Painting exercise – An Iris, symbolising love a wisdo

Even though we are still in February, I am feeling the onset of Spring.     Everywhere I look, I see the signs.    So many bulbs shooting up through the soil and that tell tale sign of the sap beginning to rise.     Such an exciting time of the year.    These feelings are begging me to use vibrant colour…..and so I am using an Iris as my jumping off point for a watercolour/gouache painting exercise.

rapid watercolour with a little gouache here and there…….20-11-15-1-731I have learned that the Iris symbolises love and wisdom  – two elements that we can never have enough of…..

This is a playful exercise….a good way to warm up.

Using a big brush, I apply bold colourful marks to the paper….You can do this exercise on newspaper, inexpensive wallpaper lining, anything at hand.   The key is to go for it and enjoy. 


I begin to establish the form of the Iris….important to note that all the whites you see thus far are dry white paper.     I am emphasising keeping dry white paper areas in this exercise, rather than wetting the whole sheet.    This will give more control and ultimately those dry white areas bring sparkle to a watercolour painting.

20-11-15-1-726I add paint to the background and pull out certain areas with a clean wet brush….all the white areas showing are dry white paper.

To avoid muddiness – a clean wet brush can do wonders in moving paint around.     20-11-15-1-727I then decide to give the image more drama and add a dark wash into the negative space surrounding the Iris.      I don’t use black…this dark is made up from  a Burnt sienna/ Prussian Blue mix plus some of the purple I have used in the Iris. 20-11-15-1-729While the surface is wet, I scrape out some areas with a knife.   I have also added a little Permanent White Gouache into the final frame….note how the gouache bleeds from the Irish into the surrounding paint.

Very important to move colour around the picture and to allow the paint to do its own thing….this is where watercolour mediums are quite magical20-11-15-1-731I have several short videos on YouTube which can be helpful.   They can be found by entering my name into the YouTube search engine.

Along with Podcasts I plan to do some longer videos during the coming year.

Remember love and wisdom are the words for today….two elements the Magical Hummingbirds understand well.


A Bientôt.

43 thoughts on “Painting exercise – An Iris, symbolising love a wisdo

  1. Margaret Parker Brown

    I am a lover of color and this post sent me to the ultimate color lovers’ paradise! How you manage to show off watercolor and color (and of course gouache) is beyond me. You have such a feeling for it. I always want to prod you for all the color mixes! Gorgeous!

      1. Margaret Parker Brown

        All your mixes are gorgeous but I am wondering which following colors you used for yellow, gold?, your blues and that hot pink or magenta color? Also do you work with your painting elevated and allow the washes to run? I am finding that I enjoy this but wonder if a certain level works better than another. thank you for indulging me 🙂

      2. janetweightreed10 Post author

        In this particular exercise I used W & N Cadmium Yellow Pale watercolour, plus W & N Cadmium Yellow Deep gouache which is a particularly lovely pigment. The hot pink is a small touch of W & N designer gouache Opera Rose…I love it. I work with these gouaches as if they are watercolours….I work flat – given the wetness of the surface – but when plein air painting, I usually have whatever surface I working on slightly propped unless I can find a convenient wall. 🙂 Hope this helps, and please always feel free to ask anything. Janet.

      3. Margaret Parker Brown

        Thank you! Of course, working flat with this style of painting is a must, I never thought of that. lol In regards to paper do you use 300# because of the amount of pigment and water? Looks like such a fun exercise, I think that I will try this out hopefully next week. Thank you for commenting and satisfying my inquiring mind!

      4. janetweightreed10 Post author

        Because I use a lot of water and pigment…the 300 NOT works very well however, having said that I do like to play with different weights from time to time. You have reminded me to re-look at the Bockingford 140s.

  2. ourfrenchoasis

    Truly fabulous as always, you know I am such a fan of your style of painting. Spring is definitely in the air here, 20C today, it felt fantastic to be really warm and to fling the windows and doors open wide. Daffodils are blooming and the first blossom has appeared on trees. Such a positive time of year.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      20C – Wow….that really is spring weather. We are looking at a good weekend, continuing mild and next week much warmer and so maybe we will beg getting some of your higher temps. Thank you so much for the lovely comment. Wishing you and the family a wonderful weekend….I will think of you frolicking in the gardens. Janet. xx

  3. ColourLover

    Wow Beautiful Love the spring Like Colours. So Vibrate. Its Getting to late Summer here in NZ. Hasn’t been a Proper Summer this Year so I guess Autumn be on its way soon.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      You are most welcome…I look forward to following your blog. It’s grey and overcast here in London…but mild..and so we are operating from the same page. Enjoy the day…Janet. 🙂

  4. Jet Eliot

    Oh how I thoroughly enjoyed this expression of the bearded iris, Janet. I loved seeing it evolve in stages. And then when I learned about your You Tube videos, I went right on into numerous video lessons — I was in your studio! Your quickness and mastery were a thrill, great to hear your voice and see how fast your hands work with the paints and water and brushes. I was happy to finally see how gouache works. And the bleeding of the colors from the water was fascinating. The knife work was captivating. Although I googled “aviento” on the translate website, I was not able to get a clear understanding of your message…I thought it was a sort of goodbye salute, but the translation was “fan.” lol. A completely delightful experience, once again. Thank you Janet.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning Jet…so pleased you enjoyed the videos I have on youtube…it is my plan to do several longer more organised ones this year possibly when I am actually tutoring a workshop. The word I say at the end of each clip is ‘a bientot’ – see you soon in French. 🙂 Sorry that it wasn’t clear enough on the videos. I usually end my blog with this salutation….:) I am beginning to get into my stride again and am loving my newly organised space…:) Have a superb day…janet.


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