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.
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.