Simplifying Complex Subjects

We’ll simplify a complex subject using easy techniques and an easy method. This lesson features the wet-into-wet and dry-in-wet techniques and we’ll do a lot of negative painting. Follow along to learn how to paint a peony flower bud in this easy watercolor painting lesson.

Simplify, Focus And Layer

The key to managing any complex scene is to simplify and focus. This lesson combines several ideas and methods. 

The first idea is to SIMPLIFY.  A scene like this, looking down into a mass of leaves and undergrowth is very complex.  It is easy to get caught up in the complexity. The first thing to remember is that the complex leaf mass is the background.  Painting it in all it’s complexity will draw attention away from the main subject – the peony bud. 

The second is to focus. Since the peony bud is the main subject, the eye should be drawn here. Including much of the detail, harder edges and more contrast on and around the bud is the way to bring focus.

The lesson uses basic watercolor painting techniques – wet-in-wet and dry-in-wet – but with more control and in building up several fluid, transparent layers. 

Focus On the Peony Bud

It’s always our impulse to copy every scene we see including every last detail and color. This often results in a dis-jointed, dis-connected painting. It is better practice to create a focal point , and put most of the viusal importance there. In this painting lesson, we’ll create a focal point with the bud itself and create a soft focus in the background.  

Along with wet-into-wet and dry-into-wet techniques, we’ll use a lot of negative painting to help bring out that all important peony bud.

What you’ll need

  • Brushes – Medium Round, Small Round, 1 1/2″  and 1/4″ flats and and a Rigger
  • A palette with your colors – Cobalt Blue, Ultramarine Blue, Lemon Yellow, Raw Sienna and Permanent Alizarin Crimson.
  • Watercolor paper – preferably Arches 140lb Cold Press cut to about 7″h x 11″ – slightly smaller is OK

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