I came across a photo taken taken by a guy called Clay Perry in a book on tulips. He is a great flower photographer and any gardening books with his name given as the photographer always finds it way to my bookshelf! I had no intention of painting a botanical replica, but I thought it was a useful starting point.
'From 'Tulip' by Liz Dobbs
Photo by Clay Perry
I started with a simple line drawing of 3 tulips, using the photo as a vague guide. I began the painting by using Pyroll Red and Indian Yellow and lots of water to complete the three tulips.
The stems and leaves were painted using Apatite and Sap Green, with a little Indian Yellow in places, and the markings on the leaves were created whilst the paint was still quite damp, using a twig of Forsythia which has been sharpened to a point with a pencil sharpener.
At this stage I felt the painting was a little too tight, so using plenty of water and the same colour combination, I added patches of colour which I teased into less obvious tulips. I then needed to add the appropriate stems and some additional leaves.
All that remained, was to tackle the background. I erased all the pencil lines that I could, and then using combinations of Apatite Green Genuine, Indigo and Indian Yellow, I washed in parts of the background, keeping the colours strong behind the flowers in the middle and more varied around the edges.
I kept adding washes and darkening corners until I was happy with the strength of the background.
I finally mixed a little Pyroll Red with a tiny amount of French Ultramarine Blue, and used this mixture to darken some parts of each tulip as shadow areas. This is not too evident in the photo but looks stronger in the original painting.
Watercolour on Fabriano Artistico Extra White
300g Not. 35 x 50cms