mimosa painting

Wattle painted using gouache and watercolour by Linda MacAulay

This month I wanted to talk about just how important it is to play and have fun as an artist. Its also wattle season and our country is awash with yellow so l thought I would do a small step by step painting of wattle featuring watercolour and gouache.

Kids learn by playing but as adults we forget to play. When painting we sometimes get so caught up in trying to produce a successful artwork that we miss the opportunities to experiment and learn. Some of my best ideas come out of a “play’ session in the studio. I love the opportunity to experiment with new products and techniques. Whenever I get bored with my work I know it is time to mix things up a bit. I might try to use a limited colour palette, a new medium or to paint in a different style.

Whenever you are working with a new technique set aside some time to just to play with it. Try not to think about finishing a painting but just have fun. I prefer to do a few little things first as a warm up before I launch into a whole painting. Then I will not be disappointed if it does not turn out. Try painting a few greeting cards in the technique to get a feel for it. This way you have not invested so much time and money into a finished product. If they turn out…that’s fabulous and you have some great gift cards and if they don’t you just throw them out and move on. We rarely buy cards in our house as there is a whole box of my “experiments” to use.
The most important thing is just to have fun.

Wet the background and quickly lay in some Cobalt Blue and Turquoise. My hand is blurred as I am working very fast

Partially mix some Cobalt Blue with Raw Sienna on the palette and a little water. The trick is not to over-mix and make mud.

Now use the mix on the wet background to paint in the background leaves. Try to keep it loose at this stage.

The finished background leaves with some spaces left for the wattle.

The partially mixed colours separate out in the wet background to create more interest.

Here I have dropped in some wattle flowers using Yellow gouache with a small amount of water. Notice how the gouache is bleeding to create a fuzzy look.

You have to work very fast to add in all the wattle while the paper is still wet. Notice the sheen along the top edge of the painting. Its not too wet or dry. I am holding my brush quite upright and just using the point to drop the colour in.

Once all the flowers are in I add some more of the green mix to add some in focus leaves. I also add a bit of Permanent Magenta and Cobalt Blue mix for some extra darks in the foliage.

Painting the nail holes

Here I am adding some white Gouache to the centre of the wattle flowers. This little bit of light makes the flowers appear more rounded. It needs to be done while the flowers are still wet.

Painting a straight line

This close-up shows the yellow and white gouache feathering. Its important not to put too much water in your gouache mix or it will run too far without creating feathers.

Frog outline

In this close up you can see it has bled a little too much on the top left. This is because the background here was wetter than the rest.

Painting the frog

The finished painting. The key to getting this to work is having the background not too wet and the gouache not too watery. Its a fine line that takes a little practice.

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