Anemones step by step painting


I’ve been looking at these Anemone de Caen flowers. Their warm bright jewel colours are irresistible now at the beginning of February when all is pretty drab and colourless outside. Here is a painting I made last year. I took photos of the different stages. I think it shows quite clearly how you can start with an all over colourful wash and then delve your way into the depths with your darks to make a 3D effect. I love doing this.

The photo I took in my garden as the sun was shining from the left and creating cast shadows on the petals. There are deep darks in among the leaves and these are what I wanted to capture to make the flowers stand out. I was hoping to render the characteristic filigree leaves by painting darks into the negative spaces between them, thus creating their random shapes.

When I look at flowers growing together like this, I am as aware of the dark shapes between them as of the flowers themselves. I am seeing shapes of light and dark.

I started with an all over wash, having wetted the whole page and let the water sink in for a minute. I had drawn a design which I largely ignored as I dropped in the reds, violets, blues and pinks over the flowers and yellows and greens over the leafy areas. I let the colours blend and spread and then allowed this to dry.

At stage 2 my next job was to bring out the flower shapes by using dark mixes. So I painted round the petal shapes and also looked at the leaf shapes “back to front” and saw the negative spaces between them and put my colours in there, bringing out their shapes.


At stage 3 I started working into the main flowers using my photos for reference to render the shadows within the petals. I continued to find more negative shapes between flowers and leaves.

At stage 4, I went into more detail with the flowers in the centre of the painting. I had masked out some of the stamens that were catching the light and so when the masking was removed I was left with some idea of depth within the stamen areas once I had put in the cast shadows. So the stamens stand out with a 3D effect.

In the finished painting the outer flowers are left underworked so that the viewer’s attention will be drawn to the central flowers where the main light is falling.

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