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To add depth and interest Rose used blue’s color harmonies in the leaves and flowers. Retaining the light and whites, particularly in the pots, makes the glaze seem to sparkle. Plan for these areas in your sketch, and remember that you can always touch up areas toward the end of the process if necessary. Let’s get started.

What You’ll Need

P i g m e n ts

Antwerp Blue, Cadmium Orange, Cerulean Blue, Cobalt Blue, Cobalt Violet, Indigo, Permanent Magenta, Permanent Rose, Quinacridone Gold, Scarlet Lake, Winsor Yellow

S u rf a c e

140-lb. (300gsm) cold-pressed watercolor paper

B r u sh e s

2-inch (51mm) hake, no. 4 rigger, no. 16 or 18 round

O th e r

Eraser, masking fluid, paper towels, pencil, rubber cement pickup, ruler, salt, spray bottle filled with water, toothbrush

Reference Photos

I took several reference photos that day to capture the nuances of the light and color in the pots.

Thumbnail Sketch

I took some artistic liberties and moved the pots around to make a more pleasing composition. Thumbnail sketches are a great way to work out ideas like this so you have a firm idea of what your composition will look like.

1Sketch the Composition and Establish the Dark Flowers

Lightly draw your composition on watercolor paper with a pencil, using a grid if you wish. Carefully sketch the reflections on the pot. Closely examine the reference photos to determine the location of the white and light areas. With a no. 16 or 18 round, apply Cobalt Blue, Cobalt Violet and Indigo to the dark flowers and the shadow areas in the foliage. Let this dry.

2Apply Masking Fluid and Build the Foliage

Use the no. 4 rigger to apply masking fluid to the flowers and to the tops and sides of the pots. Let the masking fluid dry completely. Mist the flower area with your spray bottle, then use a no. 16 or 18 round to drop in Cadmium Orange, Quinacridone Gold and Winsor Yellow next to each other. Spatter a bit of Scarlet Lake along the left side to create a light orange. Let this dry.

Color Harmonies of
the Foliage

To create the green leaves, first apply a yellow underpainting. As you add blue, you’ll create vibrant greens that will harmonize with the yellows and blues.

3 Establish the Background and/ Create Greens

Mask some leaf shapes with a no. 4 rigger to create the lightest yellow values in the leaves.

Wet the whole upper area with the 2-inch (51mm) hake and, using a no. 16 or 18 round, apply Cobalt Blue on the right and upper areas of the background and Antwerp Blue in the darkest areas on the left hand side. Let these two blues mingle and create the soft edges. The blues will also create greens when applied over the unmasked yellows. Apply some Cadmium Orange over the Cobalt Blue to create the brown of the soil.

Paint the Pots

Since the leaves and flowers are masked, focus on painting the two pots.

1 Apply a light shade of Cerulean Blue next to the lightest reflections on the large pot with a no. 16 or 18 round, saving the whites where the reflection is the lightest. Repeat this process on the design of the small pot. Remember to create its reflection on the larger pot.

2 Apply a very light shade of Cobalt Blue to indicate shadows on the small white pot, then echo this on the reflection in the larger pot. Apply a darker shade of Cobalt Blue to the darker areas of the large pot. Let this dry completely. Dip a toothbrush in masking fluid, then run your thumb over the bristles so the masking fluid lands on the larger pot. Spatter more masking fluid using the no 4 rigger. Let this dry, then darken some areas of the larger pot with another layer of Cobalt Blue. While wet, sprinkle some salt over the Cobalt Blue.

3 Apply a juicy Antwerp Blue to the darkest areas of the large pot. Use a small amount of Antwerp Blue in the design of the white pot and in its reflection on the large pot. Once the Antwerp Blue is dry, apply Permanent Magenta on the darkest areas and Permanent Rose on the lower areas of the blue pot. This will result in a shiny glazed look.

5 Refine the Foliage and Establish the Foreground

Mist the flowers and leaves in the pots with the spray bottle. Apply Cobalt Blue and Antwerp Blue to create another layer of greenery. As the dark colors emerge behind the light color harmonies of the leaves and flowers, a whole new dimension is revealed. Let this dry, then remove the masking fluid with the rubber cement pickup. Add some Quinacridone Gold in the large blue pot to suggest the reflection of the foliage. Mask around the edge of the pots and the flower foliage spilling over the pots. Suggest the shadows on the ground with diluted Cobalt Blue. Let this dry. Use Indigo for the darkest spots.

Color Harmonies of the Pots and Flowers

Since the pot is blue, using its analogous

color harmonies of green and violet will

really make the composition stand out.

6 Add the Final Touches

Mix Scarlet Lake and Cobalt Blue to create a warm gray. Use this mixture to suggest the midground pebbles. Continue breaking up the deck areas by painting around the light shapes. Use Cadmium Orange in a few light areas to create interest. For darker shadows, apply another layer of the Scarlet Lake and Cobalt Blue mixture. Remove the masking fluid with the rubber cement pickup to reveal the beautiful color.

Midnight Blue – 30″ × 22″ (76cm × 56 cm)


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