular shape.

More layers with Permanent Rose and Winsor Red. At the bottom I also used some Cobalt Violet. The first layers were quite pale, while the next one was darker. I tried to get that spotted pattern.

After I added more and more layers, the flower was finished. On the petals I used a lifting technique to get some lights there. I took a damp brush, I dampened the areas when I wanted to get some light, and then I lift the paint off with a tissue.

This flower tought me again that patience is very very important. Also when you paint, there can be, as I say, "oh no" moment, when everything seems to be wrong. Just ignore it. Do what you are doing. There is always a risk that you won't be happy with the middle stages of your painting, but only when you finish the painting, you can say if it was worth it or not. Middle stages can be difficult, they may not look beautiful, but what counts is the result. That's why I used to didn't like when someone was watching when I was painting. Because middle stages were not really nice to watch. But now it doesn't bother me, because I know, that the result is like a beautiful swan, and the middle stages can be the ugly duckling. 

Friday, 18 July 2014

[Sweet Pea] Next challenge

Today I went for a walk with my camera to take some photos again. I came back with hundreds as usual but I also picked up some Sweet Pea flowers. I wanted to have a living plant next to me, so that I could observe every detail.

In this photo you can see my previous sweet pea and the actual living plant. You can see that the painting has similar colors like the plant on the left side. Unfortunately the colors are false, my camera changed it. The plant has actually more red-brownish back petals and I chose this one to my next exercise. 

Here the back petals are almost pink I don't know why. I tried to take a good photo, but the colors are still false. In the next photos you will be able to notice that the petals are truly red-brownish.
So here I made a pencil sketch of the flower just next to the previous one.

Here is my little workplace. Actually, I paint on my Mom's sewing machine :) The plate is still clean, but not for long. 

I laid down the first washes. Front petals are more violet-blue and back petals are red-brown but I laid the first wash of purple magenta, because I also see this color in the petals. 
On the plate I mixed some colors already. 

Now the difference with the previous one is noticeable. Petals are more red. I decided to use Perylene Maroon, and for the darker parts I mixed Perylene Maroon with Mauve.
I added more layers on the front petals. Before this stage I had "oh no" moment, because I couldn't find the right color. Besides today is very hot here and my paints were drying very fast, which was really annoying, because it was hard to paint wet-in-wet, and I constantly got hard edges.

Here probably you can see that the petals of the flowers have that red-brown color. I added some veins on the petals.

After I added veins on every petal I started to paint the front light part of the flower and the leaves (oh gosh...). I used a dry brush technique on this white part, because it has many little purple dots.
And here it is. Another Sweet Pea.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Searching for the right color [Sweet Pea]

I'm currently visiting my parents who live about 7 hours from me. Every time when I'm here in summer I take my camera and go for a long walk in the area. There are many gardens here and I always take thousands (literally) of reference photos. Here are my Mom's favourite lilies from her garden. They smell so beautiful.

I always take lots of photos of one plant, I try to place a focus point on every main parts of the flower, for example on every petal if there is a need. Also I try to take photos from different angles so that I could choose later the one that I like the most.

Yesterday I found very interesting plant, it's called Sweet Pea. It smells beautifully, it has lots of flowers and the flowers have a wide range of colors. I thought it would be a very good plant to practise choosing the right color. So I decided to paint some of those beautiful flowers taking specific note to achieve the best color I can. 

Fortunatelly I took my art supplies with me so I could play with colors already. I took Fabriano Artistico HP paper, which I cut into smaller pieces, because I knew I would do some sketches here. I read somewhere that the right side of the paper is the one with watermark. Unfortunatelly, when I was cutting the paper to smaller pieces I forgot to mark the right side. But FA paper has a specific texture on both sides, each one is different. I remembered how was the texure when I was painting the Vicia Cracca, and now I tried the other side (the "wrong" side) but I found it very good, maybe even better than the right side. 

Because I don't have an actual living plant, I have only photos, so I work from the photos (I know, I shouldn't, but I see nothing wrong with painting from the photos. It's better to paint from the photos than don't paint at all). 

For my first flower I chose the one with purple-reddish petals. I took another piece of paper, placed it next to the painting, and started mixing my colors. I love greens, but purples (or violets - I have no idea what is the difference in english), especially very deep purples are my favourite as well. 

I laid down the first washes with mixes of Permanent Rose, Perylene Violet and Mauve.

After I laid the first layer, there came the "oh no" moment, when I started to think whether I should stop and try another time and with another flower. But I took a break, and came back with new view. I laid down next layers, they were getting darker and darker and started to look quite nice. I found that the mixes of Alizarin Crimson + Perylene Violet and Alizarin Crimson + Mauve + a little touch of Perylene Violet make beautiful deep purples. 

I laid down the last layers. I noticed this flower has a matt surface of the petals, especially on those which make a triangular shape. I chose to use a white gouache with a little touch of Payne's Grey Bluish to make that matt surface.

And here it is, my first Sweet Pea. I'm going to paint another one tomorrow but I don't know yet which color to choose, there are so many colors of them!