Watercolour Flowers Week 6: Growing like Weeds

June 1, 2022

Poppies and Weeds in a Corn Field
a very free sketch!

This week’s challenge is to paint flowers that either spread like weeds or are arrivals from the wild, generally known as weeds! It’s very much your choice whether you paint them in situ; perhaps a sprinkling of buttercups and daisies in a patch of grass, rather like the poppies spangling the cornfield above, or at the other extreme make a delicate arrangement of your favourite visitors or freely spreading plants on one sheet of paper.

Either way, try to keep the colours clear and work some passages by wetting the water first before adding the colour and/or some wet in wet areas.

My welcome spreading friends!
Detail of above, showing how the Geraniums and Astrantia were painted
Dicentra and Forget-me-nots
Forget-me-nots grow everywhere and at most times of year in my garden. Here they were against a dark ground so were painted in gouache by adding Permanent white in varying amounts to Cerulean Blue and in some places to Cobalt Blue. The pale stems were painted in a similar way with mixed greens and white.

As ever the first background washes will be important for determining how you proceed. The Forget-me-nots above were painted in gouache over a dark ground. Do experiment with the strength of washes for the situation in your painting. For a lawn, blades of grass with a soft focus can be suggested with darker greens by deft brushstrokes into a wash while it is drying as in the right hand side of the image below. When the wash is dry more definite grasses and stems can be added wet on dry.

This meadow was painted in a similar way to the image heading this post except that white gouache was used with very free strokes to suggest a spangling of daisies.
Detail of the image above giving a better idea of how the gouache was added.

If you have buttercups, daisies, clover and other delights in your lawn you could paint them in a similar way to the meadow flowers above. After choosing your subject think about how you wish to represent any pale flowers against darker tones. If by lifting out, test how well the pigments selected for the painting work when lifting while still damp and also when dry. Staining pigments do not lift well when dry!

Painting around many small flowers often looks very laboured so it may be useful to reserve the white or pale areas with masking fluid.

If painting the white flowers with gouache, this is usually best applied when the paper is absolutely dry if crisp edges are required.

Lastly remember that Permanent White can be mixed with other watercolour paints to make them opaque so can be mixed with yellow for a scattering of buttercups or blues for Forget-me-nots against a dark ground. Again test the strength of the gouache mixes over a swatch of the colours they will be painted over in the final painting.

This should give some ideas for how to set about this week’s challenge. No one recipe will solve all the different challenges met in the freer kind of flower painting. The best way is just to experiment and explore the colours, mixing, layering, brushing and spattering etc. enjoying the journey and deciding on the best place to stop.

Your Paintings:

In the Garden
by Sandra
Gentle Invaders
by Virginia
Detail of Virginia’s painting with its delightful observation of
Herb Robert and Pink Clover

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