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Flower Art Painting Plants Published work Watercolor

Becoming Begonias (third painting for the book)

Becoming Begonias, Watercolor, 9x12"
Becoming Begonias, Watercolor, 9x12"

I finished my third painting for the book Must Paint Watercolor Flowers (above). This one was fun and not a struggle like the orchid painting. Since the lighting in the photo reference was flat with no obvious source of light I pretended there was one coming from the upper right and tried to exaggerate it a bit in my painting to give it some life.

Now I just have to write up my process and the materials and techniques I used for the publisher and I’ve completed my three-painting commitment. There are some really fine artists contributing to the book and I am honored to be included with them.

Below are my steps in getting to the final version.

Tracing the enlarged photo onto watercolor paper using blue Saral Transfer Paper
Tracing the photo print-out onto watercolor paper using blue Saral Transfer Paper

I printed the photo on my printer and sandwiched the Saral Transfer paper between the print and the watercolor paper.

The transfered drawing on Arches 140 lb watercolor block
The transfered drawing on Arches 140 lb watercolor

Normally I would use a much lighter line, but the publisher requests we make the drawing dark so that it photographs well. At least the blue Saral transfer erases easily with a kneaded eraser.

Painting the first layer of yellows, oranges and reds
Painting the first layer of yellows, oranges and reds
First layer of flowers painted
First layer of flowers painted

I like the sort of botanical illustration look of this phase.

Beginning to paint the blues and greens in the leaves
Beginning to paint the blues and greens in the leaves

When this brightly painted leaf dried I glazed over it with Viridian so it would stay in the background but I enjoyed these pretty colors together.

First layers of flowers and leaves painted
First layers of flowers and leaves painted
After adding the darks between leaves and additional glazing on leaves
After adding the darks between leaves and additional glazing on leaves
Adding details to the flowers
Adding details to the flowers

I had a good time glazing on the lines and shadows on the flowers. Then it was just a matter of adding a few more shadows here and there and signing my name.

23 replies on “Becoming Begonias (third painting for the book)”

Hey, don’t you have to cook Christmas dinner and party on? You have am amazing commitment to your painting. Fine work…but I like the half-finished pictures best. Is that okay?
Wendy

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Hi Wendy, That’s such an interesting comment. I usually like my work at a stage previous to the finished state too. In fact, just as I finished I couldn’t restrain my hand and went back in and did some glazing of shadows that I didn’t like but wouldn’t come off so had to leave them. I’ve been told repeatedly to leave a painting when you think it’s 75% done and call it done. I haven’t learned that lesson yet. And no, I didn’t have to cook or party for Christmas. I opted out of the winter shopping holidays years ago (as did most of my family) but I did get in some nice family time and a solstice party at my sister’s. Jana

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OK…I’m coming in today as a gardener and begonia grower…yes, Wendy has got it. The process pictures are excellent. For people who grow these (first timers) there is often a sad lack of what the plants will look like before they mature.
And for gardeners in general, it’s so interesting to see something like this.(I think I may have mentioned this before?)
You and others might like to see this http://www.practicalpainting.com/Articles/NancyTichborne.html

Well done, Jana!

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Thanks for the link to the Nancy Tichborne article. I’ve seen her paintings before and they’re really fabulous but I’d never seen the article and enjoyed reading it.

Your comment about knowing how the plants will look when mature is interesting. I have to admit I’m so ignorant when it comes to gardening and in fact, when the publisher sent me the photo I had to ask what kind of flower it was. I wasn’t familiar with begonias. Perhaps they don’t grow easily in my area? I would have loved to have had one on my desk while I was painting. It’s weird just working from a photo of something I haven’t personally seen. So do you think it says begonia then? That I got the begonia personality? Jana

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Great title! Wish I would have thought of that. I liked the way the title could be read either way — they gradually become begonias as I paint them and they’re becoming as in pleasant and pretty. Jana

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I love seeing your process! It helps so much for beginner painters like me. I have a tendency to try and get the final colors and values from the very start instead of building up to them. A lot of disasters happen that way!

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Thanks Raena. It’s a very admirable approach to try to get the colors and values right from the start and sometimes I go for that. But in this case I wanted to have a more wet-into-wet softer layer first and then glaze detail over that, as well as make adjustments where needed. I did try to come pretty close with the first layers to the final colors and values but did have to make some adjustments to knock back some of the leaves so they’d stay in the background. Jana

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Hi Jana, Happy New Year!
I just stopped by to say thank you for your wonderful blog, postings and of course your beautiful works of art. They have brightened my year as well as provided a wealth of information. I am so glad I found your site.
Hugs
Pat

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Me again! Jana you should be able to grow tuberous begonias in SF. I grew them in pots in London! They prefer a cooler climate (certainly on my “no-no” list these days!) with protection from frosts.
Googling should give you more local facts.Even if you can’t overwinter them, they are beautiful and great painting subjects.

I’ve emailed a link

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