Sunday, November 12, 2023

Anatomy of a Painting


Dahlia in Golden Gate Park
10" x 10" watercolor
Arches 100% cotton cold press

I've been taking an online course from Canadian watercolor artist Marney Ward. If you check out her web site, you'll see why I'm dissatisfied with this painting. My goal was to learn how to paint with the kind of luminosity she achieves. Her flowers positively glow right off the paper. 

This flower...does not quite do that. 

She had us start with a somewhat detailed drawing, and then work first on the background. Here's my start, below. At this point I was thinking anything was possible--a very heady feeling! 

She then advised working petal by petal around the flower. I quickly realized I was getting carried away with stripes (see just below). Now I was thinking, "Dang, I'm messing it up." 

It helped to cover some of the petals in blue (see very top), to cause them to recede for some depth and to call less attention to all those stripes. 

But that version (see just below) still didn't glow like a Marney Ward painting. And my the colors veered too far into the blue territory. I hadn't kept enough pink for warmth. I felt I'd failed the painting entirely.

So I added more pink:

And then even brighter pinks and yellows here and there (same as top image):

I'm calling it finished, but it still does not sing like a Marney Ward painting.'s back to the drawing board, but probably with a different reference photo. 

(Here's the photo I was working from:) 

All in all, four days' intensive work just to yield a "Meh" painting. 

But I've learned some things that maybe will help the next one. 

This watercolor learning curve is mighty roller coaster-y, but it's still quite fun. 

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