Oct 15, 2010

Water Color Basics: A Cosmos Flower

Watercolor Demo: wet in wet, wet on Dry: Cosmos Flower
by Hsuan-Chi Chen

In this demonstration, I am going to show you a couple of the same principles as the last watercolor demonstration. Those techniques are the wet-in-wet and wet-on-dry techniques of watercolor painting.  Mastering these two basic techniques, you can create form and color variation, control the paint better, and achieve a whole lot more with watercolor. 

1. Sketch: Start by lightly drawing out the sketch with an HB or lighter graphite pencil.

2. Coloring the center of the flower with yellow: Since yellow requires clean water, I start with the yellow color, and I paint the bottom of the center with a slightly darker yellow. Then, I let it dry completely before I do anything further to prevent run-off.

3.  Painting the petals:

The Cosmos petal has a kind of stripy texture on it, so I use the wet-in-wet technique first to indicate the light area, the shadow, and the texture of the petal.

a.  Take this petal, for example, I wet the area with clean water.
b.   While it is wet, I apply the light pink on the petal and leave the light side of the petal not painted.
c.   While it is still wet, I apply the magenta to the end of the petal that is closest to the center of the flower.

Paint one petal at a time, I wait for the petals to dry before I paint any petal to next to them.

Images for these steps are below:

I have some petals done in the image to the right, and you can get an idea of what you can achieve from this wet-in-wet technique. It gives the petals a little texture and a nice soft pink tone.

After I finish all the petals, I wait for them to completely dry.

4. The second layer on the petals (wet-on-dry): After it’s completely dry, I apply a layer of light pinkish purple to exaggerate the texture of the petals a little bit more.

Take this petal, for example, I have highlighted the area that I applied the second layer of paint.

When the second layer is finished, you can see the flower has more depth now.

5. Detail touch-up`: Use the wet-on-dry technique to finish the center of the flower and paint the cast shadow of the petals. For the center part of the flower, I apply dots of darker yellow to indicate the form. 

We are finished Finished! Painting in watercolor needs both patience and practice. You need the patience to let the paper completely dry before you do the next step. Practice for the wet-in-wet technique, because it takes some time to figure it out. The more you do it, the more you will be able to use this technique and know what wet-in-wet can bring to your painting.