How to paint a realistic stripy patterned orchid in watercolor

How to paint a realistic stripy patterned orchid in watercolor


In this little tip video I wanted to show
you how to go about painting the stripes on this patterned phalaenopsis orchid. It might look simple, but with watercolour,
you can always run the risk of painting too dark, and then not being able to lighten things
up, and the same goes for these stripes. It would be quite easy to paint them either
too light or too dark. Because tone is relative, the way that we
judge if the stripes are too light or too dark is by comparing them to the tones immediately
around them – in this case the white of the petal which is why painting the stripes is
as much about painting the space around the stripes as the stripes themselves. So we start as always with an outline drawing
based on a photograph and I draw in the most prominent stripes lightly with pencil. I begin by painting the shadow areas on the
petals lightly with very watery grey paint – adding in yellow ochre or violet where needed.
This helps to give the petals from. Once the background in the painting as well
as the flower stems have been darkened, it is easier to see how much darker the petal
shadow areas can be taken and I add another layer of the watery grey mixes to those parts
that need it. The paper is completely dry by now so no muddying or bleeding occurs. Next I paint the dark, patterned flower centres,
and again, this allows me to then see how much darker I can paint the petals, and I
apply another layer to them, making sure I’m careful to soften any hard line edges I might
get with the paint. Finally I’m ready to paint the stripes.
The stripes are quite dark in tone, meaning the paint will need to be used fairly thick.
So if I hadn’t spent the time gradually darkening the white petals I would have found
I would have had to darken the petal around them and doing this with the watery grey paint
could have caused the stripes to bleed. I use my tiny brush and apply the purple paint
in rough jaggedly lines to match what I see in the photograph. And I change both the consistency
of the mix, and the colours in the purple mix to make the colour lighter or darker in
tone, to match the stripe I’m working on and making sure I get lighter towards the
edges. The stripes are so dark that , even though
I really tried to get the white parts of the petals as dark as they should have been before
I painted them, it’s only once the stripes are painted that I can see how much darker
to paint some of the areas around them. So I go back to my watery grey mix, but this
time use a smaller brush and carefully apply the paint around the stripes where the stripes
are darkest and therefore most likely to bleed. So by gradually building up in layers I can
accurately assess and paint the stripes, and crucially, the colours around them too. A full step-by-step tutorial of this orchid
is available as part of my online school and there’s also another free tip video available,
showing you how to paint this textured background.

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