Red Camellia – abandoned yet thriving
I discovered the the Red Camellia on one of my sketch wanderings. You never know what you will find off the beaten track. I love to discover old ruins, abandoned buildings and overgrown gardens. It’s surprising the plants you find still thriving, in old disused gardens.
So out on a walk/wander through an overgrown wood, I came across remnants of sandstone walls. They looked as if they may have been part of an outbuilding or dwelling, long ago. As I walked along part of a dirt path and through undergrowth I came across a taller section of sandstone wall. I went towards the wall and behind it and as I looked back, saw the stunning Red Camellia, thriving and shining in the sunlight.
Painting a deeper red with watercolours
To paint the Red Camellia I created four watercolour palette mixes, a yellow, a red, a green and a blue. First I applied pale layers of red to the petals. The centre of the Camellia was left unpainted, ready for the yellow stamens later. As each layer dried I applied another layer of red wash. I left the edges of the petals after the first layers of pale red wash. This would help create distinction between the petals.
It was important to let each layer dry, before adding another. This creates smoother layers of watercolour paint. I added more red pigment to the mix as I built the layers. Each layer adds a rich tone of colour to the petals.
When painting the yellow stamens, I left areas of white, by creating lines of yellow wash. I applied a few layers of yellow to achieve a stronger depth of colour.
Once the yellow layers had dried I applied the final red washes to the inner areas of the petals. This gave a stronger rich red tone against the pale red washes on the tips of the petals.
How to paint shiny leaves with watercolour
The above Red Camellia is a watercolour sketch and not a full blown detailed watercolour. Therefore the leaves do not have all the veins painted or every feature painted. Nevertheless you can still achieve a sense of shine on the leaves.
After studying the leaves I knew which areas of the leaves I had to leave paler than the other parts of the leaves. I then applied the first layers of a pale blue wash to the leaves. Then I added a deeper pale blue wash to the outer edges of the areas I wanted to leave lighter.
Next I created a dark green watercolour mix for the leaves. I painted a two parallel lines along the leaves to represent the main vein, leaving a gap between the lines. Then the main veins on the leaves were painted. Then I started to build layers of green wash around and along the veins of the leaves. I left the areas of pale blue wash. Finally layers of green wash were applied to the outer edges of the leaves
Red Camellia adding shadow
Finally I used the blue wash to create a grey/black mix for the shadow. The mix was painted around the yellow stamens and on the inner parts of the petals. It is always important to study how much shadow a flower has. Too much dark black shadow and the shape and tone of a flower painting can be ruined.