Starting to paint my painting — or practising for the practice piece!

I am going to create a watercolour painting of my plant from Menindee, Cullen discolor. I have already written about identifying it, and the Beckler’s Botanical Bounty Project that I am involved in.


Cullen discolor growing at Menindee. It loves the sandy red soils.
Cullen discolor growing at Menindee. It loves the sandy red soils.
A small section of the stem that I will eventually paint.
A small section of the stem that I will eventually paint.

Now to show you some of the process.

I am still a developing watercolour artist, and feel much more comfortable with pencil than a paint brush. I have begun with a practice piece, as I have to work my way through the colours and techniques that I will need for the final painting.

Actually, before that, I want to show you some detailed drawings of parts of C. discolor. These were from the live specimens I had when working in Menindee. I wanted to get as much visual information as possible while I still had the living plant.

Drawings from my sketch book
Drawings of C. discolor, from my sketch book

I needed to match the colours as accurately as possible while I had the specimen before me. I made various mixes and recorded the paints I had used. You can also see some of my notes and reminders.

IMG_6682 IMG_6683

Then I began the practice piece. Actually, it was the practice practice piece. As I was painting it I had a crisis of confidence, as I had forgotten how to paint with watercolour washes and do dry brush work. All I could remember were the faults with my technique, especially rushing to the detail too quickly and too much water.

After I had calmed myself down, I went back to basics. That’s the bigger leaf in this painting. I went bigger, slower and thought about what I was doing with each stroke. That helped me to understand how I needed to approach the work. And helped me realise that I could do this after all!

The practice practice painting.
The practice practice painting.

Thank heavens it was not the final, large work on the good (read expensive) paper! Finally I felt ready to begin the real practice painting.

The practice painting -- still to be finished, but almost there.
The practice painting — still to be finished, but almost there.

I still have to finish this painting. Obviously the stems need to be painted in. The leaves need more work, which involves a lot more dry brush work. And they need highlights added to their edges. However, I am happy I have captured the texture of the leaves. (Remember, part of the identification for C. discolor is that the leaves are tomentose to hispid —  rough, with hairs between stiff and soft/matted.) As well, I think I understand how to paint the furriness of the inflorescences. But the proof is in the pudding, as they say! Stay tuned for progress reports.


11 Comments Add yours

  1. Hedera says:

    Fascinating process Anne! It’s not an easy subject and I think you doing a wonderful job so far. Best of luck 🙂


    1. anneb54 says:

      Thanks for the encouragement. It will certainly take time — and probably a number of brushes — but I am enjoying the challenge.


  2. metan says:

    Looking forward to seeing more of this!


    1. anneb54 says:

      Now that I have made my efforts public I will have to keep going! I have a terrible habit of bouncing from one project to another — but not on this one! (I hope…)


      1. metan says:

        Good luck 🙂


  3. beverlydyer says:

    Anne! Lovely…and I so enjoy seeing one’s process. Thanks for coming by the Art Prescription! Happy Painting. I’ve just started this new project – Haiku O Gram – would love you to participate!
    Let me know if you have questions!


    1. Anne Lawson says:

      I always love reading your haiku and seeing your paintings. I appreciate your support of my work. I will check out your Haiku O Gram project.


  4. Denise says:

    So interesting Anne to see the process at work, it looks great and I’m sure you will do a fantastic job. I’m a big fan of all your work.
    I especially love the tones in the Cullen, mmm perylene green might be my new favourite…
    Keep at it, you are so skilled.


    1. anneb54 says:

      I’ve actually done some work on the proper painting. I will get around to posting some photos of it — soon!


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