This is one of the first paintings I did under Barb's Tuition.
Flowers are a forgiving subject, as is the soft focus background.
I have put this together from the lessons we did, including photos and materials used.
Hope you find it interesting and helpful.
WHAT THE ARTIST USED
Liquin - medium
Deep edge artist canvas 50 x 40cm
No. 10 flat taklon (soft)
for the background
No. 2 taklon liner for detail
No. 8 taklon filbert for the flowers
Cobalt Blue (Hue)
Cerulean Blue (Hue)
Cadmium Yellow Deep (Hue)
Cadmium Red (Hue)
Session 1: Draw the Frangipanis
To help us arrange the Flowers on the canvas, we practised our composition on a piece of paper first
In cutting the paper to measure 25 x 20 cm, this enabled us to simply double our sketch when drawing it onto the canvas, which was 50 cm high x 40 cm wide. I always like to start with the focal flowers – I drew three – positioning them on the paper, followed by smaller flowers that will be out-of-focus. This will give depth to the painting. Leaves, buds etc can then be added to fill in any gaps.
I requested to paint this one after seeing the frangipani painting Barb had done with 3 butterflies on it.
There’s just something about frangipanis. So our design is similar to the painting on the right, but we only have 1 butterfly. We chose one that doesn't have too many intricate details so we could have a splash of colour without turning a simple concept into an ordeal.
Barb drew this heavier on her canvas in order to photograph it—don’t do that : ). It’s hard to erase and she had to work harder to cover it. You want an outline—light as you can. You’re really just helping yourself with position.
As you can see, the petal always turns in on the left hand side and the shape varies a lot, so just make some bigger and some smaller. Our flowers are looking forward—I actually took that photo after we had done our design. As you can see it’s got a nice shape all on its own, so if you feel inclined, to draw it similar to that. In ours, we put big leaves underneath so the flowers would stand out more.
As you can see, Jo has drawn her own individual arrangement of flowers and leaves, keeping it all nicely centred on her paper.
We decided to add some movement to the painting by add-ing a beautiful Cabbage Leaf Butterfly. You can leave this out of course but if you do decide to include it in your painting, remember that it will be a part of your focal point (sharp focus) and therefore will need to be within the parameters of your drawing.
The focal point—in this case the star of the flower should be the sharpest, cleanest and the most detailed area with the highest contrast : )
Session 2: The Background
The background can be anything your imagination allows. Brushing in shapes of leaves and branches and then feather-ing them off with a soft brush will give you that out-of- focus effect.
To give the impression of flowers in the distance, you need to leave a space in the section of background you are deal-ing with. With a clean brush, start with the white parts of the flowers, then yellows, oranges, and leaving the darks last. (Don’t give these flowers any detail, only colour, as they will eventually be just a blur.) Feather all the colours into each other softly before attempting to brush the flower into your background. (This should be done while this section of the background is wet.) Continue feathering the flower into the background softly. You will need to wipe your brush off onto a rag continually to remove excess paint. You can blur it out as much as you want – the more the better (we don’t want these flowers competing with the subject). Paint these suggestive flowers anywhere you see fit.
Once I had finished the background, I then added some extra little highlights in the lightest areas with a mix of Ceru-lean Blue and White. Also some dots of pure white can be added. The Cerulean gives the impression of some clean, bright light coming through the suggested foliage.
Do I paint the darks or lights first?
We need to vary the tones to keep the background interesting.
I always start from the top left, moving across to the right, then down (so my hand doesn’t end up smudging the paint because I am right-handed).
Once you have decided that one area is largely made up of darks, then I would paint in the darks first and add the lights next.
Alternatively, if you want a lot of light coming through, then I would paint the light colours first and then brush in the darks.
I used the same colours as Barb. As you can see, my background is quite different. My painting isn’t as sharp as Barb's so I don’t actually have to blur things up as much.
I slapped in a lump of Cerulean Blue and liked it. It gave the painting a bright, summery tone.
Don’t be deceived that this background will be quick, especially if you haven’t attempted soft focus.
There’s a lot of people telling you how easy it is to whip up these things, and maybe if you have a natural dexterity you’ll get it done quicker, but I haven’t found it to be the case. You still want to find the background to be pleasing even if it is just shapes.
Mine was too dark for my own liking so I lightened it up as I went. Keep it light and bright to give it the snappy appearance your frangipanis deserve.
Try not to get stuck doing one corner when you’re trying to do the beginning shapes for the background. It’s one of my pitfalls. It makes it harder to keep the colours the same. I ended up doing my background in two sessions.
Note: See Barb's background has a soft texture.
This is done with a dry brush and dash of patience, I gave up to early, so my background isn't as pretty.
I have three flowers in my painting that will be the focal flowers (you may have chosen more or less). I painted one of these flowers in next. I wanted to see how a sharp, focussed flower compared with my very soft background. Then the supporting out-of-focus flowers could be painted in afterwards.
So, I picked out one of my main flowers. We need to keep our colours clean and bright. Paint in all the white areas first excluding the part of the petals that fold into the centre of the flower. These can be painted in sepa-rately later. Next, mix the Cadmium Yellow and White to make a lovely soft yellow and gently brush up into the white. You’ll notice that the yellow of a frangipani tends to point towards the tip of the petal then rounds off on each side. Painted in this way will help give some direc-tion to the petal. When I completed every petal with the light yellow, I continued on with a lovely dark orange (using Cadmium Yellow Deep and Cadmium Red) brush-ing from the middle of the flower to feather off into your soft yellow.
Session 3: Paint the Focal Flowers
Looking at the flower, you start with the white ends. You’re painting about halfway down the petal. Now make a lemon colour and paint about the next quarter. Then get the dark red and move toward the centre
In this photo, you can see a natural divide in the lemon along the centre of the petal. Our flowers have a warmer centre which helps give the painting strong definition.
If you look at the edge of the petals they are actually lemon down near the centre of the petal.
Always have a definite light source to follow throughout the painting.
I have chosen roughly 10 o’clock,
so shadows are basically on the right
and underneath the petals
and leaves etc. : )
I've gone a bit far up the petal, so now I'm going to try and lighten it off when I do the shadows
Some of my flowers overlap each other therefore I have made the ones behind a lot more blurred to give depth to the painting.
Now for the tricky bit – the flowers have to be blended into the background. At this stage of the painting the back-ground is dry. All we want now is the outside edges of the flower to be slightly blurred. Firstly, with a soft, dry brush, gently rub the flower edges into the background, wiping excess paint off onto your rag as you go. The difficulty with this stage of the painting is that the background is dry and not all the edges will fade into the dry paint nicely. Where it is not working (you may have dragged the flower out too far or where the background is a particularly dark patch) you need to make up that colour of the background.
Session 4: Shadow in Flowers
Getting down to the nitty gritty now. As I said earlier, my painting is not as sharp, so when Barb paints a picture and then blurs it out, I simply paint and do a little blurring of the edges and I’m done. If you look at the picture on the right, you can see I have made the petal colours blend smoothly so to insinuate it is a little out of focus. As you can see, my painting has got a dark blue line under the petal and on the leaf. This gave an excellent interpretation of distance and shadow. This combined, with the shading on and under petals, makes it look like I have levels of flowers and leaves.
Session 5: Out of Focus Flowers
Firstly, I made a mixture of Cobalt and Cadmium Red and white to make a very light purple. This was going to be my basic shadow colour for the white parts of the flower only. Later I can add a little more blue or green to these shadows to indicate the petal’s translucence against the background..
I then made this purple mixture slightly darker and fol-lowed through into the yellow of the flower. I continued into the orange by using a mixture of orange and some of the purple. The purple, when mixed with the orange, greys it off to give a more natural shadow colour.
Paint all your out-of-focus flowers one by one in exactly the same way as you did with your main flowers (Session 3).
Before attempting to blend them into the background, the flowers themselves need to be softened.
Depending on how soft and out-of-focus you want them to be is simply a matter of how much you brush the colours into each other.
Where two objects are touching, the shadow will be more of a dark line. The further apart the objects are the lighter the shadow becomes as it extends out into the light.
The next step were the edges of the petals that twirl back into
the centre of the flower. They need their own shadows to give
the impression that they are curved and not flat.
So with a washed and clean brush, I first brushed in the whites again starting with the tip of the petal down to about ¾ of the
way towards the centre. I finished the rest with a light yellow using the Cadmium Yellow. Switch-ing back to my fine brush I lightly dabbed the ends of the petals where they disappear down into the centre of the flower. I wanted them to be slightly out-of-focus to indicate depth.
To make an object appear round, shadows are brushed in from the edges leaving the middle part lighter as it projects forward.
Our last shadow was the centre of the flower itself. This is basically a hole so we made a very dark colour by using Cadmium Red with a tiny bit of Cobalt. Just blob this in the centre, then with your fine brush draw out the dark red into and around the petals, separating them as they twirl down into the centre.
I am having trouble feathering off the ends of the petal into the dark orange centre.
You don’t want to go back into the dark area if you can help it. A little bit of dark orange on your brush will help to dab up into the lighter coloured petal.
I made those curly edges of the petals look round as they twirled down into the centre of the flower by using shadows. (Remember where your light source is radiating from.)
Because white has no colour, the shadows on the petals should be a reflection of the background and the surrounding colours
Session 6: The Butterfly
I wanted the butterfly to be a part of my focal point together with the flowers. Therefore, as I have already said, a focal point needs to have the highest contrasts of colour and tone. Firstly, I made a pretty green from the Cobalt Blue and Cadmium Yellow Deep and White and brushed in all the light areas of the butterfly.
Next came the shadows and darker areas.
Adding Cadmium Red to the mix for a slightly orangey colour made the shadows.
For the butterfly’s underparts, I made the shadows darker by adding a bit more blue.
Once the wings were blocked in I then proceeded to block in the body. This I made with an orange mix to reflect the orange of the flower. Whilst I had this colour on my brush I also dabbed it on the parts of the wing that were closest to the flower (reflective light is sometimes a good way to tie the subject in with the rest of the painting).
To make those fine veins in the wings, use a slightly darker shade by adding a bit of purple to the colour you are paint-ing on. Remember the lines should be lighter in the highlights and darker in the shadows.
What makes a good shadow colour?
A general rule of thumb is to mix a purple (in this case the Cobalt and Cadmium Red) and mix it into the colour to be shaded. Remember though that shadows are not flat and need different tones within them - darker against the source and lighter with more colour as it nears the light.
I don’t use black except in cases where a real black is needed. (Instead I always use my purple mix as it has more col-our.) In this instance I used a black for the butterfly’s eye and antennae. When painting in the antennae, mix a small amount of Liquin with the black to increase the flow enabling you to paint two fine lines. Remembering the light source, paint a fine line of white on the left of each antenna (it will blend slightly with the black to give a more realistic greyish colour to the highlight). Whilst you have the black on your palette, darken the dark area under the wings and give the body some suggested segments.
I made the legs a creamy colour and used the Liquin again to firstly position them on the flower. It is easier to then go back and fatten up the legs near the body. Don’t forget shadows – top of the legs as they are still under the body, on the left side of each leg and underneath.
Detailing the butterfly was last – whiten up the whites, give the wings some orange edges, and dots. As I have already said, anything in the light areas will be lighter and those details in the darker areas, darker. A clean white dot of paint in the black eye gives the eye a reflective shine.
Finally, once the butterfly in completed, a shadow needs to be painted onto the flower to correspond with all the shadows of the painting. Remembering your light source, firstly paint in the shape of the butterfly’s body with a dark orange mix (as was previously made for the flower shadows). Shadows will be stronger and darker where the legs actually touch the flower. As the shadow may fall on lighter parts of the petal, try adding a light yellow for that area and conversely more purple to the darker parts in the centre of the flower.
We picked the Cabbage Butterfly because it isn’t too intricate, but visually it gave the painting another dimension. That and they look nice. Notice how the light shines through the wings of the butter-fly. When I started this the butterfly looked too flat. After looking at Barb’s I realised that I needed to be braver and push more colour into it. Remember you can go over the fine lines after a few days to pop the whites back out.
With a clean brush and plenty of white paint, I proceeded to dab in areas that needed extra paint (especially on my focal flowers where I needed the most definition). Clean and brighten up any areas that may require more paint.
Session 7: Finishing Touches
Frangipanis are such a pleasing flower. I really like my result and I’m already looking to do another. Hope you had as much fun as we did. We’re going to do a beach scene next so I practise completely different elements like ocean waves, sand and a few trees and clouds. Hope to see you there. Cheers.