Friday, 13 September 2013

Masses of Tiny Flowers : Asters

I regularly have delivered a gardening magazine, Gardens Illustrated, which provides me with lots of inspiration for the paintings I produce. I came across this wonderful picture of a pot of Asters, which got me thinking of a) wanting to paint it and b) how on earth does one reproduce such a mass of flowers together in one pot !

I spent some time thinking about how to set about the task, and I remembered reading about how Nita Engle described a method of painting massed conifer trees in her book 'How To Make A Watercolour Paint Itself'
She used a piece of mount board to create a 'stamp' which she used repeatedly in the area she needed the trees and it was incredibly successful ! (Yes, I know they all make it look so easy in their books !)

I thought it would be worth a try, so I cut up a piece of scrap mount board and made myself a very simple daisy stamp.

First of all, I cut out the daisy shape, in quite a random design, as I thought the less formal the shape, the more natural it would seem, especially when rotated through varying degrees. I then stuck this down onto another square of card, and when it was dry, I attached a paper handle to the underside to make the printing easier.

I painted a piece of 300g watercolour paper with a suitable coloured background, keeping it quite pale. I added a little salt around the edges to produce a bit of texture, and I used the edge of a piece of mount board dipped in strong watercolour paint in various colours to produce the multitude of stems coming out of the pot.

I then used the daisy stamp to print the flowers. I started with a mid tone blue/lilac and simply painted the stamp and pressed it onto the paper. As each colour dried, I either lightend or darkened the colours until I had what I thought was a realistic bunch.

I did use lots of acrylic gouache in order to paint light over dark, and the final layer was painted totally with the white gouache on the stamp to produce some highlights.When the flowers were dry, I added their bright orange and yellow centres, being careful not to make the circles too uniform.

I finally needed to darken the centre of the painting which was a bit of a chore, but I felt it was necessary, so I mixed a few dark greens and carefully painted around some of the central flowers and between the stems.

As this was only an experimental piece, I did not pay too much attention to the pot, which I now regret as I think the painting works better than I had hoped.

                                                                  'Asters'  32 x 42 cms

                                   Watercolour and Acrylic Gouache on Fabriano Artistico
                                                          Extra White 300 gm Rough

The end result is perhaps not as accomplished as it could be, but I am pleased enough with the outcome, to think that there is considerable mileage in the process and I will be surely having another go to see if it can be refined. Added to which, of course, it was great fun to do !


  1. I think you should be really proud of this work, it is so awesome ! I wouldn't have known where to begin, but thanks to your tips maybe now I would :-) Beautiful, beautiful work !

  2. Thanks Jane. I did not know where to begin, but I suppose my love of playing with paper and paint helped find a solution. I am glad you like the end result.

  3. I've never heard of this technique. It turned out beautiful, including the pot.

    1. Glad you enjoyed the process. Its easy to make the stamp so worth having a go. Happy painting

  4. Wonderful explanation and pics of your technique. This really inspires me to try something new. Wish I could post the result of my efforts when I do.