View Full Version : Columbine WIP

04-17-2003, 10:49 PM
Hi All... Here is my first go round with my flowers. They are underpainted in FUB + Alizaran Crimson. 11x15 Strathmore cold press block.

I had really, really, really good intentions of doing my background wash first. Then... I chickened out. I don't know why...

The photo is crummy... My paper is still white and the purple is a beautiful shade...

So... Suggestions are welcome for background treatment. Comments and critiques are appreciated. Thanks for looking...


04-17-2003, 10:55 PM

04-17-2003, 11:13 PM
I like the delicateness (is that a word?) of your painting.

As to the background, I don't know about what you see on your computer, but I see a gray and brown background around the sides of your paper, but the gray and brown has tints of red , and green, and purple. Interesting! It's white around the flowers themselves.

04-18-2003, 01:21 AM
Oohhhh Char.... what a difficult, complicated flower to paint and you've rendered them so well!!!:eek: I don't know what to do for a background but I'm sure it's going to be wonderful!


lyn lynch
04-18-2003, 02:24 AM
I mourning that we cannot see the purple because I am sure this is really a beautiful work. Columbine is so pretty.

Look up Em's recent WIP on Orchid and check out her background, which would complement your work. For some reason I see washes of W&N Carmine and blue of the purple.

04-18-2003, 02:47 AM
The flowers look very nice, Char. I like the variety of shapes. Are you going to do more glazing, or are they going to stay that nice purple?

Good luck with the background.... (both Pam's and Fookie's advice sound good to me)


04-18-2003, 05:19 AM
This is nice I like the colours------well done--------Alan

04-18-2003, 05:59 AM
Wonderful modelling on the flowers.

I'm the LAST person to ask for help on backgrounds :D


04-18-2003, 06:17 AM
Originally posted by KansasLady
I like the delicateness (is that a word?) of your painting.

As to the background, I don't know about what you see on your computer, but I see a gray and brown background around the sides of your paper, but the gray and brown has tints of red , and green, and purple. Interesting! It's white around the flowers themselves.

Aren't computers interestingólike KansasLady, I see colors in the white background, a beautiful pthalo or cerulean blue in the lower left corner, a soft red in the upper right corner, grays around the edges. These all get softer, lighter, and finally peter out as they near your beautiful columbines.

Whatever background you select, I don't think you should try to incorporate it in your flowers unless you mask them out. I kind of like leaving them with white behind them, adding color around them.

Columbines are one of my favorite flowers to grow too.

04-18-2003, 06:25 AM
Hi Char, this is looking great. I think it is wise to hold off on a background until your columbines are complete, that way you can decide then what is called for. Plus, you won't have to worry about the background colours bleeding into the flowers. I really love the way complementary colours make things stand out (purple/yellow, orange/blue, red/green). In any event, I'm eager to see how you finish this piece I can tell that it will be lovely!!!

04-18-2003, 06:34 AM
If I ever did an underpainting that was this good I'd stop and tell everyone I intended on doing a monochromatic study!! Really beautiful, I can't wait to see you develop this even further...



04-18-2003, 07:25 AM
Oddly enough, purple is my favourite colour... I have deep royal purple in two rooms of my home... I wear it often (it seems to complement the darn silver hair)... Perhaps it's the purple that attracted me to underpainting. I'm becoming quite addicted to the process.

:angel: Pam, I should have mentioned that I intend to take the blossom colours to a red/violet... I haven't tested my wash choices on scrap paper yet, though. And... if good intentions were roads, they'd be paved in gold... Like the greens study that I finally did, perhaps I need to do a "wash" study... :)

KansasLady... the flash on my camera caused the feedback on the paper... You should see what happened when I tried to autobalance the picture after transferring it! :eek:

Andrea,, they looked simple enough in my photograph... Didn't I just bite off more than I could chew!!! Hopefully I'll be able to post my next step today. :D

Fookie, columbine has naturalized in my garden... A lot less dangerous that cacti!!! They are mostly deep purple, but a few have kept something of their original hybrid tones. The darn things are very prolific and I end up have to yank a bunch of them out of the ground. I actually hate doing that, but they're taking over...:evil:

Olga... more glazing today...:)

Alan and Doug... thanks for your nice words...:D

Sylvia, I am starting to hate masking fluid. There have been many excellent threads and suggestions about glazing on the forum this week. After I read Arleta Plech's website "how-to" on glazing, I rubbed all my masking off. Also, I would really be afraid how the masking would affect the paint... So, I think I'm going to have to carefully paint around these goofy little thing!:)

Mary-Ann, thanks for your suggestions and supportive words!:)

Bob, thanks. One of the things I really like about underpainting is that it helps establish your values before adding local colour. This is my third attempt... I love the monochomatic studies that have been posted here and I just might try a sepia soon. :)

Ok... clean water's in my jars and my brushes are out (I have to hide them because the cat chews on them...go figure)!!!

04-18-2003, 08:46 AM
.....lovely so far!! *watching with interest regarding the background and final painting* Curious to see how you're going to get the background around all those nook, crannies and flower petals so I can learn from this!! :D

04-18-2003, 08:50 AM
I too love the look of the purple underpainting, same with em. Always looks done to me and I always think what a shame to mess with it.
Then comes the big surprise, colour, and it looks even better.

Can't wait to see it with colour!!!!!

04-18-2003, 01:29 PM
My camera refuses to take a good shot of this darn picture. And Corel Photopaint is having fits with the colour... The flowers are fuschia... And the *&^%#!! background is still white...

Comments and suggestions are welcome and needed!!!


lyn lynch
04-18-2003, 01:37 PM
Coming up just as I thought they would. I let them take over then when stalks and greens die back mow them over with lawner and plant annuals on top. This what I did with my over-run Iris and orange daylillies when I lived in Wisconsin.

I tried the mask a few times and don't think I care for it either. I used in in my Wailing Wall and that's why I had such variance on the shadows. On my current work I am not masking.

04-18-2003, 01:56 PM
Char, is this more like it? I have Paintshop Pro7 and I just adjusted the bright/contrast and then sharpened it a bit.


04-18-2003, 02:18 PM
what a fabulous job you did on the underpainting Char!!!!


beautiful Char. they look done....are you finished with the flowers?

I am tempted to say leave the background....it looks so illustrative right now.


04-18-2003, 04:21 PM
Wonderful job. Underpainting was just amazing and now beautiful wash! Stunning initial drawing of flowers!

I would suggest soft even background of laight purple or blue.


04-18-2003, 04:41 PM
Fookie, have you tried using a wax candle yet? I haven't, but think I want to give it a go... Since I have decided to abandon masking, and will continue practicing my washes, I also want to try adding a little interest...

Andrea, thank you, thank you, thank you! Yes, that is much more like it!

Em, I think I want to fix the stamens a little, but I'm essentially finished with the flowers. When I started this one, I had good intentions of painting a mottled background and then chickened out... I studied your orchid and Pam's teapot over and over again. I didn't have the confidence that I could pull it off. I have been using my student grade paper as practice sheets and I think I'll practice before I have the courage to post it.

My husband (my best fan), felt I should put a very soft wash behind in vignette style and call it done.

Aselka, thanks for the suggestion... I'm not quite sure yet what I'll do... I think it best to mull it over till tomorrow... I've come this far and don't want to risk spoiling it...

04-18-2003, 04:47 PM

Your underpainting really gives a richness and depth to your beautiful flowers.

I like your husband's suggestion for a background.

04-18-2003, 06:32 PM
Originally posted by Uschi
I too love the look of the purple underpainting, same with em. Always looks done to me and I always think what a shame to mess with it.
Then comes the big surprise, colour, and it looks even better.

Can't wait to see it with colour!!!!!

See what I mean, now the blue is gone and it is even better!!!

04-18-2003, 06:33 PM
These are looking great - I love both style and technique.

I assume you are using flash because you're photographing indoors? Is it possible to photo outdoors (I have no idea what the weather is like in your part of the world at present)? I find the natural light makes a huge difference to colour repro - probably has something to do with the transparency of watercolour. I know my scanner just can't cope with my paintings at all and the colours never seem to come true.

Well done on the painting, anyway :clap: :clap: :clap:

Look forward to seeing some more.


04-19-2003, 01:57 AM
Originally posted by CharM
Andrea, thank you, thank you, thank you! Yes, that is much more like it!

Your welcome!;)

04-19-2003, 03:10 AM
Char, elegant painting! IMHO, a candle wax texture for the background of this delicate painting would be too heavy. I'd vote for a white background on this one.


04-19-2003, 08:03 AM
Char, it's even more beautiful with the color in. IMHO, I'd try to create a background that looked like the "problem" pictures you were posting. The soft colors fading in from the corners looked really nice. I think the combo would really make a dramatic painting.


Crystal Owl
04-19-2003, 10:16 AM
Your flowers are beautiful fantastic underpainting work!


04-19-2003, 12:27 PM
My new mantra... Leave well enough alone. Leave well enough alone. Leave well enough alone....

I put a vignette background on this and I absolutely do not like it. At all. :mad: I'm sooooo disappointed. This, unfortunately, is exactly what my hubby wanted and he loves it. (He took the photo) My son thinks it's kewl. What do they know?????? They're fans and they're sweet and they're kind and especially thoughtful...

Thank you so much for all your comments and support, suggestions and help... I appreciate every single one of you!!! :)

Being a tenacious person, I'm going to do columbine again as a macro...


04-19-2003, 12:34 PM

I'm sorry you are disappointed with this one. BUT please keep in mind what a fantastic job you did on the flowers!!! Every painting can be a success if you learn from it. What happened here, I think, is that although the colours of the background are very pretty along with the flower colours, you lost your contrast and punch because they are the same values.

With your next columbine painting :) how about planning and painting the background FIRST?!!!! :) I know the next will be only better!!


04-19-2003, 12:40 PM
CharM, beautiful underpainting and flowers!

IMO you are not done yet--maybe that's why you don't like it. I think that when doing a vignette, you should have at least 1 side and preferable two going to the edges of your mat line.


04-19-2003, 12:48 PM
Em... can this be saved, perchance????

04-19-2003, 01:04 PM
from where I sit....the background you have now works well with the backs of the flowers.....good contrast there. where you lose the contrast is the fronts of the flowers where the values are the same.

to go into this you would need to bump up the darks in front of the flowers but fading away near the dark parts of the flowers. looking at the composition it might make for a spotty background......or you could leave a tiny little white "halo" around the backs of the flowers and make the background not so dark there.


I am very hesitant to advise going back into this one.

But I do know that a dark background would completely change the "flavor" of this piece and would most likely make it quite dramatic. is that where you want to go with this one? :)


04-19-2003, 01:26 PM
Em, I have learned some excellent lessons here... So... this is only paper and I don't have a lot to lose at this point.

I probably have a couple of options... Try to fix this one or start over... I really like the spray of flowers...

04-19-2003, 04:17 PM
I really like this! Good job!

About the background . . . I'm really hesitant to give advice about it, since I'm relatively new to watercolors and haven't quite gotten the hang of them yet as opposed to acrylics. But would it be possible to lighten it?

I tried it in PSP 7, and here's what I came up with:


I don't know if that helps at all - I like the lighter background better, but I don't know if it's really feasible to do that in watercolor - it's a lot of lifting. But it might be worth considering . . .

04-19-2003, 05:41 PM
I like it with the white....

agree with Em...illustrative...botanical even

marilyn h
04-19-2003, 06:59 PM
Love your Columbine! You just need to feather out your edges on the background. Too sharp of edges.

04-19-2003, 08:09 PM
Thanks everyone... I was feeling pretty lousy about messing up my picture... I am going to do it over because I really like the columbine spray. I will go with the intent to leave it as a botanical.

But... I am also going to try fix my first attempt. Should I try to scrub out the colour, fading to almost nothing? Or should I darken it significantly? Darn flowers are fussy things with lots of little tentacles...

Nothing to lose and everything to gain.

04-19-2003, 10:32 PM
Char, just darken the background!!! Go over what you've done on the BG already with darker colors.... the contrast will make the flowers pop out and be beautiful! You can save this!!!!

04-19-2003, 11:30 PM

Darker background

04-20-2003, 07:48 AM
Thanks Andrea of the magic techno stuff!!! Will be darkening the background of the first one!!! I have drawn and underpainted the second one already... I really appreciate your help and support.

04-20-2003, 08:02 AM
In this instance I would have tried to lighten the background. For me a dark background is too heavy for a spray. If dark I feel the stems need to go to the edge of the paper and maybe add a few leaves.
Live and learn!!! Glad you are working on the second one, I have done many second ones, not because they were ruined but simply because I wanted to see how it would have looked the other way.