In this article I will be describing the steps I follow when painting a Calla Lily flower, flowers being one of my favorites subjects to paint (together with horses, portraits and abstracts). When I am watering the garden and see a flower that inspires me, I grab my phone and take many photos of it. I love spring time, when you can see from one day to another how flowers appear and change over time. I keep tons of photos to choose from when it comes time to single one out to paint.
Choosing a topic is the first step in producing a painting, what is important is to be conscious of why you are choosing the subject, it is the message or story that you want to tell or express. From here you choose the path you are going to follow, what is the focal point, what do I want to focus on; for example, in this painting I was attracted by the delicacy of the flower and the contrasts and texture of it. I have to focus on expressing that.
I only draw the areas where color and values changes, and then apply masking fluid to keep my whites pristine. While the masking is drying, I chose my colors. In my mind I have the tonal value sketch, sometimes I draw it, to see if it works. Sometimes I edit the photo and put it on black and white. Does it work? Does it have enough contrast, movement, balance, etc.
Next it is very important to choose the right color scheme and the right colors! I love color, so I cannot be on the 12 color palette team, I like to play and test all colors out there. When you choose your color, you can go with one pigment color or you can combine your own colors, I try to use both, but most important is always having warm and cool colors, if I am choosing a pink or red, I always include a warm pink and cool pink, a warm red and cool red. In this example I have warm blues, greens and yellows and cool versions, this helps you with the depth and 3D effect in the painting.
The colors I chose for this painting were Mayan Yellow, Quinacridone Gold, Quinacridone Burnt Orange, French Ultramarine, Phthalo Blue (GS), Mayan Dark Blue, Cobalt Violet and Payne’s Blue Gray, and a little bit of Permanent Alizarin Crimson.
Remember in this case texture was important for me, so I chose French Ultramarine because it is a granulating color. Generally, I choose transparent colors, in this case all of them are transparent except Payne’s Blue Gray which is semi-transparent. I used table salt to add texture in the yellows.
I start by wetting the areas I will work in, working wet on wet, adding more water with the spray bottle. Starting with light colors in the first layer. In this case there are two steps in the first layer. First applying yellows and letting them dry completely and then applying a glaze of light blues, if you don’t let the yellows dry you will end up with green, instead of yellow glowing through the blue. Then I let it dry completely. I take off the masking fluid after this step. Working in two or three more layers, every time letting the paper to dry completely and then re wetting it again. For the final details I work dry on wet.
It is important to lay bright colors under the darks, in this case yellows and bright greens to make darks glow. At the end paint the shadows and the darkest darks. Then judge the values and stand back to see the whole painting, and ask yourself, does it need any adjustment?
—Claudia Díaz Hernández
Why I love DANIEL SMITH Watercolors
“While looking for original and different colors, I encountered the DANIEL SMITH Extra Fine Watercolor series. With more than 250 colors to choose from, it was difficult at first to limit my selection and bring together a basic palette. The colors presented here allow me to execute landscapes, portraits, flowers, abstract compositions, and more…accomplishing transparent and luminous artworks. The special intensity of the “Mayan” series revive the colors used by the Mayan culture to embellish murals and sculptures. Most of the colors included in my selection are transparent and very permanent; some granulate too. I invite you to try the wonderful range of colors that DANIEL SMITH offers; from the Quinacridones to the Duochromes and Luminescents.”
—Claudia Díaz Hernández
Permanent Alizarin Crimson
Cobalt Blue Violet
Phthalo Blue (GS)
Cobalt Teal Blue
Phthalo Green (BS)
Phthalo Yellow Green
Quinacridone Burnt Orange
Mexican watercolor artist passionate about color and water, member of the Mexican Society of Watercolorists. I´ve participated in national and international exhibitions and my works are also part of several private collections in Mexico, Canada, the US, and London. Active promoter of the watercolor technique within Mexico.