View Full Version : Iris - a first ever WC painting...

06-22-2013, 11:05 PM
Hi all,

I'm posting this here as my first ever painting (WC or otherwise) since I was a young kid. I've picked up painting as something to augment and improve my photography skills. I've been reading threads and viewing all your finished work since before Christmas and I have enjoyed and been inspired by your works. I guess I'm sharing this as much for advice and critique as I am to say thanks for your inspiration to even attempt this.

So, without further ado...

I'm using Windsor Newton Artist half pans:
http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3713/9113539044_c76d942b26_c.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/9113539044/)
20130622_224648 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/9113539044/) by MCG Photo (http://www.flickr.com/people/[email protected]/), on Flickr

and here's the work:
http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7320/9111313219_f7ea3bf0ef_c.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/9111313219/)
Iris - first ever WC... (http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/9111313219/) by MCG Photo (http://www.flickr.com/people/[email protected]/), on Flickr

It ain't much, but it's here. And that is half the battle! It is about 8"x8". I was too excited to try the paints out and started painting before I took time to draw out the subject. I had a terrible time getting the purple to mix and gave up and went blue with the flower instead. I also had a hard time with the veins that are so detailed. They end up broad and not very delicate.

The reference photo is my own. I took it about a week ago (it's not a very faithful copy):
http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2860/9062010358_511741158c_c.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/9062010358/)
Wild Iris (http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/9062010358/) by MCG Photo (http://www.flickr.com/people/[email protected]/), on Flickr

06-23-2013, 01:49 AM
Hi Matthew, saw this in the Shutterbug Pub. Congratulations on your first watercolour. You should get some decent watercolour paper, it will make things much easier.


06-23-2013, 04:37 AM
Hi Matthew - welcome to the club - of painting in watercolor. For a first painting, an exceptionally good job. As you can see, the paper and paint you use really do make a difference. In order to make a good purple you need a cool red and a cool blue - for instance a Cadmium Red makes a muddy purple no matter what it's mixed with, and a Permanent Rose mixed with Winsor Blue, beautiful varieties of lavender. I love the yellow greens you mixed. Try to stay away from the bluish greens in large areas. If you find greens to garish try adding a tiny amount of its complement - red. Hope to see more of your paintings.

06-23-2013, 06:39 AM
Welcome to the Watercolor Forum.

Congratulations on your lovely Iris painting...it's charming in its spontenaity and free brushstrokes.

To get those thin vein lines, you need a rigger brush. They are made for drawing thin lines (like the rigging on a sailing ship).

Keep playing with your paints and enjoying watercolors.


06-23-2013, 08:42 AM
Great job...especially for it to be your first. I can see how painting would improve your photography, and vice/versa.

06-23-2013, 08:58 AM
Thanks everyone for the encouragement and advice!

I do have a block of Arches 140lb cold press to work with as well. Maybe I'll give this another go this afternoon. I should have also mentioned I bought a collection of brushes including a rigger, but they are sitting on my desk at work. This was done with the little brush that came with the paint kit.

06-23-2013, 09:01 AM
One question on the paper: how did you know it wasn't good paper? Because it is in a notebook? Or was it something about the way the paint looks? Just curious.

06-23-2013, 10:57 AM
Great for first try, Matt! I find the two disciplines complement each other very well. The trick is in deciding what makes a good photo and what makes a good painting, they are not necessarily the same thing.....but that's a refinement you will discover later. Now is the time to get your watercolour skills. I'll look forward to seeing what you do, paint lots!

06-27-2013, 05:11 PM
Matthew, great first painting and beautiful photo! Usually the paper in notebook form, even if it's 140 lb, is student grade. I've used Strathmore pads and books and they're okay, especially for pen and wash journals, but forget trying to lift anything or doing a heavy wash application. The sizing makes a big difference.

Painting will definitely influence your photography. I usually have to look through a few hundred photos to find one that I think would be worth painting. It's a very different set of criteria. So now when I'm shooting I ask myself if the composition would make a good painting...if not, I try to fix it so that it would. But sometimes you just want to capture movement and color and you can always modify the photo for the painting.

Thanks for sharing the great pictures for us to use as reference photos!


06-27-2013, 09:24 PM
Your photo is stunning! This is a great place to get tips and help with watercolour...not easy but a wonderful challenge keep at it ..you've made a start and have enjoyed what you did...keep at it you obviously have a good eye!

06-27-2013, 10:24 PM
Thank you Lynn, Jan, & Suzanne!

I really appreciate the encouragement and feedback!


06-28-2013, 12:03 PM
I started out with photography before taking up painting, too. I found that the painting helped my photography (too many photographers concentrate too much on the technical details and forget the art) and that having a foundation in photography helped me with painting (the rules of composition are what they are, no matter the medium).

Good luck with exploring watercolour.