Flowers in Watercolor and Colored Pencil | A Step-by-Step

Playing with the picture plane, Karen Anne Klein composes imaginative arrangements of the natural world’s precise patterns and dynamic abundance in watercolor and colored pencil. Her work is featured in the January/February 2012 issue of The Artist’s Magazine. Here, she provides a step-by-step demonstration of Black Tulip and Peony (above; watercolor and colored pencil, 19.5×13.5) in this free article.

painting with watercolor

.

Dynamic Definition With Watercolor and Colored Pencil: A Step-by-Step Demonstration
By Karen Anne Klein

A black flower is dramatic and, contrasted with a specimen that is fragile and pink, seems even more compelling. In Black Tulip and Peony, the butterfly resting between the tulip and the peony is a swallowtail, which combines properties of both flowers. The butterfly’s dark color lends it some mystery, but its construction is delicate, and we know its life is brief.


Keep the Underdrawing Visible
1. When depicting a complex subject that’s essentially one color, I lay in watercolor in small sections to keep the structure of the underdrawing visible, as those sections usually dry with at least slight differences in color. If the color doesn’t demark areas well enough at this point, then I can add definition and retain the structure of the drawing using colored pencils. Keeping the watercolor simple makes adding the colored pencil on top easier and gives me more control over what the final image will look like.

.


2. I use paper with a nice tooth to catch the color of the pencil. But the tooth can be annoying when I want to create an area of dense color because I need to press very hard to fill in all the little white divits. Pressing hard can apply so much waxy color to the paper that it’s difficult to work back over it. That’s one reason I like to apply watercolor first. Only small amounts of colored pencil are required to construct the details of the subject when drawing over a surface that’s already covered with watercolor.

.


3. Some colors look dead on a dark surface, but most colors are surprisingly effective. Light colors can be used to their greatest advantage as highlights when placed on a dark surface, as shown in the way I defined the individual tulip petals in this step. The overall depiction of a dark object can be very lively as a result.

.


4. The fragile pink peony, which I added as the second element in the composition, was available for only one day before a strong rain. Working on the butterfly next would have been logical, but I had no specimen at hand, so I reserved the space. Keeping the flower delicate and light was far more challenging than working on the black tulip. I worked over the defining colors with white pencil, which blended the colors and made them smooth and soft.

.


5. At this point the structure of the drawing took on greater definition as I constructed in graphite a rectangle divided into two parts behind the peony and tulip and extending below them. I’ve made the lines darker in this image so you can see the two boxes. After establishing the central focus of the drawing, I selected the pink and striped black petunias as anchors for the top and bottom of the composition. My idea was to create a solid color in the top half of the rectangle and a more loosely delineated bottom half, composed of stems and leaves.

.


6. Adding black to the top, square portion of the rectangle immediately made the pink peony glow more strongly. The tulip and black petunia seemed to gain even more strength and mystery. And the lower section of the drawing immediately looked looser and more delicate compared to the solidity of the top.

.


7. After I finished a few areas in the bottom of the composition and refined others overall, my drawing Black Tulip and Peony (watercolor and colored pencil, 19.5×13.5) was complete.

.

Michigan artist Karen Anne Klein has a master’s degree from Wayne State University, in Detroit. Her work can be found in collections across the country, including those of the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, Carnegie Mellon University, in Pittsburgh; the Museum of Modern Art, in New York; and the University of Michigan Museum of Art, in Ann Arbor. Klein has released a number of limited-edition books, and her paintings have been exhibited at such venues as the University of Michigan Exhibit Museum of Natural History, in Ann Arbor; the Chicago Botanic Garden, in Glencoe, Illinois; and the Salmagundi Club, in New York City. For more information, visit the artist’s website, www.kaklein.com, and her blog, roomforcuriosity.blogspot.com.

.


painting with watercolor
Free artistsnetwork.tv preview

Click here to watch a preview of the video “Improve Your Water Painting Techniques in Watercolor with Gordon Mackenzie.”


MORE RESOURCES FOR ARTISTS

Watch art workshops on demand at ArtistsNetwork.TV

Online seminars for fine artists

Instantly download fine art magazines, books, videos & more

Sign up for your Artist’s Network email newsletter & receive a FREE ebook

 

You may also like these articles:

COMMENT