Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Echium and Melitaea, part 6

I finished a chrysalis of Melitaea didyma.

On a piece of paper I mixed white tempera with Indigo. I used this mix to add some highlights, which are barely visible. I also add pure white tempera to add clear white highlight spots.

Echium and Melitaea, part 5

Another stage finished. I managed to finish the left part of the butterfly and paint the caterpillar on the green leaves. In the next photos you can see my steps.

Here you can see already finished butterfly and the first stage of painting the caterpillar. I laid the first layer of oranges and grays. In the last photo you will see my sketchbook with colors that I used to paint the caterpillar. I started with the lightest colors, then I added blacks. 

This caterpillar was very time-consuming. All these wonderful dark patterns had to be painted very precisely. At this stage I realised that I can't finished this caterpillar. On it's body there are hundreds of little black hairs or spines. If I painted them now I wouldn't be able to paint the leaves around, because I could damage the spines, I could smudge them while painting leaves. That's why I had to paint leaves first and then come back to paint the spines. 

When the leaves were done I could go back to add those spines. And here it is!

Here's my sketchbook. I tested the colors for the caterpillar. I was sure I would use Translucent Orange (PO71) as it just matched here ideally. But I had to make it more sunny, so I added Hansa Yellow Deep (PY65). I would love to use here my old New Gamboge here (PY153) but unfortunately I don't have it anymore, and new New Gamboge is not made of PY153.
I also had to use some grays and it was easy decision, I just used Ultramarine Blue (PB29) with Burnt Sienna (PR101). They make perfect gray. There was also another color, quite strange and hard to call, something like very light brown, but gray at the same time. I mixed it using my gray and adding Naples Yellow Deep (PBr24). And for my blacks I used my great black which I mentioned about several times earlier: Perylene Green (PBk31) + Pyrrol Crimson (PR264).

Sketchbook once again

One more time let's take a closer look at my sketchbook. 
1. For the blues I used mostly Cobalt Blue (PB28) Winsor&Newton and Indanthrene Blue (PB60) Winsor&Newton. In some parts the flowers are a little bit turquise, so I mixed Phthalo Blue Green Shade (PB15:3) Daniel Smith with Winsor Green Blue Shade (PG7) Winsor Green to get beautiful turquoise.
2. For the greens I used mostly mix of Phthalo Bue Green Shade (PB15:3) Daniel Smith with Quinacridone Gold (PO49) Daniel Smith. In darker parts I was adding Perylene Green (PBk31) Daniel Smith (and less Phthalo Blue). Sometimes to neutralize the greens more and make them even more olive green I was adding Transucent Orange (PO71) Schmincke Horadam.
3. For the butterfly I used mix of Pyrrol Crimson (PR264) Daniel Smith with Translucent Orange (PO71) Schmincke Horadam.
4. I discovered my black while painting the leaves. I mixed Perylene Green (PBk31) Daniel Smith with Pyrrol Crimson (PR264) Daniel Smith and I got perfect black. I used it to paint butterfliy's wings, but I also added Indigo (PBk6, PV19, PB15) Winsor&Newton to that mix, to make it a little bit more bluish.

Echium and Melitaea, part 4

Today I painted one element. I wanted to start from the very top again, so from the butterfly, but I still have my greens on the palette, and I thought it would be better to use them. 

I had a lot of fun painting this element, because it's very hairy. I reeeeaaalllly like plants with hairs. Somehow hairs add something special to the painting, they create really interesting texture. When I look at this one I would like to touch those hairs, they seem to be very soft. Nice effect.

The next day I finished a half of the butterfly. For the black I used color, which I accidentally discovered couple of days ago. It's a mix of Perylene Green (PBk31) + Pyrrol Crimson (PR264) = great black. But here I also added some Indigo, to make this mix a little bit more bluish.

Echium and Melitaea, part 3. Perfect black

Here are my pages in the sketchbook. I was testing greens today. Eventually I decided to use Phthalo Blue + Quinacridone Gold as my base green. It makes wonderful sap green color. I also added Perylene Green to that mix and sometimes Translucent Orange to neutralize that green and make it more olive. 
And now here's another tip. Accidentally I discovered a perfect black color today. I wanted to neutralize a little bit Perylene Green and I added Pyrrol Crimson to it. I ended up with just perfect black. I know Perylene Green itself is a black pigment (PBk31), but we know it's very dark green. With Pyrrol Crimson (PR264) it makes complete black.

One element finished.


Echium and Melitaea, part 2.

It's been quite a busy day today (including going to the cinema with my friend to see "Ricki and the Flash" with one and only Meryl Streep [she plays with her daughter in this movie]) so I haven't done much really. I finished blue flowers, I added stamens and indicated pink buds.

Here you can see two pages from my sketchbook. I test the colors on the left side, and on the right side I have those which I used in the painting.

Here is a close up and a little tip. I try to mix my own blacks (not because there is a rule "don't use black paint in watercolor", but just because I very, very rarely need black color, so there no need for me to buy this color as I always manage to mix it by myself). There are many ways to mix blacks. You can mix your three primaries. Two bottom rows on the left show blacks mixed with cool primaries and warm primaries. You can also exchange your colors, use two cool primaries and one warm or any other combination. Just play with colors. Three primaries mixed together gives you also obviously a rage of grays (diluted blacks), which are called botanical grays.
Another way to make black is to mix blue with brown. Ultramarine blue mixed with Burnt Sienna gives you great black, but even better gray. I chose to mix Indanthrene Blue with Burnt Umber. This mix gave me quite a strong black which I used to paint the ends of the stemens.

I painted the upper green part. I haven't finished yet, because I have to add some white hairs using white gouache or watercolor, but I don't have it. My old gouache is too old to use it and I have to buy a new one. In this photo you can see my slow progress. Here I also have a tip. Sometimes yellow underpainting can give additional vibrancy to the leaves. Here I used Hansa Yellow Medium as a first wash. Then, when it was completely dry, I was adding next layers of my greens. Thanks to that yellow underpainting greens are more vibrant.

New botanical project, part 1.

I started a new botanical project about a week ago. I was asked to paint several paintings which would refer to the art of Maria Sibylla Merian - German entomologist and artist who lived in XVII/XVIII century. My paintings will be exhibitet in a hall dedicated to Maria during Museum at Nights 2016 event, in Library of Polish Academy of Sciences in GdaƄsk. I am very excited, because it will be the first time I will exhibit my paintings.

I noticed that Maria's works depict plants and life cycles of specific insects and others, but mostly butterflies. In my first project I decided to paint Echium vulgare and show the life cycle of Melitaea didyma, including chrysalis (pupa) stage, larva (caterpillar) stage and imago (adult butterfly) stage.

My first stage was drawing the outlines on the tracing paper.

Having my drawings on the tracing paper I could cut out every shape and this way I was able to move every piece around to make a composition which I was happy with. At this stage I rejected two leaves, because the composition was too busy and I didn't have space to place them. This photo shows my first concept of the composition, but eventually I ended up with something a little bit different.

This is my final composition. This photo is manipulated to show you the pencil drawing. 

Here is the close-up of the pencil drawing.

First washes on Echium vulgare.

Azaleas (video) and paper tests

It's been a long time since I wrote my last post. But I am back. I have painted quite a lot of paintings since the last time, but not many of them can be categorized as botanical art. They all are just floral paintings. 
But among them there are two botanicals. Both of them depict Azalea flower. I painted them after a long break and I had a lot of fun! Especially when I was painting pink Azalea I felt that this was something that I just love doing - painting in botanical style.

Both of these painting were at the same time tests of new papers. The first one was Moulin du Roy HP. Unfortunately, I have to admit that it was very difficult for me to paint on it. It reminds me Arches Hot Press paper. They are very similar and both very challenging. The biggest problem I had with softening the edges and glazing. While applying another layer I was lifting the previous one, which was quite annoying. Instead of easily softening the edges I was getting blooms all the time. Never again and I don't recommend this paper.

Violet Azalea on Moulin du Roy HP paper
My second Azalea I is painted on Saunders Waterford HP paper. It's magnificent! Finally I have found a good HP paper which comes in blocks. Earlier I was using Fabriano Artistico HP, which in my country comes only in sheets, which I don't like (but I still like Fabriano Artistico). Saunders Waterford is just excellent. Glazing and softening the edges are really easy. This paper keeps colors vivid and bright. I had no problems with it and it became my favourite paper for botanical art now. The only drawback with this paper is that it's slightly more difficult to lift the paint. But it's not impossible. For some it can be drawback, for others not necessarily. I do recommend this paper!

Pink Azalea on Saunders Waterford HP paper
I also made a video while painting the last azalea, so if you like you can watch it below. Enjoy! :)