Yellow Tulip – layers of smooth watercolour wash
The Yellow Tulip is a tulip growing in our garden. It is a beautiful bright yellow flower, which emerges every year from under a small serviceberry tree (Amelanchier). The tulip is a bright warm yellow tone, that brightens up the undergrowth below the tree.
It was a bright dry day, so I decided to set up the painting equipment outside, in the garden. First I used an old wooden folding chair, that’s on its last legs. Then I overturned a large plant pot (empty of course!) and placed a large roof tile on top for a flat surface area. I’ve used this a few times and its quite effective (at the right height to the small chair). Next I lay my palette mixes on the tile, plus brushes and several jam jars of water. Several means I don’t have to keep fetching water.
Painting smooth watercolour washes
First I created a simple pencil sketch of the petal shapes of the Yellow Tulip. The petals had a smooth yellow colouring with a deeper yellow tone spreading out from the base of each petal.
To achieve a smooth look to the Tulip I started with a pale yellow watercolour mix. Painting all the petals. I left this layer to dry, before adding another layer. I repeated this process several times. Each time patiently waiting for a layer to dry. The washes were very wet. I usually work on another painting, while I wait for layers to dry.
Next I added more pigment to the yellow mix, building a stronger colour. Again I painted more smooth wet washes to the petals. Then I made the mixture a slightly darker tone of yellow for the base of the petals. Using the darker tone, I applied the brush in upward strokes, from the base of the petal to the top.
I tried not to over do the brushstrokes, as I wanted a smooth transition from the dark tone to the lighter tips of the petals.
I used the same smooth process, building layers of green watercolour mix for the stem of the Yellow Tulip. Graduating the layers from light to dark.
Using a heavyweight watercolour paper
I knew I’d be painting lots of watercolour layers for the Yellow Tulip so I chose a heavyweight paper to use. I chose a St Cuthberts Mill Bockingford 425gsm (200lb). It can handle a lot of water washes and I didn’t need to stretch the paper beforehand. Over time I’ve learnt which papers I need to stretch beforehand.
If you use a lighter weight paper i.e 190 – 300gsm (90-140lb) you need to stretch this before painting any heavy watercolour washes and even then the paper can still cockle. Cockling causes the paper to bend and buckle. Even with heavyweight papers you sometimes have a slight buckle when you apply a wet on wet wash, but this should disappear once the wash dries.