Orange Poppies -September 27, 2016 Progress

I cannot just leave behind my lovely new discovery of Pyrrhol Red by M. Graham. Thus, I find myself searching for subjects into which I can incorporate the lovely hue through blending or through its purest essence.

Long story short – I found some more poppies, they spoke to me, I painted them. That’s it. Well, there was a little bit more to it, actually. I remembered to take pictures of the various steps to show my progress and thinking process during the actual painting.


  • 1 9×12 inch piece of 140lb Arches hot press
  • paints
    • permanent yellow deep (Holbein)
    • prussian blue (M. Graham)
    • Pyrrhol Red (M. Graham)
    • Burnt Umber (M. Graham)
  • water
  • HB pencil


I am pleased with my progress of truly lessening the colors I use for each painting. I find a set of the primaries works well for most situations, and using artist grade paints makes it easy and pleasurable to mix them and create every color you need, and even some you didn’t know you wanted.

This was also the first painting that I made using a ceramic plate as my palette. Everything was mixed on the plate. I did get the paints from my palette, which remained a mess from my last painting, the Ladybug and Rosemary piece. However, I could get large puddles of color on the plate, and it was effortless to mix them together and get them to flow nicely. I am learning that the key to laying large washes is to have a lot of color to pick up right at the tip of your brush.

Back to it. I first used a reference image of several flowers, which I shifted around a bit in my head until I knew what I wanted. I then used an HB pencil to make my sketch. Mostly it was just the outline of the flowers. The rest I left blank.

I started by wetting the blossoms and just dropping in red and yellow to get a soft transition of colors. I let it dry.


After I checked and it is dry, I started on the background with various mixes of the primaries to yield light tones of greens and browns. I didn’t want blossoms, so I ended up doing the whole thing in pieces. Whenever I ran out of paint to draw from, I would just mix some up and start again near the border of the last wash. I knew it wouldn’t matter because I was planning on some negative painting in the background. Those white lines would not be so obvious later on.

Finally, it was just a series of negative painting to get the suggestion of undergrowth and foliage surrounding the flowers. To make it easy for me, I sketched in the lines of the leaves and such on the bone-dry paper with the preliminary underpainting on it. Then, I just mixed a stronger set of washes and dropped in various colors as I drew the wash across the paper. I flicked some clean water in various places in order to get some texture going and make it more interesting and homogenous.


After I was happy with my foliage, I wanted to make the flowers pop out more, so I put in some of my darkest darks here and there to define them and push the background back a bit. It seemed to work for the most part. After that, I worked on defining the flowers themselves a bit more. I didn’t want to spend too much time crushing myself because I couldn’t get it perfect. Instead, I focused on making sure that they still looked like flowers. I wanted their color to be bright, pure, have shape and petals, and really just to pop. They are the focus.


Let everything dry, sign it. Let that dry. Peel back the tape, and voila!


What do you think? I am a beginner just like most people. Perfection is far off, but the progress is real. Check it out for yourself in my gallery. Every time I painted something, I thought it wasn’t so bad. However, looking back now to my earlier works, I cringe. However, for the sake of keeping this blog real and continuing to meet my goal with showing my readers the progress that can be achieved from someone who never picked up a paintbrush, they will stay up, forever. There, I said it. It is going to happen.

Anyway, stay tuned! I started as Square One, too. Go at your own pace, but know that you can expect no progress if you never pick up the brush!


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