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Watercolor Coneflowers with Wet-in-Wet Painting


Supplies you will need:

1) Palette with watercolor tube paints including a yellow, blue and red.  In this demonstration, I use Winsor Newton (WN) Quinacridone gold and WN Cerulean blue.  In the alternate study, WN French ultramarine and Daniel Smith (DS) Alizarin Crimson.  Any yellow and blue will work; red is optional.

2) No.six round watercolor paint brush or round brush of your choosing

3) Two containers of water, one for rinsing and one to load brush with clean water

4) Watercolor paper

5) Tissue or paper towel for blotting


Coneflowers have a distinctive shape with daisy-like petals that droop.  How deeply the petals droop depends on the stage of the flower's maturity.  This characteristic makes them good subjects for loose painting.  By that, I mean watery painting with less concern about detail, a chance to relax and really enjoy the qualities of watercolor.  


White flowers are particularly fun to paint.  "White" in a watercolor painting is the lightest color/value in your painting.  Since white flower petals generally reflect the colors around them, they offer a fun opportunity to play with wet-in-wet painting in two ways, letting the colors blend on the paper and using a brush stroke of water to carry diluted pigment into the petals.  I'll show you what I mean.

On dry paper, paint the top edge of a coneflower head shape, as shown below.  I used WN quinacridone gold.


Rinse your brush.  Using the second container, load your brush with clean water.  Brush clean water along the edge of the painted area, allowing the pigment to spread and bringing it down to form the shape of the flower head, as shown below.  Leaving a little white suggests the reflection of light. 

If you are new to watercolor, it will take some experimenting to learn how much water to use.  Brushes hold different amounts of water, so practice helps you to get to know the qualities of your brush, as well as, the amount of water you want to use.  More water means lighter paint.  Paint also appears lighter when dry than when wet.  


While the area is still wet, drop in some cerulean blue (or another blue of your choice) along the bottom edge of the cone shape.


Rinse your brush and load it with clean water, again.  Touching the bottom edge of the cone shape, paint a petal with clear water taking your brush stroke downward as shown below.  Pigment will flow into the water that is brushed onto the paper.  Tilt your paper if needed to assist the paint's movement.  Allow drips to happen.


Continue to create petal shapes with brush strokes of water.  I enjoy the surprise of this technique and the richness of the color that is created when pigment is dropped into wet pigment on paper.  The cerulean blue and quinacridone gold blend to create a nice green, similiar to the underlying color seen at the base of the tiny orange blossoms on a coneflower head. 


In the next study, I dropped WN French ultramarine and a touch of DS Alizarin Crimson along the bottom edge of the cone shape.


Below you see the results.


Experiment with more coneflower studies and enjoy the effects of dropping color into wet color and allowing the water to do your painting.  This is a fun way to get to know the qualities of watercolor.


For more watercolor demonstrations, visit my watercolor blog:  Vickie's Sketchbook

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