My mom always takes the most lovely pictures of sunflowers. I’ve wanted to paint this one for a while, so I tried it in digital watercolor in Painter.

I have not yet mastered those darn digital watercolors.

What always throws me is the way the color drips down the canvas before it ‘dries’. So painting with them is kind of unpredictable, but not the same way that real watercolors are unpredictable. Real watercolors stay pretty much within the area you wet on your paper, and you can paint fine details with a ‘bead’ of water on your brush. Not so with digital.

I think I’ll redo these in some other brush type, like the oil pastels. One that I’m good at.

I’ve been in a slump lately, both from lack of iron and lack of sunlight. We’re having our Tule (too-lee) fog in California right now, and when you’re used to the sunlight, going for weeks and weeks without it gets to you after a while. But today the fog blew out of the valley and I’m feeling sunny.

…and flowers

I toyed with the elf chick’s eyes quite a bit tonight.

Too big.

A little better.

And then loads and loads of flowers.

Click for fullview

I now have the world’s worst artist cramp. Similar to writer’s cramp, except that instead of your fingers being all sore, it’s the entire back of your hand and your palm.

Hydrangea challenge

I just discovered the blog Inspiration All Around Us. They post art challenges every two weeks, and you can paint whatever the challenge is and submit it.

When I popped in and discovered the site, it was because another lady artist I watch had done a painting for the challenge.

Here’s the photo we’re supposed to paint:

Here’s the monstrosity I cobbled together this evening.

I was trying to capture the colors as I see them, and also suggest the shape of the blooms without actually drawing every last petal. It needs quite a bit more work, but I’m pleased with the way it’s going. Kind of fun doing an art challenge of something I don’t usually draw, like an annoyingly complex compound flower. 🙂

Chunky painted hollyhock

I sat down to do an impasto paint sketch, because they’re very relaxing. And Painter immediately crashed. I forgot how much it hates the impasto brushes.

So I squeaked by with the Oils > Wet Brush instead. Nice smeary colors without the impasto effect.

Hollyhocks have very thin, papery petals, and my reference photo had very crumpled petals. I was trying to indicate both the veiny texture of the petals, and their crumpled edges. I think this would be fun to paint in real media on a canvas about three feet tall. 🙂

Sunflowers in palette knives

Another stab at playing with black and white underpaintings!

Here’s a sunflower with the values outlined in grayscale. This would be a lot more effective in real media, like oils, but it’s fun to practice digitally. My values were a little close together, so I made the highlights brighter on the colored version.

I wanted to keep this loose and blocky, so I used only palette knives. They’re flat and square, and make flat, square strokes. Making oval-shaped petals is kind of a chore, but ah well, this was just an experiment.

I like the way the values came out so distinct and luminous. Doing the grayscale underpainting gives me a better grasp of how the light is going to fall. I might do this a little more often for bigger, completed works.