Lily of the Valley 2 Step-By-Step – October 1, 2016 Progress

Hello everyone! I am back with another recent floral subject. Lily of the valley. This is a flower that blooms in a giant carpet in my backyard and is beautiful to behold. So short, it is elegant with its soft white bell-shaped blooms and striated leaves. For those of you who don’t know, they are also a flower associated with Mary. So, this is appropriate and meant to be for me, as October is the month of the Rosary. Just a little tidbit for any of you who are interested. Besides, it never hurts to pray every day. The world could always use a bit more peace, as do we.

Enough of that. I am becoming more meticulous with keeping track of my progress through a painting. Phones make it convenient to take a quick snap before leaving something to dry. Otherwise I would never get my chores and housework done. (Did I mention I am renovating a potential studio/study space all on my own? It is a time-consumer. :))img_3267-1

I like the idea of using a color-swatch to choose my paints before beginning. This time, it was relatively simple, and I used only 4 colors: Pyrrhol Red, Permanent Yellow Deep, Cobalt Blue, and Phthalocyanine Blue. It would have been only 3 colors, but halfway through I realized I had switched blues. So there. It happens. 🙂


First thing is deciding on the colors. Next is the sketch. I use photos from the internet as my subjects and change the composition accordingly. Then I step back and see how is the best way to approach each painting. In this case, I wanted a lot of washes in the back but wanted to avoid leaving too much white surrounding my lilies. So, I decided to paint the delicate lily focus first, mask it out with some Masking Fluid (I used some Winsor Newton brand I had close at hand) and let that dry.

After that, I began to work on the leaves. Because I didn’t just want a lot of greens, making it overly monochromatic, I thought to myself – “why not just use warm and cold colors to make it more interesting?” So that is what I did. I wanted soft transitions for the underpainting, so I pre-wet the leaf areas one at a time and dropped in the color. I lifted out several times and adjusted as the paper slowly dried. I did this for each individual area.

keeping it interesting

I wanted a lot of contrast as well, so I made some deep purples and dropped those in right away, without counting on a lot of layering, basically to see what happened. I wanted the flowers to stand out, so I made it darker surrounding the blossoms wherever I could. I also wanted them to glow a bit, so I lifted some of the paint from around them where I could.

I added more details to the leaves and then removed the masking fluid. What has originally been some nice subtle shadows on the flowers seemed like nothing at all, so I worked on the shadows again, keeping it warm on one side and cooler on the other, to give them some shape. Finally, I added some more detail to the stem. During this time, I also used some White Gouache to help with some highlights and to redefine some of the edges that were not masked as well as I thought they were. It is a bit of a crutch used like this, I know, but I did try to reserve some more whites this time.

I decided on the small signature on this 5×7″.

Overall, it is closer to what I wanted to achieve than I thought, once I step back and think about it. Not too bad at all. As the painter, I always will judge it too harshly, perhaps, but that is what drives me to be better. I know I will try again sometime in the near future.

The initial scan. See the difference?

Just keep painting and experiment. No one will do it for you. We all have to start somewhere.


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