I’ve always wanted to do art. I love botanical paintings, especially. Back when I was a college student, I took some art classes, and thought of minoring in art, but the classes required so many hours per unit, so I minored in physical science instead. I tried many times to draw roses, but could never get them right. This winter, I saw there was a “Realistic Watercolor Painting” class at Jade St. Community Center, which isn’t far from me, so I decided to sign up. It’s taught by Hanya Fojaco, who is very talented (see http://hanyafojaco.com/). Some instructors demonstrate methods and have students copy. Hanya walks around the room and sees what each person is doing and makes suggestions and comments. Class is pretty low-key. You can keep signing up for classes on a continuing basis, so you can keep getting her advice. Newcomers sit at the front tables, returning artists at all the others. So besides learning to paint, we also get to make new friends and watch each others paintings come to life.
Watercolor painting is a slow process. She has us make a print or a photo of the size we want to paint. Of course, I chose a rose. Actually I printed half a dozen photos of different roses, and asked her which she thought would be good for a first painting. She thought the simplest one- “Durst Plot” (Which may or may not be Sutter’s Gold) would be best, so that’s what I did. The first thing to do is put a piece of graphite paper between the print and the watercolor paper, and trace all the petal edges. Then use the kneaded eraser to soften the darker lines so they won’t be too visible in the final painting. Then, using artist’s tape, tape along the edges of the area to be painted. We also each made a card with samples of each of our paint colors, first at full strength, then diluted, and then as a wash. These are really helpful in planning what to mix and how much to thin the color to get it just right.
Eventually, if one is going to do a painting, one must start putting color on the paper. This is very scary- don’t want to get it too dark, as it’s pretty hard to make paint lighter once it’s on the paper. I started with very light yellow, and it was still darker than I wanted it to be. In a panic, I carefully thinned the color and spread it out, so that the lightest places weren’t already too dark. Here’s how it looked after the first day of painting:
The next week I tried to define the petals a bit more and started adding orange to some of the outer ones.
The third week, I filled in some of the darker color of the interior and shadows.
The fourth week I started putting in the background to get the flower to stand out more.
Next I put in vague leaves with light and dark areas. The plan at this point is for the background to end up out of focus, so it will all be reworked.
At this point I went back to defining more detail in the petals, then smudging details in the background.
I showed it to my daughter and my husband, and both said, “It’s done.” I removed the artist tape and signed it. My daughter went looking through some mats we have and found this one which was exactly the right size and color. It’s now also framed in a dark green frame. I’m thankful for Hanya’s guidance. I tell the new students that she saved me from making many mistakes.