Thursday, April 16, 2009

Hollyhocks...


Hollyhocks, 12" x 28"
watercolor

It's a little early in the year for hollyhocks, but I promised Rhonda I'd share some of the details of creating this painting -- so these are blooming out of season!! This particular bunch of plants was growing on a traffic island at a normally busy intersection. I happened upon them on a quiet Sunday morning when the morning light was just right and traffic was nil, so I could take a lot of photos without worrying about being run over!!

I ran the image through Photoshop to enhance the contrast, then copied a section of the hollyhocks from the right side of my resource photo and pasted it over a weak section on the left edge of the photo before cropping the image to the narrow vertical format I'd chosen for the painting. After creating a drawing, I traced it onto my watercolor paper, then stretched the paper.


Hollyhocks, detail

Once it was dry and the borders were taped to keep the margins clean, I started the labor-intensive task of masking anything that wasn't going to be pink or so dark that the pink would be hidden. That included the whites (obviously!!), the bright greens, and the blues. When the masking was dry, I poured lemon yellow, permanent rose, and phthalo blue in fairly dilute mixtures and allowed the colors to mingle on the paper. After that dried, I began direct brushwork, controlling the blends and enhancing certain parts of the flowers with wet-into-wet painting. Before I removed the masking, I painted the dark background.

Removing the masking as I worked, I started at the top of the paper -- painting in the details and giving form to all the elements. I carried the blue from the sky into the shadows at the bottom of the painting and toned the whites where needed to push things into the background. It was a long process, but the end results were worth it.

33 comments:

  1. This was absolutely worth it - so much planning and staging that created this gorgeous painting. When you open it larger, it's like walking into the sunshine. And my first thought when seeing it smaller in thumbnail size was this" The sign of a true artist is what he/she does with the negative shapes in the painting. And it shows in this one, Chris :) Thanks for sharing.

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  2. Chris,
    I blog hopped and found your site and am glad that I did.:-))
    This is beautiful!! I so admire competent watercolor painters, because I have found the medium extremely unforgiving to work with myself. My choice is oil.
    The sharing of your process is priceless,and yes..it was more than worth it !! Thank you.
    Best regards.

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  3. I have a feeling that this painting captures their true beauty better than any photo could. SPLENDID. Thanks a bunch for your detailed explanation, too. Art's SO MUCH FUN!

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  4. Love this! I'm a big fan of hollyhocks and you really captured the sunlight.

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  5. Thanks, Rhonda! I really like your analogy about walking into the sunshine!! By the time I finish something like this, I've been so immersed in the details of painting it that I can't see the "big picture" -- so to speak!!

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  6. Thanks, Cathyann! I'm glad you happened to hop over and liked what you found!!

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  7. Thanks, Sandy! The original photo was actually pretty bland -- nearly white flowers and a lot of visual junk in the cropped-off section. I love the planning stages of a painting because there are so many options -- the creative effort involved in choosing the combination that best gets your idea into final form is totally enjoyable.

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  8. Thanks, Nartizt! As a kid, I especially loved hollyhocks because you could take an open flower and a bud and put them together to make a lovely "lady" with a full-skirted gown! Now I like them for their dramatic height and great clusters of flowers.

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  9. Really amazing work, Chris. Thanks so much for the detailed description of your process. I usually get such sharp edges when I remove miskit, I gave up on it. You've got such a gorgeous mix of hard and soft edges, and beautiful shadow areas. Love it!!

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  10. Thanks, Liz! I usually do a lot of work on edges to soften them, but in this case I was trying to get a very sharp-focus quality so I left many of them alone.

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  11. Truly stunning! The light, the colors, the contrasts, the composition....WOW!

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  12. You know Chris, when I see work like this in watercolour I get so inspired to give the wc's a go. But when I get down to it I lack the patience. Until I get it together I'll let other people like yourself continue to inspire me.

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  13. Thanks, Alvin. Your appreciation of my work is very welcome. I admire your work also.

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  14. Hi April -- and I'll let you inspire me with your fabulous stone paintings!! I don't think you're lacking in patience, but each of us has some preference for a certain medium, and watercolor is definitely mine.

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  15. Definitely worth it, I'd say! Wonderful colors, fantastic light, and the format of the painting really plays up those all hollyhocks!

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  16. Thanks, Diahn. Glad you like it!

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  17. I agree with Rhonda - sunny - and spectacular. Thanks for the explanation of your technique also.

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  18. Oh my gosh. I thought this was a photo. Simply breathtaking! I was just posting on another blog about how hard it is to capture that ethereal quality of flowers and you did it perfectly. (I'm pushing my jaw back into place now.)

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  19. Thanks, Deb and Gwen!! I'm pleased that my work pleased you!!

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  20. Oh.My.Gosh. My mouth is hanging open. I really thought that was a photo! You are amazing! What a gorgeous painting.

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  21. Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment, Jane!! I'm glad you like the painting.

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  22. This takes my breath away. Gorgeous.

    (Thanks also for the nice side note on the shoulder stuff.)

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  23. Thanks, R. And you're welcome -- for the shoulder info.

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  24. First... it's gorgeous..

    then... what a fascinating description of your process.. I've not gotten much into watercolor but always much admire those who have such mastery over such a difficult and beautiful medium!!
    Glad I dropped by!

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  25. Thanks for stopping in and leaving a comment, Marian. Glad you liked what you found!!

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  26. This Hollyhock painting is so full of sunshine - I saw it and loved it immediately. Absolutely a fantastic watercolor painting.

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  27. Thanks, Doris!! You paint such wonderful flowers yourself!! Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment.

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  28. What I liked in particular about this is how you handled the green buds and the center of each hollyhock. These are the parts that are tempting to pay less attention to, but the fact that you have these components very convincing spatially is part of why it's such a great painting.

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  29. Thanks, Mona! I appreciate that you took the time to look so closely at the painting and thanks for leaving a comment.

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  30. Chris!

    Amazing sense of light on the hollyhocks. The petals appear to glow in some spots. Great job with that!

    Very realistic looking too, which is hard to achieve using only watercolors. Impressive.

    The long, skinny rectangle shape of the painting just adds to the charm of this piece.

    -Dean

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  31. Hi Chris, I always have to look at this Hollyhock, it is so beautiful. But I already said it. Georgeous Painting.

    On what you are working now?
    Just one note: I have closed my Roses blog and I am now posting only on my regular website/blog. Maybe you want to follow me there? :)
    Have posted something new today.

    I am looking forward to see more of your work Chris.

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