A Beautiful Amaryllis

Its now Winter and the season of frosts, bare trees and a landscape of muted colours after the colourful Autumn colours.

Last year I was given a present of an Amaryllis and it was flowering sometime after Christmas, the weather was awful, Alan had gone fishing, Charlie travelling in Australia and Vicky at a friends, so a perfect day to create mayhem in my kitchen.

Out came the sketchbooks, handmade papers and watercolour paper. Luckily I had some paper already stretched on a board. I do tend to stretch most sheets of paper as it gives an excellent surface to work on and if I am painting it means that when the paper dries it re stretches and will take more layers of paint easily and look more professional once the painting is finished.

The first painting, was completed using professional artists watercolour paints and a variety of brushes and sticks. it is made up of a series of washes and each wash is allowed to dry so that the colours do not become muddy. On some of the final washes, even adding just water with a brush and then using a loaded stick with paint is an effective way of adding detail:

Amaryllis 1
Image 1

The composition of this painting is very disappointing, but I do like certain areas of colour and detail. I am pleased that the colour still looks fresh as in the past I have overworked paintings and they look heavy and dead.

During this day of painting I worked on all the paintings one after the other and then as some dried I went back and worked into them with washes, detail etc.

The second painting was started afterwards:

Amaryllis 2
Image 2

I tend to fill my page or piece of paper and so the scale of the flowers are often larger than the subject matter. I do not like the overall effect of this study, but I do like certain areas, particularly areas of the petals and the effects of intense colour together with delicate areas of pale layered colour. I do not like the lack of depth in the centre of the flower as it looks rather flat and this area of my work needs much more work and practice! However I do like the colour and texture of the flower generally.

Both images 1 and 2 are painted on in a watercolour sketchbook which I buy from Khadi papers 100% long fibred cotton rag, 210 gsm, acid free, Rough or Smooth surface and one deckle edge.  this sketchbook can be used with watercolour and all painting and drawing media.in fact all the paintings, studies and sketches have been completed on Khadi papers or sketchbooks.

The handmade papers vary in thickness, but they all stretch beautifully and can be used with many types of media. i have used Khadi papers for many years, both for furnishing, fashion and stationary designs.

IMAGE 3 was painted in a Khadi Large format paperback sketchbook with 38 pages in 100 gsm paper. Section-stitched binding. Deckle edged:

Image 3
Image 3

Pages are artists’ handmade paper from Khadi Papers India. The paper is 100% long fibred cotton rag,internally sized with neutral pH size, acid free. Medium-Rough surface,

for inks, pastels and all drawing media.

As this is a sketchbook I use the pages and accept the cockling of the paper when using paint. The amaryllis was very beautiful and in this study I tried to include all the flower heads. This study was completed very quickly, the first layers added and then left to dry before working back into it with more paint and washes. This study was not completed and lacks detail, but I like the over all soft quality and the delicate colour in areas of the flower petals.

IMAGE 4 I think the least said the better on this particular study……… I limited myself to just a few minutes, but sadly failed to capture the delicate qualities of the flower. Possibly i should have revisited this study and worked into it with other media to try and add detail. I have included it to demonstrate that not all studies/paintings work, but it is important to carry on and not be disappointed when something doesn’t work as you expect. Quite often the reverse is true and happy accidents happen which help to feed the creative process:

Image 4
Image 4

IMAGES 5 & 6 have been painted very quickly in watercolour in my Khadi A5 notebook and the layers of paint left to dry completely before drawing in detail with a finalise pen, (not an expensive pen, but one of a pack from ASDA). I then added water carefully to make the pen run and the ink line soften and the colour take on grey/black hues. I really like these studies as they were completed after working on the other studies already mentioned. I am pleased with the composition particularly image 5 which fills the space and has a lovely mix of colour and sureness of application:

IMAGE 7 has been painted on a stretched sheet of handmade Khadi paper, unfortunately I am not sure which type it is, possibly a sheet of Himalayan paper. I have used layers of watercolour, (left to dry before reworking):

Image 7
Image 7

I have used a black pen, this time with a waterproof ink, (Zig Millennium, different point sizes, my favourites are 08, 05, 03 and 01).

I like the richness of colour and the black fine lines to indicate the veining. Sadly disappointed yet again with the lack of depth at the centre of the flower.

I enjoy working on multiple paintings and studies in a single day as I feel it helps to give an added focus together with a freedom of working. it doesn’t matter that not all are successful, but I like to put them all out and together and evaluate each image.

What do I like?

What don’t I like?

What can I improve?

What other ideas/techniques can I try?

Nothing is a waste of time and no painting/drawing/study goes in the bin. Sometimes images get cut up and only sections saved and these will be annotated and the technique written down for future reference. 

I have noted below some of the websites that I use and might be of interest:

  • Khadi papers this company provide a fantastic service, great papers and more importantly work with communities abroad and produce sustainable products.
  • Zig Millennium pens I usually buy from Green & Stone on the Kings Road, London. A great shop to visit, but also a great personal service.



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