Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Cyclamen studies

I cannot stress enough how much I love the Botanical Sketchbook by Mary Ann Scott and Margaret Stevens. This is truly my favourite book about botanical painting. It doesn't teach how to paint (like excellent Billy Showell's books) but it is so inspiring for me that it's even hard to describe. I look into this book almost every day just to admire those beautiful sketches inside. Every time I discover something new and every time I'm as much amazed as I was when I first opened this book. 

Mary Ann's book inspired me to set up my own sketchbook. I already have a sketchbook - Stillman and Birn (Zeta series). I use it for many purposes, including botanical studies, but I decided to make my own sketchbook, dedicated only for botanical studies, with Fabriano Artistico paper, as it is my favourite hot pressed paper to paint on. I don't know how to join the sheets yet, I'm still thinking how to do this in a simple way and so that I could add or remove sheets in the future. I'll be working on it.

But meanwhile I just took a piece of Fabriano paper and painted some studies of Cyclamen I bought the other day.


The petals of the flower are very pale pink. I was tempted to use Opera Rose here, but I eventually decided to check whether Permanent Rose PV19 would match. And it did. For lighter shadows I used Ultramarine Violet PV15 with a touch of Permanent Rose.


In certain areas on the petals I added a bit of Quinacridone Magenta PR122 to Permanent Rose to make the color more vibrant. The lower part of the flowers are more violet. I used Quinacridone Magenta + Ultramarine Violet. 


For the darkest shadows I used mix of French Ultramarine PB29 + Burnt Sienna PR101 and I added to it Ultramarine Violet. For the stem I used Perylene Maroon PR179 + Burnt Umber PBr7. To make it darker I added Ultramarine Violet. 

The most tricky were the leaves. I have to work on them much more. Each leaf has a bit different shade of green. For the leaves I used many colors, different mixes for each leaf. I tried to avoid Permanent Sap Green as a base, but it became handy here to make reach dark green. 


Making these studies was a great fun. My Cyclamen is still alive and I'll make more studies of it. There are also other treasures which are waiting for their turn. I wish I had more time for it. 




Saturday, 6 February 2016

Hazelnuts video and other tidbits

A couple of days ago I bought some hazelnuts. Surprisingly, not for eating. My friend laughed at me because it was so obvious (to me) I was going to paint them that I didn't even think I could eat them. Ohh.. something's not right...

Anyway, hazelnuts turned out to be great practice. 


I made a short video showing how I was painting them:


I also did a little color chart with my browns. I'm going to make a lot more of these as I found it not only very relaxing, but also useful for the future reference. In this chart I mixed my four browns: Gold Ochre (PY42), Burnt Sienna (PR101), Raw Umber (PBr7) and Burnt Umber (PBr7). 

I was also inspired by two books. The first one was Exotic Botanical Illustration by Rosie Martin and Meriel Thurstan. In the book the authors shows an idea for making color charts which I really like. They suggest to paint two rows of squares. The first raw is a range of two colors mixed together and the second row is the same range, but more diluted. 

The second book was The Modern Flower Painter by Anna Mason. On page 7 I saw a beautiful painting of beige magnolia. I was wondering how she achieved this wonderful color and I found the answer on another page: Using burnt sienna as the base for beige will give a red-tinged beige. On occasion you might want a less red beige. In these cases, try mixing yellow ochre and burnt sienna for another great neutral mix. Simple as that! This is another reason why it's good to get to know our paints better. The easiest solution is sometimes so close!


So I got this color chart with browns. I haven't finished yet. There will be many more charts. I'm going to mix my browns with other colors and see what I can get. It was so relaxing to paint this, I could spend a whole day on doing it.

Speaking about the colors I also wrote a short pdf file with everything about the colors on my watercolor palette. Maybe not everything, but some essential things. It's the answer for a frequently asked question about the colors on my palette. If you are interested you can download the pdf file here.


I feel spring in the air. In shops spring flowers start to show up. I've recently bought yellow narcissus, hyacinth and beautiful tulips. Great treasures to paint!