At Avon Valley Artist's group this week, there was no specific subject. The programme had kept a blank space for members to finish any half painted work from previous weeks. As I always finish anything with potential, I had a completely free choice of what to paint.
The cherry blossom had been particularly spectacular again this year, so I used a photo to have another go at it. The flowers fade so quickly when cut, it seems a pity to bring it indoors, so I nearly always use a photo, as it is too cold in my north facing garden to sit and paint outdoors this early in the season.
I put on an initial wash onto a piece of 300gm paper, placing it where I thought the flowers would go, using Opera Rose and Quinachridone Magenta. (The paper on the RH side was left white, and the blue colour comes, I think, from shadows in the room when I took the photograph!)
When I was satisfied with the wash and it had completely dried, I added my drawing. By doing this on top of the wash it enables me to remove the pencil lines as I proceed. It does mean however, that I need to give careful thought to the placing of the original wash.
I started the painting by using stronger Quinachridone Magenta and various mixes of greens and golds to paint the negative background shapes around the flowers, being careful not to go over the pencil lines if I wanted to remove them. When I could see how the composition was progressing, I painted in the blossoms using lots more Pink, Magenta and Moonglow to give the petals form. I left quite a bit of the flowers white for the highlights, but was able to adjust this with White Acrylic Gouache. I also used this to wash out some of the edges of the petals to give the painting a bit more freedom.
As the flowers began to take shape, I started adding colour to the background, painting negative shapes to produce distant leaves and petals. The milky effect is created by dropping White Gouache into wet washes of Magenta, Indigo, Nickel Quinachridone and Apatite Green Genuine. I added some granulating fluid to produce some texture.
I finished painting the blossom, added the supporting branches and strengthened the background being careful to leave the RH side much lighter than the LH side. The final photograph is again a bit darker than the reality, not helped by the fact that the photo was taken after I had framed it. I added more White Acrylic Gouache to the edges of lots of the petals and washed the LH side of some of the blossoms with Moonglow to create shadows. Finally, as always, a good splatter of White Gouache to complete the painting.
'Cherry Blossom' 36cm x 26cm Watercolour
on Fabriano Artistico Extra White