Monthly Archives: March 2009

Let’s Paint the Purple Coneflower!

Let’s do what we love best in the whole world…..paint nature!
Are you with me?

This demonstration is  a watercolor painting of a purple coneflower that I grew in my own backyard! Even though this is a summer flower with spring quickly approaching and buds staring to pop, I’ve been crazy about flowers lately.
So here we go…

Step 1:This painting is tiny. It’s about 5×3.5, a good thing to do when you’re limited on time but want to create something quick. I try to do this every weekend. I have a full time job and have a hard time getting things accomplished during the week. If I don’t do some kind of painting on the weekend, even if tiny, I feel real down like a crab-ass. Nobody wants that! If you have a full time job that’s just sucking the life out of you because it does nothing but pay the bills, don’t give up your hobby. FIND the time on the weekend! Don’t let your creative talent die. Enough preaching….
In this step I sketched out my flower using a regular pencil on watercolor paper that I taped down with artist tape. I didn’t even need to wet my paper because it is so small. Next, I mixed 2 drops of Ox Gall (makes your washed more fluid) in my water, wet my brush and made an indigo blue and earth green mixture wash. Loosely paint your background leaving a section of your painting really light (top section in my painting). This gives your painting dimention and life. Take a higher concentration of paint and just touch spots of the wet paper (in mine it’s the bottom of painting and under one petal). 

Step 2: I used rose for the pink petals. Lightly apply the lightest rose color leaving white space for breathing room. Next, while wet add just a few drops of yellow to a few petals. The yellow will mix with the rose creating a nice peach for variation. Let dry for a few minutes and paint another layer of rose to darken some petals.

Step 3: While step 2 is drying, fill in the center with brown and red. Leave white spots so it’s not flat. Add a darker brown for the base of the center. Paint the stem using sap green and mix a little indigo blue for shadow under the flower on the stem.

Step 4: Here I just added another layer of rose and maybe a touch of crimson to a select few petals.

Step 5:In this step I added a purple mixture to the tips of my petals because that’s how it looked in the picture. It does make it stand out a bit more.

Step 6 Final: This step is optional. I used a micron #3 black pen to outline petals, stem, and just a little of the center. I love it but you don’t have to do this if step 5 looks good to you. Do you see the bottom where the green paint is branching out? That is called a “bloom” in the watercolor world. Some watercolor artists avoid this but I can’t get enough of it! I love the way it looks. This happens when you add a lot of water to your pigment. In my painting it looks like distant grasses and I couldn’t be happier.

This little guy is called, “Goldfinch Landing”. The American Goldfinches like to sit on top and eat the coneflower seeds. I welcome them.

I hope you enjoyed this watercolor step by step demonstration of the purple coneflower!


Sunset to Live For

When I saw this scene I had to say…”Whoa!” And take a picture of course!
This picture was taken at Centennial Park in Orland Park, IL. The lake at centennial acts like a mirror reflecting a powerful setting sun on a minimal windy day. How awesome is our planet and temporary home. This will most definitely be a painting one day. I can’t wait to show the step by step.

Earth Hour this Saturday

Don’t forget to participate in Earth Hour this Saturday, March 28, 2009 from 8:30pm-9:30pm. What is Earth Hour? It’s a collection of households and businesses turning off their electricity for one particular hour. Many buildings did so last year and the Chicago skyline was changed! Pretty neat. It’s also neat to see data from the electric company on how much energy was saved. Green is good.

Eastern Towhee Sketch

OH BOY! Look who came to visit me this morning at my house! It’s an Eastern Towhee. The first one I spotted this year. Welcome Mr. Towhee! I first noticed him in my pine tree. At first I thought it was a sparrow, but then noticed his long tail flick several times. Humm…that’s no sparrow. When I got closer to the window I was pleasantly surprised to see this little fellow drop down beneath the tree to scrape the mulch in search of insects or seeds. He was by himself, did not make any calls, and quickly flew away.

What a wonderful Saturday morning surprise!

d=date, t=time, c=weather conditions, and a=area of subject. One important note, when keeping a sketch book or journal make sure you note what day of the week it is next to the date. In 10 years when you look back at your memories you will have no idea what day it was by only looking at the date. It helps.

Migrating Geese

Orland Park, IL

Geese? I think they made a left turn.


This picture was taken after watching thousands of geese migrate at sunset. It looks as if these geese are pointing in the direction of their flight pattern. The interesting part was that every group was flying in the same exact direction, Northwest. Every minute or two another flock flew over the same way! This went on for hours.