Roses, Dahlias, Sweet William and Shea Tree - Watercolor Painting

A very special request came in last week for a custom painting.  The client asked if I would paint a flower-scape that includes Roses, Sweet Williams, Dahlias and a Shea tree. It seems that her mother-in-law has a birthday coming up and her four grandchildren have those flowers/plants in their names.

What a fabulous idea! Of course I agreed. It sounds like fun. And even better, she told me I can do it however I like. Yay!

I did a number of sketches to work out the composition, but there was a problem: a good composition requires one main focal point. Four focal points won't work.

Now I raised three children and I know that you cannot single out just one to be the center of attention in a case like this. So, I needed to come up with something other than the flowers to be the focal point and then paint the flowers around it. I decided to make a garden scene with a fountain. And the fountain will have figurines of four children on it: two boys and two girls. Good? Say yes.

Here is the drawing on watercolor paper - I labeled it so you can see better where things are.

As you can see, the fountain is a bit off-center to make the composition more appealing. The brown tape around the paper holds the painting in place while I paint:

Now to get started painting. As I almost always do, I begin the painting with the background:

Dahlias are perfect for the background. I make the flowers soft-focused by using a wet-into-wet method. Then when dry, I paint a pale wash of blue over everything. This visually pushes the background flowers into the distance so they won't be competing with the flowers up front.

OK, what to do next? I jump to the foreground by painting the roses. This is not only because I want to paint roses first, but also because the roses will give me a good feel for how the rest of the painting should go.

Here I'm giving them some soft washes of pink with shades of blue. They will need many washes of color before they are done, because once the other flowers are painted, the values of the roses will have to be deepened. But this is a good start for now:

Next I paint the Shea tree on the right. It will help me get a feel for the balance of this piece. Here's the first wash:

Adding more color, values and details, we now have this:

Now for the Dahlias:

Dahlias come in many bright colors and pretty markings. This one is magenta with white edges.

I also add a yellow and a coral dahlia plus some flower buds.

Below is the painting so far - lots of pretty color! Notice how the background flowers now seem muted and distant compared to the foreground.

That's it for now. When I come back to this, I'll work on the Sweet William flowers in the foreground and the fountain and patio. See you then!

Click here to see Part 2 - painting Sweet William flowers.

 I'm happy to take custom orders. Please contact me for a custom painting or to have a print made of a painting you like.
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Anonymous said...

Janet, This is going to be exquisite. It has been so fun to watch your growth as a painter over the years. Hugs from Texas, Mikki and Jack

Janet Zeh said...

Thank you Mikki! I'm hoping for exquisite and I do appreciate the encouragement. Hugs back to both of you! Janet