Orchid in watercolor #2, 12x9"

Orchid in watercolor #2, 12x9"

 

On Wednesday night I completed the last page in a sketchbook with some writing about the frustrating process I’d been through with the orchid painting. And then, as I did one last sketch of the orchid in the book (below) I realized how I might be able to actually make the painting I’d originally envisioned. It would be one I could do simply and be able to write about as the six-step process the publishers needed.

When I woke up on at 6:00 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning I realized I had to give it another try. The image above is the happy result.

 

Oh Oh Orchid!

My sketchbook breakthrough

Tonight my watercolor group met for dinner and a chance to share what we’ve been painting this month. When I showed them the two versions of the painting they liked both but Susie said that in the first version they looked like evil man-eating orchids, which is certainly how they felt to me. In the sketch above I thought the orchid looked like it had packed his bags and was running away, suitcases in hand. (Good riddance!)

Here is one of the MANY pages of tests and samples I made in trying to find the right pigment combinations to make this painting work.

Orchid watercolor test page

Orchid watercolor test page

I decided the pigment that gave me the color I wanted was Winsor Newton’s Quinacridone Magenta but like most quinacridones,  it wasn’t very civilized, trying to spread everywhere.

Orchid Painting Steps

Orchid Painting Steps

What finally worked was painting the veins first on dry paper, wetting a petal, painting cobalt blue just inside the perimeter and then dropping in the Quinacridone Magenta in the center, letting it spread and then blotting up a bit of the paint as needed.

Busby relaxing amidst orchid chaos

Busby relaxing amidst orchid chaos

At least someone got to relax in the sun. When I left to make a cup of coffee Busby napped amidst the orchid chaos on my desk. You can see the original reference photo peeking out from under him, with a pile of false starts at the painting behind that.

 

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Category:
Art supplies, Art theory, Flower Art, Published work, Sketchbook Pages, Still Life, Studio, Watercolor
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Join the conversation! 16 Comments

  1. Oh I wish I could draw.. Amazing to see the amount of work going in. I suppose nothing comes easy. Finished result is v impressive. I hope this experience has not put you off flowers for good?? ps nice cat!

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  2. I already know (from a botanical illustrator) that these commissions are sheer hell, but from now on, whenever I read a gardening book, I will see “cat.”
    Go! Busby!

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  3. Do you still see that orchard every time you close your eyes, Jana? You have really nailed the step-by-step this time and I am in awe of your dedicated approach. Lovely – I’ll be back here again if I ever try to paint an orchard.

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  4. When I saw the final version of the orchid, I understood that the first version really was bugging you. In this version, the orchids gleam and live and breathe… Transparent! How lovely!

    Plus, I appreciate learning how you approached a couple of problems… For me, all grist for the mill. For you? You be starting painting #3 on a very great high!

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  5. Well, the title of the post is what got me. How many times have I almost been done in by a quilt?

    I like your second result as well. The veins and petals seem more definite to me. To my untrained eye, the whole deal looks more light infused and delicate. Very pretty.

    Busby looks like a handsome chap…:)

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  6. We just got back from Key West last night, and I was thrilled this chilly Midwestern morning to see the tropical color of your orchid. Ooooh. The colors here are both vibrant and delicate, and altogether luminous.

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  7. It is so interesting to see your thought process and to see the success of the final painting. Had to crack up at “packing his bags and running”…it’s just so wonderfully YOU. Love Busby napping amid the trials and errors!

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  8. The rounding of the petals from the lift, especially, is just so beautifully done. Great job on this project – and good for you for keeping at it!

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    • Thanks Karen! It’s a lot of work, but less so than preparing for a show, like you do so often. At least no framing and matting is required! And the paintings remain mine except for publication rights. Jana

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  9. It is beautiful! And in six easy steps 🙂 ! Thank you for showing us your steps and your thinking process – indispensable advice for a beginner like myself. Busby is beautiful too, you can tell him, but he already knows…

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  10. Jana, I´m in complete awe over these fantastic orchids, and it´s great to see your process in solving this painting problem. Beautiful work all the way, thanks for sharing!

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  11. Oh happy day-ay! Loved the cat best of all though!
    Wendy

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  12. This “last” orchid is beautiful. The painting steps are wonderful, and I keep going back to your sketchbook picture for a smile and a chuckle to see that orchid running so boldly yet furtively with it’s packed bags.

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  13. What a trip this has been for you, Jana! Now that I see the New Orchid I understand better why the first one didn’t suit you..
    But as a demo, this is perfect for us beginners– seeing you work with one petal is so helpful to me who has nothing but Petal Trouble from start to finish. I need to Bookmark this one.

    Busby, of course, had the perfect solution: Take a nap amid the chaos and let the brain sort some of it out during sleep.
    annie

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  14. Looks great – think I will try this afternoon. Thanks

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