My most recent painting, “Camellias in bloom” was definitely an exercise in patience. It also became an opportunity for me to explore endless green color variations because I painted a lot of foliage.
I took photographs of my overgrown camellia bush for a period of two weeks. When the first flowers bloomed, their vibrancy was exquisite and the center petals were more closed up. Later on, the bush had far more flowers blooming, but many of them were in stages of decay.
The digital process of creating a photo-layout for my painting took time. I worked from many photos and chose the best-looking camellias to be my stars. I pulled them closer together than they were in my photos. I made sure to add some buds and chose interesting leaves to fill in my layout.
The camellias were my stars or “heroes” and my goal was to have the background heighten them. This led me to darken the leaves in certain places. I found the blueness to be very interesting and even added purple into the green for another effect.
There were also many details that I eliminated, including speckled moisture on the leaves. I simplified water droplets, but left so many on the flowers that they kept me busy.
I saved considerable time by printing my layout lightly onto watercolor paper. I began by painting the camellia flowers first.
When the flowers were completed, I masked over them with fresh frisket film because I didn’t want the red and green colors to bleed together.
I put the pink palette aside and started a new palette that was mostly green. I saved the pink one for later on – because I knew at the end I would do some touch ups.
I completed areas in blocks and constantly found myself going back to rework older sections. The relationships between areas changed as I filled in more of my painting. I was continually darkening leaves and the transparent veils of color added richness. Some of the leaves had well over a dozen washes of color on them.
Although I used a lot of masking with the hero flowers, for the background I only masked the larger leaves. The delineations in the other areas were blurry and didn’t need sharpness.
When the background was completed, I eagerly removed the frisket on the flowers so I could see them again. My next step was to pull out my Prismacolor pencils. Those pencils were great for eliminating darker lines that happen as a result of using frisket film.
I can show this with two close-ups before and after I used colored pencils.
I did end up using the pink palette to knock back some of the white areas on the petals. I wanted the flowers to be more subtle, with less contrast.
I spent oodles more hours working over my painting with colored pencil and watercolor touches. But then I noticed it wasn’t significantly improving anything. If I kept working, my painting might become overworked and less sparkly. Finally I stopped and said, “Enough is enough!”
Then I scanned my image, which became yet another opportunity to spend countless hours fixing small details. I had to rein that in also. My main objective was to remove any spots of dust.
For stock purposes, I went ahead and created two paintings of my “Camellias in bloom,” and they were just different croppings of my larger painting.
I was having a haircut on my patio and my lovely stylist noticed a tiny bird’s nest resting on a branch. If she hadn’t pointed it out to me, I would never have seen it.
I took many photos of that nest and even created another painting layout. This time, the camellias took a back seat to the tiny bird. However, when it came time for me to move forward to paint it, I hesitated. I decided I just wasn’t excited about revisiting this same subject right away.
I might paint that hummingbird someday, or maybe not. With distance the answer will come to me.
I’m already working on two other new paintings that I am excited about. I plan to paint whatever subjects intrigue me. My creative instinct tells me to follow my joy.
I end my camellia post with close-ups of the final painting.