Bookmark and Share

Medium: Watercolor Category: Floral

This 12-step demonstration is from the book, Vibrant Flowers in Watercolor
by Soon Y. Warren, published by North Light Books, an imprint of F + W Media, Inc. Reprinted with permission of the publisher. All steps included

Salmon Lily
by Soon Y. Warren


2-inch (51 mm) and 3-inch (76mm) hake brushes

300 lb. cold-press Arches paper

Mechanical Pencil


Aureolin, Cadmium Yellow Light, Gamboge, Hooker's Green, Permanent Alizarine Crimson, Permanent Rose, Prussian Blue, Sap Green, Sepia and Winsor Green

Step 1. Apply the First Wash

Wet the papr using a 3-inch (76mm) hake. Apply a thin wash of aureolin and Gamboge on the center of the flower as smoothly as possible. While the surface is still wet, use a dry 2-inch (51mm) hake to soften and blend the area with short, fast strokes. A wet brush will make streaks instead of feathering and blending, so clean and dry your brush often. Apply a wash of Cadmium Yellow Light to the background.

Step 2. Apply the Second Wash

Apply a thin wash of Permanent Alizarin Crimson. Layering red over yellow creates the peach color of the flower. Use a 3-inch (76mm) hake and spread the color over the background. This layer will unify the elements of the painting.

Step 3. Establish the Color

Using a no. 10 round for pigment and a no. 12 round for blending, glaze premixed Cadmium Yellow Light and Gamboge onto the center of the flower and the buds around it. This yellow begins to create the lily's rich, deep color.

Step 4. Separate the Flower from the Background

Using a no. 8 round for pigment and a no. 12 round for blending, glaze Hooker's Green on the center and outside of the flower. This helps define the flower.

Step 5. Define the Petals

Using one no. 12 round to glaze the Permanent Rose and a clean, dry no. 12 round to blend, define the flower petals. Where the shadow falls, the redddish color should be stronger. Repeat the glazing until the inner and outer layers are done. When defining the ruffle area, constantly blend with a clean brush to prevent hard edges.

Step 6. Detail the Petals

To portray the thickness of lily petals, glaze the edges very sharply and gently, leaving very few bumps. Alternate between a no. 8 round for detail and a no. 12 round for blending. This touch of glazing will make the edge appear as though it's curled out and rolled back, as opposed to thin petals, which have no curl at the edge. With your no. 8 round, draw the gentle, thin veins.

Step 7. Add Veins to the Petals

Mix Permanent Rose with Prussian Blue on your palette and use a dry no. 8 round to draw a thick, rough vein. Create little valleys of a lighter color between the veins to give the petal a wavy appearance. Glaze Hooker's Green in the center and, after it dries, glaze a layer of the complementery Permanent Rose to make a darker value.

Step 8. Apply a Cooling Wash

Apply a wash of diluted Prussian Blue with a no. 12 round. The blue changes the warm color to a cooler, more settled one. Blue makes the color richer and the red more subtle.

Step 9. Detail the Stigma and Stamen

The dark value at the bottom of the stigma and stamen makes them appear to come out of the flower's center. Without a dark enough value, they appear to float on the petals. Use a no. 8 round to finalize the details, alternating between Hooker's Green and Permanent Rose. For the anther, glaze premixed Permanent Alizarin Crimson and Sepia.

Step 10. Finalize the Lily

Glaze the ruffle with premixed Prussian Blue and Permanent Rose to define it. Deepen the shadow and vein with the same mixture and a no. 8 round. Using nos. 12 and 8 rounds for the different-sized background areas, apply Aureolin wet-into-wet in the lighter area. Use Prussian Blue and Permanent Rose for the rest of the background. Glaze the leaves with Hooker's Green using a no. 10 round.

Step 11. Complete the Background

Develop the leaves, bud and withered flower in the background with your no. 10 round. For the leaves, glaze premixed Hooker's Green, Sap Green and Sepia. Glaze the buds and withered flower with Hooker's Green and Sap Green. The withered flower needs more Permanent Rose.

Apply premixed Indigo and Permanent Alizarin Crimson wet-into-wet to the background with a no. 10 round. This harmonizes the leaves and the background, ridding the painting of unnecessary contrast. After the background is done, darken the leaves with premixed Winsor Green and Permanent Alizarin Crimson. This complementary color mixture produces a brilliant, dark green.

Demonstration from Warren's book, Vibrant Flowers in Watercolor
published by North Light Books, an imprint of F + W Publications. Reprinted with permission of the publisher.

Artwork and Demonstration Copyright 2013 by Soon Y. Warren. All Rights Reserved.

Step 12. Finish the Painting

Finally, after all the elements are done and you like the depth and feelings invoked by the painting, you can add the final touches: clean out the edge of the flower, soften any undesirable hard edges, and add any missing details. To soften the edges of the flower and leaves, use a scrub brush to lift off some pigment. Don't try to clean out the color completely, just soften the edge.

SALMON LILY, 22" X 30" (56cm x 76cm)
by Soon Y. Warren


Web Site Copyright 2013 by Richard R. Sands. All Rights Reserved.
Reproduction by any means in whole or in part is strictly prohibited without written consent.