Making of The Water Lily

Interested in the process I followed to create The Water Lily painting? This post explains many of the steps that I planned and painted to produce the final painting. It includes my reasoning for color choices, composition and more.

You can see the The Water Lily painting in my portfolio.

I have learned all about…

Interested in the process I followed to create The Water Lily painting? This post explains many of the steps that I planned and painted to produce the final painting. It includes my reasoning for color choices, composition and more.

You can see the The Water Lily painting in my portfolio.

The Notan Sketches

I have learned all about the absolute importance of notan sketches thanks to the Virtual Art Academy, taught by Barry John Raybould. Every painting I start now will always include a mass notan sketch to decide values, and often a contour notan sketch to get the details a bit more planned.

Mass Notan of The Water Lily
Mass Notan of The Water Lily

As you can see, my notan sketch is different to the final painting. This is because I changed the composition and experimented with a number of different layouts to find what was pleasing to me.

Step 1

I started The Water Lily painting by focusing on the flower. This allowed me to rest my hands and arms comfortably on the canvas to paint steadily.

Most of the flower was rather light in value, so I kept the pinks and purples quite light with subtle variations.

Painting The Water Lily, Step One, By Kat Skinner
Painting The Water Lily, Step One, By Kat Skinner

I tried to also keep the color hues at their highest chroma by not mixing the complimentary colors into them. If you notice I do have some yellow sitting directly on top of purples. Yellow is a direct compliment to purple; when mixed they will create a dull neutral or muddy hue. I used a soft Sable brush to very gently layer the yellow in a thin layer on top of the purple without mixing. This thin layer is semi-transparent and allows you to see through the yellow to the people at the same time; your eye can see both hues at the same time.

Step 2

Painting The Water Lily, Step Two, By Kat Skinner
Painting The Water Lily, Step Two, By Kat Skinner

I decided to work back to front after I painted so that I didn’t disturb the paint accidentally as I worked. Some my focus was the flower I decided to keep the background blurred and to have more neutral colors. The greens, purples and blues all included my “neutral mix”. This mix was made by scraping all the colors I had finished using into one big pile and mixing. Sometimes it would lean towards a certain hue depending upon the colors I had used at the time. For example after painting the flower it was a pinkish-grey.

Step 3

Painting The Water Lily, Step Three, By Kat Skinner
Painting The Water Lily, Step Three, By Kat Skinner

My notan sketches had the water beside the flower to be quite dark. To keep the reflections of the flower in the scene I used similar colors in the flower, only greying them with my natural mix. This neutral mix is a bit more obvious closer to the dark blue.

Step 4

Painting The Water Lily, Step Four, By Kat Skinner
Painting The Water Lily, Step Four, By Kat Skinner

As I progressed towards the bottom of the canvas I started painting the first lily pad. Initially I followed the colors on my reference photo using a lot of red, orange and warm greens. I was happy with it, until I stepped back and looked at it from a distance. I realised that the warm hues fought with the flower as a center of focus; the colors drew the eye.

Step 5

Painting The Water Lily, Step Five, By Kat Skinner
Painting The Water Lily, Step Five, By Kat Skinner

As you can see here I went back and repainted the back lily leaf to have a cooler hue overall. I did include some purples to warm up that lily pad for a couple of reasons: I want that middle area of the canvas to be the focal point and I want to make sure that the purples are seen throughout the entire painting to create harmony.

You can see the The Water Lily painting in my portfolio.

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