Narcissus Poeticus (Poet’s Daffodil) on Lyth Hill
Narcissus Poeticus is a gorgeous daffodil, that caught my eye on a wander over Lyth Hill. Lyth Hill is a popular walk, with stunning panoramic views of the surrounding Shropshire Hills. Views of the Wrekin, Wenlock Edge, Lawley Hill, Caer Caradoc, Hope Bowdler, Long Mynd, Stiperstones, Earl’s Hill and Pontesford Hill. Have I mentioned enough!?!
Mary Webb Shropshire author and Lyth Hill resident
It is also where the well known author Mary Webb lived and wrote Gone to Earth, inspired by the gorgeous surrounding Shropshire Hills. The Lyth Hill view is the opposing view, we see from our studio. So I felt right at home, walking along Lyth Hill. I originally went to sketch out landscape views. It was a warm sunny day, rare for this time of year, so I decided to make the most of the sunlight and sketched lots.
While there I also looked for individual subjects that might work as smaller paintings. I came across the Narcissus Poeticus sprouting from the verge along the muddy lane. The muddy lane lies along the ridge. We have a muddy lane too.
All palette mixes created from three primary colours
I created five watercolour palette mixes for the Narcissus Poeticus painting. All the colours were mixed from three transparent primary watercolours (red, yellow and blue). I prefer to mix my own colours and it’s a lot cheaper and easier with a limited range of paints. I use professional artist pigments, heavyweight papers and sable brushes.
The Narcissus Poeticus flower heads are very white with a vibrant yellow corona, with vivid orange frills. I painted the coronas first, using the yellow wash, leaving areas in the centre of the daffodils for the stamens. More layers of yellow wash were applied, to create a stronger colour.
Next I used the vibrant orange mix to paint the edges of the Narcissus Poeticus corona. Again as each layer dried I added another layer, to create depth of colour. Then using the brown mix I painted the tops of the stems. I then used the green mix to paint the stems and to paint around the stamens and the base of the coronas.
How to paint white without using white watercolour paint
When you are painting white, without white paint, you are painting everything but the white. Therefore you are observing the shapes of the petals, do they concave or convex, do they fold or bend. Next you observe the shadows lying across the petals and where the shadows are darker. Do the shadows have a warm yellow tone or a colder blue tone?
Sometimes painting is more about observing than painting. Don’t be in a rush to paint where you need to leave areas of white. If you make a mistake, you won’t be able to undo it.
I used a grey mix with a slight blue tone for painting the white petals. I started with the Narcissus Poeticus flowerhead on the left, so I didn’t work over the petals. Most of the shadows were in lines from the centre of the flower to the petal edge. I built the layers of grey wash slowly, constantly observing the petals. Some petals had short shadow lines from the edges of the petals. I added more washes where I felt the shadows were stronger.
Mary Webb (author and poet)
It seemed only fitting to paint the Narcissus Poeticus on Lyth Hill as a tribute to Mary Webb, for her wonderful books and poems depicting nature. Narcissus Poeticus is also known as the Poet’s Daffodil.