I finally hopped back into—and stuck with—another 30 day art prompt on Instagram.
During the month of April, I joined the #drawriotdaily challenge which consisted of painting or illustrating 30 different flowers. You could design the flower in any way you chose – a lot of people used mixed media, for example. I decided to go primarily with watercolor.
This was a stretch for me, which is interesting to say, when I think it was two years ago I participated in #the100dayproject and created something just about every single day for 100 days. I have definitely stepped back from such intense creative endeavors for quite a while now.
I admit with this current challenge I was getting fed up at times having to bend my schedule around on weeknights and weekends in order to squeeze in another painting (sometimes two!) However, in hindsight, I’m glad I did it. I received far more practice this way in a short time period compared to my sporadic 2 to 5-ish paintings a month.
I did the majority of these paintings in my Moleskine watercolor sketchbook, although the first five or so were in my traditional pocket Moleskine sketchbook. I used them as a quick means to filling and completing that particular sketchbook, and that was the overall goal for the watercolor sketchbook, too.
I still really, really dislike the Moleskine watercolor sketchbook, but after so many paintings in it, I finally grew accustomed to (painfully) working with the awful paper and was for the most part able to accomplish what I was looking for more and more often. Still, I will be glad to be done with that sketchbook once it’s completely filled. I have around 20 more pages (front and back) to fill, though. *cries*
I figured I’d share all my illustrations/paintings from the project for your enjoyment.
As I mentioned previously, I started off with some sketchy paintings in my pocket Moleskine sketchbook. At this point I was trying to find a “style” that I wanted to go with. There was a lot of experimenting, and for several of these I utilized colored pencils (Prismacolor Premier) to fine tune the details since the paper in the pocket Moleskine is definitely not made for watercolor (and I understand this, so this is why you won’t hear me crying about how the traditional Moleskine paper doesn’t do well with watercolor.)
I also jumped around with different watercolor palettes. You may recognize the Kuretake Gansai Tambi watercolor palette in the crocus photo, which was the palette I started with. I then utilized my set of QoR watercolors for a time period, then eventually jumped over to my “beast” palette which contains 48 half pans with mixed brands ranging from more QoR watercolors to Daniel Smith, Winsor & Newton, and Mission Gold.
By working with so many subjects in so many different colors, I got to discover a few favorite shades to work with. Particularly, I really enjoyed using Daniel Smith’s Lunar Violet. It was fantastic for grey tones and I just loved the granulation it provided. (I received a tube of it from winning an art contest a few months ago with Artists Network.)
I accompanied each flower painting with some brush lettering listing the flower name. Not sure I totally care for having that text there, but it is helpful for looking back and recognizing what the flower was for each particular painting. I primarily used my Faber-Castell PITT artist pens for the lettering.
On about my last painting in the pocket Moleskine, (the poppy), I was starting to feel like I’d found a “style” to try and stick with. I was going for kind of loose but with detailed line work around the main shapes. I decided to try the outlining with a metallic marker and then added highlights with white gel pen (sometimes Uni-Ball Signo, sometimes Gelly Roll.)
Pocket Moleskine finished, I reluctantly pulled out my Moleskine watercolor sketchbook thinking “By God, I’m going to finish this dang thing and these paintings will help me get through it!”
I did more experimenting at first. I used the metallic marker some more (Sharpie brand), but then my tax returns came (huzzah!) and I immediately splurged and purchased a set of Finetec Pearlescent watercolors. I’m glad I did because WOW those made a huge difference. Those are some seriously shimmery, beautiful colors.
Towards the end you’ll see that I didn’t outline all of my paintings. Some I felt like they were detailed and defined enough and adding that outline would have just detracted from the image rather than enhance it.
I did attempt to be more loose at first, but as you can see, while I progressed, my style “tightened” back up. (You loose watercolor artists are amazing.) It was fine, however. As long as I was making recognizable flowers, I was happy.
I think I had some of the most fun playing with the backgrounds. A lot of the time I utilized salt and squirts with a fine-mist spray bottle to create texture. A couple of times I even used cling wrap. Vague backgrounds are fun to do – they can remain abstract so there’s not a ton of pressure to get them “just right”, unless they get so busy they start to compete with the main subject of the painting.
I feel I had a few misses with my paintings – some I didn’t care for too much, or some that didn’t come out the way I was hoping they would. The tulip, dogwood, and fritillaria in particular come to mind. But that’s all part of the process. Sometimes you have some real wins, and sometimes you don’t.
My favorite paintings, however, definitely had to be the hellebore and the echeveria. Not surprisingly, these were towards the end of the 30 days so my skills had improved a bit by then (not to mention I finally got into a groove in figuring out how to deal with the Moleskine watercolor sketchbook’s paper.)
I was happy with the details I managed with the hellebore, plus I really admired the gradient colors found in their petals. In fact I was enjoying working on the hellebore so much that I took my time with it and didn’t complete it fully until after two or three days from when I started (it put me behind on the challenge, but so what!) I’m particularly proud that in this painting I didn’t feel like I needed to pull out my colored pencils to finish off any details. It’s 100% watercolor, baby!
The rose and the peony get honorable mentions. I liked the closeup aspect of them, especially with the rose.
I admit I didn’t do three particular flowers. I found that I really disliked working on any flowers that were made up of tiny little clusters of multiple flowers and petals. I did push through most of such flowers, but when I got to a prompt for snowball I decided not to do it. I’m an impatient artist, and tiny flower clusters are labor-intensive in my mind – mostly on the part of sketching out the line drawing. Too many parts! haha
My grande finale was the echeveria (succulent). As you can recall from a previous post, I’ve painted one of these before, and I had just as much fun painting this one as I did the last. This one in particular was fun to add the Finetec embellishment to, as well. It just worked perfectly for the edges and those little blemishes you see on the plant. I just love all the colors found in these beautiful plants, and bright, colorful things are my favorite.
The echeveria was also another reminder to not give up at the start. The colors were looking so crazy at the beginning after I’d applied the second layer on top of my initial wash. I was looking at it thinking I’d screwed up. But I decided I needed to add more shadows and depth and I’m glad I did. Those final layers pulled everything together.
Now the question is, what will I do next? I am going to be out of town for the weekend, so I don’t see myself participating in any particular new challenges just yet. I’m crossing my fingers and hoping I’ll at least be able to get in one or two paintings while on my trip (not sure, though—it sounds like I’m going to be pretty busy!)
In the meantime, I did start working on a small mandala in my pocket Leuchtturm1917 sketchbook. It just felt so freeing to be working strictly in ink. No pulling out paints, preparing water and washing my brush in between areas of the illustration. Just straight ink right down onto the page.
Alas, I know watercolor’s siren call will pull me back, however.
Just what shall I do to fill up the rest of that darn Moleskine?
I hope you feel inspired and the art brings a smile to your face!
Be sure to follow my Instagram account @kellyro77 to stay up-to-date on my creative endeavors.
List of materials:
Contains affiliate links. See disclosure for more info.
Moleskine Art Plus Watercolor Album
Moleskine Art Plus Pocket Sketchbook
Leuchtturm1917 Pocket Hardcover Sketchbook
Kuretake Gansai Tambi Watercolors
Mission Gold Watercolors
Uni-Ball Signo Broad Point Gel Pen
Sakura Gelly Roll Pen, White
Sharpie Metallic Permanent Marker
Finetec Pearlescent Watercolors
Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils
Faber-Castell PITT Artist Brush Pens
Daniel Smith Watercolors