Watercolor Water Lily

This is a painting that has been in progress for about two months. The painting time is nowhere near that long. I just kept putting it aside and working on other things in between. When you are busy, and you are making efforts to have something come out well, it is worth it to spend some extra time planning, looking at it, giving it some TLC.

This whole process just makes me recall how I asked on a watercolor forum somewhere, some months ago, how long it takes people to complete a painting. I had become so absorbed in watching the speed paintings and proficiency of painters online that I felt I was taking too long. I was clumsy, my efforts were for naught and I was throwing out a lot of paper. When I read that it would take many weeks for people to ‘complete’ a painting, I guffawed and thought they were either incredibly unskilled like myself, or unmotivated. It just took me a while to gain the experience to understand how this can be. Moral of the story: never predict how long a painting will take or how it will look exactly. There will be stages where you step away and decide something isn’t right, or a ‘happy accident’ occurs that you follow through later. Sometimes your muse just whisks you away to work on something else in the meantime, setting the piece you had been working on to the side.

Been there, done that.

Without more ado, here is how it looks. It is still in the process of drying completely, though, particularly in the dark water shadow in the top right area.


And yes, that is placed on an easel that I made myself in the basement. It looks pretty nice, no? More on that in another post, I promise.

Here is the painting with a mat I cut to capture the composition I was going for. It just proves that I need a bit more planning in the future to incorporate all I want in the viewing space. You live some, you learn some.


I love using the mates because they really produce a crisp, beautiful center of interest that makes the painting shine. It automatically gives it more points.

Now, I had decided to do this painting because I wanted to try my hand at some texture and could always stand to work on my shadows. The picture/photo I was working from also had some water collected on the lily pads, that I hope I was able to render in such a way that you could tell or guess as to their whereabouts without reading this statement first. I am altogether pleased with how it came out, but I know I could do better next time. This is just another step in the ladder. However, I am DEFINITELY making a frame for this one, and I think it will end up under the tree for someone. Yup, not ashamed of this one at all. Besides, if I start the process of giving, maybe someone else will be gracious enough to defray the cost of the materials. Hehe. No one complained of a little patronage every now and then. Actually, they did. But that is not the point. 🙂

The breakdown:

  • 1 piece of 10 x14 Arches 140lb cold press
  • paints (Holbein and M. Graham)
    • cobalt blue
    • pthalocyanine blue
    • burnt umber
    • pyrrhol red
    • yellow deep


As you can see, a limited palette. Something I am growing fond of and that is teaching me much more about mixing and color theory and water control. That seems to be a much bigger contributor to how a piece comes out than the colors/hues selected. And for that final point, I am growing to understand from experience more and more how less/fewer is more.

Let me know the longest stretch of time you have spent on a single painting!


Keep practicing. Keep painting.


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