Watercolours: Purple Petunias (demonstration)

When I received some purple Schmincke watercolour half pans as a gift from a friend in Italy, I decided it would be fun to use them in a floral painting where I’d have an excuse to use lots of different violets. This petunia painting is based on a photo by Sei Nakatugawa in the Photos for Artists Facebook group.

Schmincke Watercolours:
-Permanent Chinese White
-Lemon Yellow
-Purple Magenta
-Quinacridone Magenta
-Quinacridone Purple
-Cobalt Blue Hue
-Phthalo Green
-Payne’s Grey
-Mars Black

Jackson’s Raven synthetic mop size 10/0
Escoda Grafilo Kolinsky Tamyr size 4
Isabey Kolinsky Sable Round size 3/0
Princeton Neptune Liner size 1

Hahnemühle Agave Watercolour Paper – 290gsm Cold Press (80 X 105mm)

Step 1

For the sake of clarity, I will refer to the flowers in the drawing as Flower 1, Flower 2 etc (starting from the top) down to Flower 5 (the bottom). After drawing the outline, mix a very weak wash of Cobalt Violet Hue and colour some of the slightly shadowy areas on all the flowers, leaving a few of the highlighted areas pure white (especially on Flower 4). For the darker sections of Flowers 1, 3 and 5, use a darker wash of the same colour, and then go over it again with Mauve. Using Mauve again and a smaller brush, indicate the dark centres of the flowers where visible, as well as some of the most prominent veins.

Step 2
For sections of the underside of Flower 1 and the tips of the outer petals on Flower 3, put in a light wash of Quinacridone Magenta, blending this into another wash of Cobalt Violet Hue. Let it dry, and then do the same thing again, darkening and strengthening the colours where necessary (make sure to leave some areas pale). Mix some Lemon Yellow with a small amount of Phthalo Green and colour in the leaves and foliage behind the petunias. With a strong mix of Mauve (very little water), darken the very centre of the petunias. Wait for the flowers and foliage to dry completely, and then lay in a wash of Paynes Grey over the background.

Step 3
Using Quinacridone Magenta, Mauve and Cobalt Violet Hue and a very fine brush, paint the lines in for the base of Flowers 1 and 2, keeping the mixes light (if you make them too dark, you can use Permanent Chinese White to go over them and lighten them a bit). With varying mixes of the four purples/violets, add in more layers on the flowers, making sure to vary the colouring of each flower (ie. keep Flower 4 the lightest, while Flowers 1 and 3 should be the darkest). Also make sure that the centre of each flower remains the darkest point. Vary the foliage as well, adding another layer to the greens using Burnt Umber in some of the darker sections and more yellows and greens in the lighter sections. Go over the background with another layer of Payne’s Grey with some Mars Black added in, blending the leaves on the right so they fade into the darkness.

Step 4
With strong mixtures of the purples/violets and a fine brush (a small size liner if you have one), paint in the ‘veins’ in the flowers. Take your time with this, making the central vein for each petal the thickest and darkest with the others being thinner and gradually feathering outwards. You may need to blend these into the outside of the flower centres, adding some Payne’s Grey to the flower centres if necessary to darken them further. Mix some Mars Black with Phthalo Green and Purple Magenta to create a rich neutral dark and wash this over the background. You may need to let it dry and then go over it with another layer if the first wash isn’t dark enough. At this point I also used a light glaze of Permanent Chinese White on the darkest flower (Flower 3) just to bring back some of the highlighted areas I’d lost. Finally, I mix Permanent Chinese White with some of the leftover purple mixture and sign my name in the bottom right.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little painting project, as much as I’ve enjoyed painting it; it’s been a while since I’ve done any art. As always, if you don’t have the exact colours I’ve listed here, you can use the most similar colours you already have in your own palette.

Happy painting!

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