Lesson 1 Of The Florals Course: Sunflower

Sunflower 1, Watercolor on Paper, 9" x 12"
I'm very proud of myself for having been brave enough to tackle something so outside of my comfort zone.

Why did I wait so long? I've been a fan of watercolorist Ann Blockley for years, and I own two of her books: Country Flowers in Watercolour and Watercolour Textures, and yet I never dared try to paint in her style. I'm sure Ms Blockley was the inspiration for Joanne Thomas' own painting style, which she teaches in this new Florals series  that I purchased the other day.

I started with the Sunflower lesson because this is the flower that inspired me the most, and though there are all sorts of things wrong with this painting, I can see that I did learn what I considered the main challenge of this lesson: working with negative shapes. I can see that I grasped the concept and I feel confident that I will be able to apply it again and again.

The main thing that's wrong with this painting, I feel, is that there's too much green at the top. I did try to lift some in order to lighten it, but have you ever tried lifting a cadmium pigment? It's almost impossible because of its very staining nature.

I'm not sure if I succeeded in representing the way the top of the sunflower folds down over the centre... but maybe I'm just being picky here.

I like the way the salt and the splashing came out. And the limited palette (cadmium yellow, cadmium red, cobalt blue and burnt sienna) is something else that I've been meaning to try. Joanne is right: that creates unity and harmony without effort.

But after that attempt at lifting pigment, I'm not sure that I won't switch back to my good old non-staining ones for the remaining assignments.

Speaking of Ann Blockley, this is how she  interprets this subject.


This sunflower picture is from from her book, Watercolour Textures that I mentioned earlier.

You can see how she, too, takes advantage of the negative spaces. 

That gave me an idea: what if I cropped my own painting?

I think I like it better this way.

And how about cropping it even more?

Well, that was one way of getting rid of the excess green at the top!

This was the most fun I've had in a long time!

Now I'm off to order Ann Blockley's DVD!

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