|Pink Lady Slippers (Cypripedium acaule), watercolor, 16"h x 13"w.|
I'd been wanting to paint a grouping of Pink Lady Slipper orchids ever since I came across that amazing patch in the forests of Fort Valley a few years ago. I finally started on my painting just before Christmas. I used the same process as usual: start with a pencil drawing, refine it, do some shade and shadow studies, and ink the line drawing to transfer onto the watercolor paper. This time I skipped the light and shadow study, since the photo I'm working from seemed fairly straightfoward. The flowers in my photo already composed nicely into an arc, and the leaves surrounding them set off the flowers well.
The challenge here was to select a palette that uses the transparent watercolor pigments I've been transitioning toward. With the old palette from Brookside Gardens, I would have used Permanent Rose for my red; the closest equivalent to this pigment is Quinacridone Coral. Other primary equivalents were Indrathrene Blue and Vanadium Yellow, and I added Quinacridone Gold for the brownish tones of the sepals and petals and Bright Blue Violet for the magenta veins.
|Step 1: washes on the flowers and leaves|
The flowers were so tempting that I painted the two on the left in just a few passes, before even getting some washes on the leaves.
|Step 2: building up the color|
As I began to refine the leaves, I used a new brush, a Neef comb, which has these great "teeth" to make thin parallel lines, very useful for painting vein patterns. I'm almost finished, but I'm going to let this painting sit around in my studio for a while, to see if I need to add anything. Maybe a hint of some of the missing petals on some of the flowers, darkening a few parts of the shadows?
I intend to enter this painting in the BASNCR group show organized by the Richmond area artists, "Ancarrow's List: Native Plants By the River's Edge" which will be exhibited at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, VA.