Defeated by the primroses?

I am attempting to paint the primroses. Why!?! as I don’t really have any emotional connection to them. For the sake of learning.
photo of primroses
I came to the conclusion that seeing a professional artist paint outweighs reading any number of the instructional books. The books are unable to show how much water the artist adds to the pigment; how she holds the brush, how he touches the paper, etc. Back in Melbourne I researched potential watercolour classes before admitting to myself that I don’t have the time or the money to commit to the regular classes. So I went to the library and browsed through the available DVDs on the watercolour painting (sadly there wasn’t many) and left with the two DVDs by Ann Blockley “Flower Painting Through the Seasons” and “Flowers in Watercolour”. I watched them and felt that I picked up some useful information, but watching isn’t enough to truly learn and therefore I’m attempting to paint some of the same flowers before re-watching the DVDs.

First I did a quick pen sketch to start getting to know these flowers; followed by two watercolour sketches, both done on Saunders Waterford cold pressed paper with Winsor & Newton Cotman watercolour. First one was overworked.
Watercolour of primroses
Second was slightly more pleasing, but under-worked and didn’t look at all like the primroses.
Watercolour of primroses
A slow pencil sketch in the Moleskine watercolour sketchbook to try to figure out where the lights and darks are. I haven’t sketched with the pencil for a very long time – it required patience and discipline to push through the distractions and the initial reluctance to slow down.
Pencil sketch of primroses
A quick coloured pens sketch just for fun.
Coloured pens sketch of primroses
Third attempt at the watercolour on Fabriano cold pressed watercolour paper – better, but still overworked and still doesn’t look like primroses.
Watercolour of primroses
I think I know where I am going wrong (that must be a step forward), so I will have to attempt another version (or two) before admitting the defeat.


12 thoughts on “Defeated by the primroses?

  1. WDC

    My apologies just a clarification. Looking back I think my comment was a bit to vague. Can you use this comment instead please? 🙂 (and this part may be removed)

    When I do flowers in watercolor I do each one seperately,and let them dry before the next one.
    Start with wetting the paper, and then add a deep rich color in a small part. Let it flow smoothly, softly pulling color with different sizes of brushes depending on the effect. For example veins or a smooth gradient, and then carefully build layers upon that.

    The deep rich purple can make it really difficult not to under/ overload on color I find, but when you get it right the effect is stunning. I use Rembrandt watercolors for flowers myself.

      1. WDC

        You’re welcome. I’m learning watercolors myself, and the correct wetness of the paper still has me confounded. There are definitely some good books out there, and YouTube has some good videos as well.

        Watercolor purple can be a really difficult color as well. It’s very rich but can blog easily leaving marks. Yellow, orange and pink I find a bit more forgiving. It is an absolutely beautiful color to paint with so I can understand why you picked it.

        Also Anne Buckley style may look simple at the eye, but it is very advanced. Although whenever I watch a watercolor tutorial I am amazed by how ‘easy’ it looks. Practice is a lot more difficult. Just have fun with it is the advice I always got.

      2. Zoya Post author

        It is amazing how easy some artists make it look, isn’t it. Hopefully with a lot of practice we’ll reach the same level of mastery. Best of luck with your own learning journey.

  2. anniekitching

    It seems to me that with the second one you capture the color wonderfully well, but it is underworked, certainly. To my eye (which is admittedly uninformed) the first one isn’t overworked, but it looks like deep red primroses. Actually, the leaves of primroses seems a bit “overworked” by God, so for me you really captured them. What rather amazes me about this post and your artwork is how effective your watercolors are compared to your pencil work. I think watercolor is so darned difficult that this just floors me. You have such a way with that medium.

    1. Zoya Post author

      Annie, thank you for such detailed feedback. It is always interesting to hear what others think and feel when looking at my work. I find that I’m able to judge my own work much better after some time has passed (a month or two).

  3. jotsfromasmallapt

    Me, too. Your artwork…love it!!
    I’m learning, too. Don’t give up because then I’ll have to, as well….and…
    I’m just not ready to give up that particular fight to “proficient painter”…


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