How I painted a bromeliad

Someone on the Yahoo botanical art group asked how I painted this recent submission to the monthly challenge. Luckily I took a few photos as I went, so I am able to show you.

At first I was thinking I'd just do pen and ink. Using a 0.5 pen I drew the outline and did some cross hatching to fill in the main shadows in order to show the shape of the overlapping leaves and bracts. But then I decided that some watercolour washes would be nice. Here is the picture after the inked in outline and the first washes of Winsor and Newton lemon yellow.

Guzmania stage 1

 

I then waited for this to dry. The next stage was to add the red for the bracts. This was a mixture of permanent rose and cadmium red. Areas that I wanted to be light or have the yellow show through I would first dampen slightly with a wash of clean water. Then when the coloured wash hits the water it blends and creates some nice highlight effects.

 

Guzmania stage 2

 

The leaves used the same technique except the green was a mixture of Cerulean Blue and lemon yellow, with French Ultramarine for the darker areas. Its winter here at the moment, so things were drying slowly allowing me to blend and merge to my heart's content while the paint was still wet. Once the leaves were done, further shadows and darks were added with a purple mixed from permanent rose and French ultramarine. Below is the final product:

 

Guzmania stage 3

 

So a total of four colours plus the black pen were used to create this. Total size is about 30x30cm.