Friday, April 7, 2017

Painting Chrysanthemum: From Reference Photo to Finish

Since last time I shared the process of wet mounting, I decide to share a bit about how I painted the botanical watercolor.

When I picked the chrysanthemum flowers in the fall, I took some reference pictures. The photo looked fine when I first took it, but later as I tried to draw and paint for it, I found it lacking contrasts and slight blurry, making the process challenging.

Sometimes in the beginning of the year, on a sketchbook I roughed out the basic layout of the painting, including the positions of the Latin botanical name, the Chinese name, and the seals.

On an new sketchbook page with a mechanical pencil, I drew the chrysanthemum with as much as precision as I can, making sure the shapes were well-defined. This step doesn't look like much but I would say it's the most important step.

Once I was happy with it, I put a transparency with grid on top of my pencil drawing, drew a grid on my watercolor paper, and transfer the drawing. I used hot-press paper for its smooth surface, and lighter pencil pressure so I don't etch too much into the paper.

As I transferred, I erased the grid lines as I go. I still looked at the reference photo and making decisions as I transferred, so the final drawing on the watercolor paper was a little different than the pencil drawing.

Looking at the reference photo, I applied the watercolor in layers, mostly with a size 0 brush. I had to make up some details as I go, because the reference photo was a bit flat, especially in the center of the flowers. It was just a big blob of yellow. After adjusting and re-adjusting the shades and tone, at some point I had to decided when to stop fussing over painting.

At this point, I wrote the Latin and Chinese botanical names with the respectively appropriate calligraphic tools.

Stamped on my name seal, the Peaceful Water seal, and call it done! The painting will be hanging in the hallway next to other botanicals. Next time when you come in, feel free to check it out!