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Sunflowers and Trumpets with Interference Watercolors

A Demonstration using Daniel Smith's Interference Watercolor Paints by Hilary Page

The painting "Sunflowers and Trumpets" illustrates how "interference" paints add a new dimension to realism-flower petals do indeed sparkle. The painting also shows how the addition of interference colors adds depth to regular colors and enhances color quality.

I picked this colorful bunch of Texas flowers growing near some railroad tracks. The painting was completed rapidly in three simple stages before the flowers wilted! Before starting I viewed the flowers and vase through a small visualizing mat and mentally noted how I would crop the arrangement for the painting.

painting detail

• A piece of 11" x 15" 140lb cold pressed watercolor paper
• A 1" flat brush (or a larger flat brush)
• A No. 8 round brush with a fine point, 2B pencil
• A fine spray bottle and the paints listed in the palettes below. I squeezed the colors into the upper portion of separate, tilted, palettes (white plastic container lids will do) and mixed them as required with a little water.

Palette 1:
Sunflower colors: Hansa Yellow Light, Hansa Yellow, Interference Gold. The center of the flower which I did not mix is Daniel Smith's Moonglow.

Palette 2:
Orange Trumpet Flower: Organic Vermilion, Hansa Yellow, Interference Red and Gold.

Palette 3:
Greens: Hansa Yellow Light, Ultramarine Blue, Interference Green. Substitute Hansa Yellow with a touch of Organic Vermilion for a duller green.

Palette 4:
Blue background color: Ultramarine blue and Interference Gold for the wet on wet wash. I used Ultramarine Blue and Interference Blue for subsequent applications.

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Step 1
I made no pencil drawing. After pre-wetting the front and back surfaces of my watercolor paper which I then laid on a slick surfaced board, I applied the paint in a wet on wet wash using the colors and interference paints described for each palette. I made sure I had enough paint ready because the paper can dry out if you have to take the time to squeeze out and remix paints! Besides imparting a sheen, the presence of the interference paint makes the regular watercolor behave in a more controlled manner in wet on wet applications. To avoid back run water marks round the edges, I placed an absorbent flat cotton rag on the board and then put the wet painting on top. When the painting was dry, I penciled in the lines for guidance.

see larger image

Step 2
Using the same colors only darker as in stage 1-I "negative painted" the flowers, leaves and vase by painting around them. I added darker shades of orange and yellow to the flowers to add form.


see larger image

Step 3
I continued negative painting and adding details. The pollen in the center of the sunflowers is a combination of Interference Gold and Hansa Yellow Light used opaquely. The beautiful blue color is Ultramarine Blue and Interference Blue also used opaquely. The blue and yellow enhance one another and are particularly pleasing together because the colors visually complement one another. They are "Visual Complements" (See article on Visual Complements at www.hilarypage.com).

About the Author
Hilary Page is the author of "Hilary Page's Guide to Watercolor Paint." She has written numerous magazine articles including for American Artists' Watercolor issues, and produced six art instruction videos. Hilary is an experienced workshop instructor teaching in the USA, Europe, the Bahamas, Mexico and China in September 2003. Originally from England, she now lives in Houston, Texas.