Hi everyone, today I’m on the Lindy’s Stamp Gang blog with an advanced watercolor project. I created this project for the LSG booth on the NAMTA show in Chicago this year (which unfortunately is postponed because of the Corona virus) and today I’m showing you how you can create this project yourself!
First of all I do recommend, since this is an advanced project, to follow watercolor painting lessons via Anna Mason Art Online School. I had never painted with watercolor paints before taking her lessons and after a few months of practising I (and so can you) could paint a fairly advanced project. Also Anna’s lessons are easy to follow and you don’t need hundreds of colours of paint tubes. There also is a free lesson so you can try out if you like Anna’s style before committing to paying the school fee. I also do recommend using the Anna Mason Brush Set, they are very good quality brushes and work well with the style she teaches.
That being said, if you already have watercolor painting experience take whatever paper and brushes you like and get started!
What do you need to create this project?
- A real life photo (of a flower in my case) to work from, you can print out the photo or work from a screen, I find it helpful to work from my Ipad;
- A drawing to trace on your watercolor paper (or free hand if you like that way better), mine is by Anna Mason Art (this particular flower is one of the lessons in her school);
- Tracing paper or Carbon Transfer Paper to trace the drawing onto the watercolour paper plus a fairly sharp H-graphite pencil;
- If you were heavy handed with the tracing you need a kneaded eraser to make the pencil lines lighter;
- Watercolor paper: I used Arches Watercolour Paper Hot Pressed 300 gr., I’m working on a slightly larger size then A4;
- Watercolor brushes in different sizes, the more detail you are trying to add the smaller the brush you are using;
- Two water containers with clean water;
- A palette to take your pure Lindy’s colors from;
- A mixing palette or porcelain platter to create the mixes that you see in the photo;
- Take a lot of time to create this project (work in blocks of 2 or 3 hours, this project in total took me about 9 hours to create);
- And of course your Lindy’s Stamp Gang colors of choice!
Now, what you do need to know up front, if you don’t know that already, is that Lindy’s products are not watercolor paints, therefore they don’t lift the way watercolor paints would, after they have dried. And lots of Lindy’s products contain shimmer, so it’s better to work in multiple thinned down layers instead of laying the color on heavily, because the shimmer build up will get in your way.
MOST IMPORTANT!: Enjoy the process of creating!
What colors to use?
Of course this depends on which flower or other image you choose to paint. Test out the colors that you have on paper and mix up colors to create the mixes that you will need to create the particular hues and tones that you see your image has in the reference photo. You can do the testing and mixing on cheap watercolor paper, no reason to waste the good stuff on this!
Fairly simple it comes down to mixing the colors that your eyes see in the photo: for this I used my Lindy’s Swatch Book and the information I received in the lessons by Anna as a base.
I added a photo of the mixes I created with the use of the nine Lindy’s Stamp Gang colors I used on today’s project.
I picked the colors for my later layers based on what my project looked liked after the first layers. In my case I felt the pinkish tones in the flowers needed something extra, as well as that some parts needed to be a bit more aubergine toned rather then purplish to make them stand out more.
You will probable need to create several of these mixes more then once so it is handy to write down what colors you used to create a certain mix and in what amounts, and each time you create this mix test on a piece of scrap paper if it indeed looks like the color in the photo, of the area that you are going to paint next. That being said, if you have left over mixes or dried up paint in your pure palette, than you can easily activate this dried up color by spraying water on the pigment.
For today’s project I’m using ONLY nine Lindy’s Stamp Gang colors:
- Golden Sleigh Bells Magical (for the stamen);
- Greased Lightnin’ Green Spray (for the stalk);
- Edelweiss Moss Green Spray (for the stalk);
- French Lilac Violet Spray (for the flowers);
- Urban Amethyst Spray (for the flowers);
- Open Arms Amethyst Spray (for the flowers);
- Tweedle Dee Denim Spray (for the flowers);
- Buccaneer Bay Blue Spray (mostly the part without the blue shimmer) (for the stamen);
- Midnight Rendezvous Magical (to create overall darker tones).
Once the drawing in traced onto the watercolor paper you can start your painting project by creating your first mixes, that you can see in the photo, as you have tried them out. As you can see the pure colors after mixing are thinned down a lot with water.
In this step I’m going to lay down first all the lightest colors that I can see in the photo: where are the pinkish purple hues, where are the blueish purple hues, where are the gray blue hues, where are the lighter green tones and the stamen.
Work with a larger sized brush (I worked with the largest brush in the Anna Mason Brush set) and do remember that you have to work fairly fast to not create harsh edges, once dry it’s dry! This is mostly important in the very lightest area’s where you are not going to add many additional layers over the first one.
After every area has it’s first layer on, add some more layers of these same thinned down mixes to the parts that are darker, as you see them in the photo (technically you are now working on the mid-tones but with lighter thinned down layers). The darkest parts in this step are about five layers on the paper. To finish this stage is about four hours of painting for me (a more experienced painter might be faster).
Create your mixes for the deepest darkest shadows: I mainly used the Lindy’s colors that I picked for the first layers but now with less water added. Also skip to a smaller brush size, but not a detail brush.
Notice that I jumped over the mid-mid-tones (those between the lightest tones/the mid-tones and the deepest darkest shadows)?
We are going to put them in later on, now first add the darkest shadows to the paper and in the next step I work on the mid-mid-tones and the details.
Also keep in mind that what colors I will add to the paper will be muted by whatever color is already on the paper in that area. When I feel confident about what I’m creating I start adding in some of the textures/markings that I can see on the flowers.
In the photo I’m working of not all parts of the flowers are in focus, especially the most right hand flower is very out of focus in the photo, so mine is as well.
At this point shimmer particles are starting to build up and I have to be very careful how much paint and how many layers I’m going to add after this.
This stage is about 10 layers of paint in the darkest area’s (and about 7 hours of painting). What I also noticed is that because the paper is very saturated at this point I do am able to lift some of the paint slightly in the darkest area’s that I might want to have a touch lighter. This was a very nice surprise for me! I added water to the area’s that I wanted to make slightly lighter, using the largest brush and clean water, let it sit for a couple of seconds and dab of the water by pressing (not rubbing) on the area with a clean paper kitchen towel. Work on one small area at a time.
I’m not going to add any new colors in this stage. This stage is mostly looking at your reference photo if you missed any important details, but even more looking at your painting, did you miss any area’s (I found that I somehow completely missed to paint the stamen of the most left open flower!), and also look carefully where you have to add the mid-mid-tones (not the lightest tones but not the darkest tones as well). What does your particular project need to make it shine?
At one point I also let go of the reference photo and looked only at my painting to see if I needed to add any shadows where I felt they were needed, or make some area’s darker to create more contrast, or add more details (using the smallest brush in the set) to finish the project. My painting is hence not photo-realistic but I totally love how this project turned out!
You, as a viewer, might not be able to see much difference between this stage and the previous one but the small little shadows and details that I added do make a difference if you know where to look for them.
How do you know when to stop painting?
That’s a really hard question, it comes down to experience on one side and how far you are willing to go on the other side. Some might feel that my first stage was looking finished enough for them. If you like to add more and more layers and details then that is also up to you!
I feel that I’m finished with a painting (or rather any project that I create) when there is nothing about it that bugs me or irritates me. If you know how to recognize that feeling (from experience) then that is very helpful.
If you feel this project is to advanced for you but you would like to work with Lindy’s products in a watercolor style than THIS post is for you, in that blog post I go over all the basics and create a card project using stamps in a watercolor style!
And that’s it for today’s painting project! I wish you a creative day!
Lindy’s Stamp Gang products used on today’s project:
- Magicals: Golden Sleigh Bells and Midnight Rendezvous;
- Sprays: Greased Lightnin’ Green, Edelweiss Moss Green, French Lilac Violet, Urban Amethyst, Open Arms Amethyst, Tweedle Dee Denim and Buccaneer Bay Blue.