Art theory Flower Art Ink and watercolor wash Painting Sketchbook Pages Watercolor

Matalija Poppies (Fried Egg Flower)

Matalija Poppy, Watercolor 9x12"
Matalija Poppy, Watercolor 9x12"

Today in the my watercolor class I demonstrated painting white flowers and soft-focus bright or dark backgrounds. A neighbor graciously allowed me to pick a huge bouquet of Matalija poppies from her gigantic bush so each artist had their own flower to paint.

To save time I only painted a quarter of the flower before going on to paint the background. This made it a little difficult to finish the painting after the class since by then the flower had completely changed so I just pretended a little.

To paint the background I started by making three different puddles in little bowls: Permanent Alizarin Crimson, Quinacridone Gold and Winsor (phthalo) Blue. I used a separate brush for each color to keep the colors clean. Then I just worked my way around, washing on little gold, a patch of red beside it, a splotch of blue, letting the colors touch and mingle.

Matalija Poppy Sketch, green ink & watercolor
Matalija Poppy Sketch, green brush pen & watercolor

To warm up for today’s demo I did this sketch last night using my fun new green Pitt Artists Brush Pen and then added watercolor. And I spelled the flower name wrong. Which I’ve been doing forever, or at least since I painted the first one several years ago found on my website here.

21 replies on “Matalija Poppies (Fried Egg Flower)”

ThanksTwinkle, I didn’t start by wetting the paper, I worked on dry paper but put down very wet but richly colored juicy washes beside each other letting them run together. So it’s kind of wet into wet, but on dry paper. Jana


Thanks Shirley. I didn’t use any mask. Normally I would have completed the entire flower first and then painted the background carefully around it (still without masking). Instead I only painted part of the flower, did the background and then later, when the background was completely dry, went back and finished the flower being careful not to moisten and reactivate the background paint. Jana


Thanks Cynthia! I got a little carried away with the paint on the white flower and might have left a little more pure white if I had been working more “seriously” (rather than taking the playful approach I do in demos–“let’s see what happens if…”). I don’t really find painting white flowers to be difficult — it’s just a matter of seeing the shapes, shadows, form and colors within the pale “grays”.

It’s funny how we all have our very own “hard” things. Some things others find easy are really hard for me, while stuff people think of as hard, I find easy to see and paint. I think it’s because I just haven’t learned to see or understand what I’m seeing when I look at those “hard” things. Jana


Your demonstration turned into a masterpiece and we got to watch the whole thing live. Thank you so much!


Beautiful painting!! Your students must have been totally impressed at your painting. The flower itself is beautiful, but, oh, that background!!!! I love your sketch, too. Green Pitt brush pen, huh? It’s going on my list!

Carol C.


It is dangerous isn’t how visiting each other’s blogs leads to buying stuff! I saw that wonderful warm apple green colored pen (my favorite color) at the store and had to buy it. Jana


Hello Jana

I have just stumbled across your work and i think it is absoulutly stunning. I wish i lived in San Francisco to attend one of your classes!!

I love the technique you achieved with the background as it is something i am hoping to achieve for my Art finals. I was just wondering if you could give a little advise: would you be able to get the same type of effect on canvas and did you stretch the paper before you started painting?

Hope to hear from you soon

Lauren K
Essex UK


Comments are closed.