A Spring Thing

All images © Bivenne Staiger

Local color and palest shadows are among the first washes of this pansy motif. Color bleeds a bit into the background where the paper is wet, but otherwise paint is contained at edges where paper is dry.

All images © Bivenne Staiger

A second wash of color in the same value is added to the pink pansies; this represents form and cast shadow shapes on those flowers. Color appears quite saturated because it’s applied to dry paper. While the shape is still wet, Cobalt blue is added to the lower part.

All images © Bivenne Staiger

The patterned “beard” of some flowers is painted almost dry-on-damp, which means both brush and paper are barely moist. A script brush loaded with saturated pink and purple further accentuates the stripes.

Then, the large background shape is quickly painted as one green mass that varies from light and bright to dark and in some places dull. This foliage is mostly loosely suggested because it’s not as important as the flowers, yet some stem and leaf shapes will be necessary to support the flowers. The brown at bottom left suggests the flower container, and a bit of Raw umber (a yellow-brown) at middle/right helps to visually balance its shape in the composition.

All images © Bivenne Staiger

Pockets of very dark shapes, painted as negative space shapes to the flowers and their tiny leaves, help define both. Since this is a white/pale and bright motif, a very dark background with a few bright foliage spots will make the flowers appear to pop.

All images © Bivenne Staiger

I’ve added some Cobalt turquoise light, dry-on-wet, to further brighten some of the greens at right, and some straight Cobalt, also dry-on-wet, to the brown container at bottom left.

Pansy Posy, Watercolor, 12×16″ ©Bivenne Staiger 2021

Photographed while some paint was still wet, this is close to completion. I might still add some larger dark shapes to top left of the background. This painting was done as a demonstration for my “Painting Flowers in Watercolor” class through Yale Peabody Museum’s Natural Science Illustration Program (peabody.yale.edu).

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