There are so many different kinds of hydrangea in the park, I can’t keep up with them. I like the white varieties the best because I think they best show off the intricate extravagant structure of so many tiny blossoms.
Taking a break from colored pencil, I decided to go back to watercolor for a change. A couple years ago, I was mainly painting watercolor flowers. At some point, I got interested in colored pencils and shifted to mostly working with them. There are some things about colored pencil that are much easier, in a way. Colored pencils are completely controllable and predictable. Watercolor is not. Even the best watercolor artists acknowledge the magic accidents that make watercolor what it is. On the other hand, watercolor is much faster and more forgiving on my hands and shoulders.
I have been following a bunch of botanical artists of various mediums and am inspired by the level of detail they manage in their work. I don’t find myself drawn to the strictly scientific, accurate representation of botanical illustration, though I admire it, but I do like focusing on the details of flowers. I like to include interesting lighting and shadows that isn’t strictly for accuracy. I also like to include backgrounds, though for this I decided to try a white background and I am pleased with it.
Here are some images from the steps I took painting this – the drawing, transferring it to the watercolor paper, painting a shadow/tonal under-painting, and finally adding the color. Overall I like the way it came out, but can also see some room for improvement. I could be better about making neat careful edges. And my greens need work. I found the leaves a lot more challenging than the flower. I enjoyed adding the tiny details most of all. (click for larger images)
Winsor Newton watercolors on Fabriano Artistico 300 lb hot press
10 x 16 inches
At last, I have found the ultimate answer to my plant identification needs in the form of a Facebook group called “Plant Identification and Discussion.” Once posted, a photo of any plant (it seems) will be identified very quickly. This morning I saw Nigella damascena, a flower I had not seen before, identified in the group, and then this afternoon I saw it in the park! It was identified before I even knew I needed it to be identified. Some common names for it are love-in-a-mist, ragged lady, or devil in a bush.
Lately I have been getting more interested in the plants themselves and not just photographing and drawing them. I’ve been reading a lot of books, blogs, and watching a lot of videos by botanical artists and illustrators. Plants are really cool.
Nigella damascena, Love-in-a-mist: