Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Rhododendrons in Sunlight

Continuing on the theme of trying to capture sunlight on petals, I thought I might have a go at this beautiful white Rhododendron that has just finished flowering in the garden. Needless to say, it was beautiful until we had a storm and very heavy rain and I am afraid it did not recover well. Thank goodness I did the photos before that happened!

I am not going to say a lot about the process, as I think the photos speak for themselves. I did the drawing on rough Fabriano Artistico extra white paper and used mainly Cobalt Blue and Alizarine Crimson for the flowers.
I started with a detailed drawing, but have to admit to losing my way with all the trumpet shapes, so quite a bit was 'made up'!

My apologies for the quality of the next 3 photos, but they were taken during the art session at AVA and I cannot work out what was reflecting so badly across the paper. I have tried to remove some of the violet haze, but I am not very computer savvy, so they are not brilliant. At this stage the background was all white. I did not do any preliminary washes before starting the flowers.
 I spent a lot of time thinking about the actual colour of the flowers. So little was really white, but I needed lots of white paper to give the bleached out areas where the sun caught them.

At this stage I started to add some leaves as this gave me the negative shapes of the flowers and helped me to keep track of where I was going. Even at this stage I was not sure if the shadow areas were strong and dark enough for the effect that I wanted. But it is really difficult to add overdark washes which you hope will dry paler, especially with very staining pigments. I can over paint more darks if I decide it need it.

I then stared filling in the background washes. Dark in the middle but much lighter around the edges as I did not want the painting to become too heavy (Remembering what happened with the Fatsia leaves!) For these areas I used pale washes of blues, yellows and blue/greys with a little QuinachridoneGold. I also used this colour with Burnt Umber for the stems.

I finished by adding more leaves around the painting, leaving small patches of sunlight.

The painting looks quite bright on the screen, but by comparison to the previous Clematis painting, it does lack a bit of contrast, so as usual, I will live with it in the studio for a few days to see if I need to darken some of the shadows.


  1. Have just found your blog via Pinterest. Some really beautiful florals Yvonne.

  2. Thank you Sonia. I hope there will be things you like in the future. Thank you for the lovely comment.

  3. I stumbled across your blog by accident. It's fabulous. Your generous photos of works in progress are a real help to us novice watercolourists, thanks!

    1. Thank you Pricilla. I am delighted that you find it helpful. I am just sorry that I do not always have the time to post more frequently.