Daffodils: watercolour 14×10″

Daffodils: watercolour on pastelmat card 14×10 inches

Daffodils present the painter with a few headaches, with regard to composition. They are tall plants, bearing their flowers right up on top and almost above the leaves. This creates many tall and somewhat thin compositions! Our options are varied, however; one is to actually create a tall and narrow picture; another is to concentrate on just the flower-heads and buds. A third is to place the flowers (with shorter stalks) in a vase and thus reshape the picture.

During the middle part of March I spent an entire week dabbling with just green and yellow paints, and daffodils; trying out the various methods I’ve described in earlier posts. In one, I painted watercolour on a long thin board covered with gesso; this initially looked promising but the bright golden colours dried into a somewhat muted shade. Even lifting the paint off to create white flowers didnt achieve quite what I was after, so I put it aside.

Finally, this watercolour on white PastelMat card emerged at the end of the week. It was drawn initially with Conte pastel-pencil directly from daffodils; then the watercolours were laid carefully in for the flowers. On nearing completion, I had to decide whether to leave the background white or add colour. The whole thing looked too anaemic with just white so I opted for a coloured backdrop.

The complementary colours (to yellow) are purple, or even a mauve-blue. I chose a mix of ultramarine and alizarin for the purple, using more blue eventually to tip the overall shade that way. The yellow used was Aureolin, which is to the green side of the colour-wheel; and also gamboge (Winsor & Newton) and cadmium yellow. All the colours diffused rapidly over the paper and bled over some of the petal-edges in places; these had to be lifted out with a damp brush.

Some areas dried lighter than expected and were carefully re-darkened. The daffodil petals seemed rather flat and were worked over with a golden-yellow Neocolor 2 pastel. Touches of green were included in petal shadows. Overall it was an interesting exercise, but I felt that perhaps the golden-yellow power of the daffs was a little muted using this medium and method. I think I’ve now tired myself of daffodils for the time being, but the design has some further possibilities for, perhaps, an oil painting if a few extra blooms can be added.

Next Monday is Easter, so I may not have a new post online. All depends on the coming week and whether I have anything sufficiently completed to show.

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