Watercolour demo – using the Cala Lily

“Human subtlety sill never devise an invention more beautiful, more simple or more direct than does nature because in her inventions nothing is lacking, and nothing is superfluous.”     Leonardo da Vinci. 

20-11-15 - 1 (478)Watercolour is a beautiful medium.        There are a few basic techniques to learn – each one taking time and patience to master.      Allowing oneself to play with the medium will help build confidence and ability.

In this instance I have sketched out two cala lilies – using yellow ochre.    I am working on a Saunders and Waterford Hot Pressed – heavy paper.  (more about papers at end of blog)

20-11-15 - 1 (607)Having sketched the basic image I add ‘juicy paint’ into the negative space.    I am using a mix of Daniel Smith Perylene Maroon with Winsor & Newton Winsor Violet and a little Winsor & Newton Cadmium Orange. 

When we add paint to the negative space – we automatically reveal the subject…..So often we struggle with a particular element of a painting, when all we need to do is observe the negative space. 20-11-15 - 1 (787)Using very small amounts of pigment I begin to add colour to the flower.    For this I use Winsor & Newton Green Gold and a touch of Windsor & Newton Cadmium yellow. For the dark green in stem and shadow I mix some Winsor & Newton Burnt Sienna with a tiny amount of prussian blue and Gold Green. 

All whites are dry white paper. 

20-11-15 - 1 (799)I begin to build depth inside the lily using small amounts of pigment – making sure to leave dry white paper for highlights. 20-11-15 - 1 (805)As I build up the colour I am mindful of bringing the background colours into the Lilies.    Everything is connected….nothing is isolated.     By moving colour around a painting we bring a sense of harmony and rhythm.

It is important to note, that when we change one fraction of a painting – (no matter what the size) we change the whole.     This is true for everything in life. 20-11-15 - 1 (806)The finished watercolour is an observational exercise revealing the subtlety of nature….. and at the same time honing watercolour technique.       I hope that there is an element of energy and movement.  20-11-15 - 1 (478)The most important thing is to PLAY  and warm up.    This can be done on any paper including newspaper…..The key is to release any fears or anxiety about messing up a good piece of paper.  Ultimately this is a freeing up mechanism.

When purchasing watercolour paper – it is measured by weight and surface quality….Cold Pressed for rougher surface.  NOT (meaning not hot pressed) is smoother and Hot Pressed is very smooth.    My analogy is that using cold pressed is like roller skating and hot pressed like ice skating – NOT is somewhere in the middle.

When we purchase a piece of lb140 weight paper – this simply means that the ream of paper (500 sheets) weighs lb140 – and of course the same applies for all weights.    It’s a good idea to purchase a sample pack of papers….and again PLAY. 

I hope everyone enjoys a creative weekend….no matter what your medium….and that the magical hummingbirds are with you.

watercolour/gouache11194395_10153252694930396_8127371946973631924_oNew hummingbird products including some pretty nifty wrist watches in my Zazzle shop.


A Bientôt


35 thoughts on “Watercolour demo – using the Cala Lily

  1. Jodi

    love how you shared your process and the colors! Thank you Janet! and the results are stunning. The background of the calla lilys is so rich and dramatic!

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning Bushka…Yes I have used the Cala Lily for other watercolour demos….it’s the perfect subject with it’s simple form and yet at the same time subtleties. Hope you have a wonderful and creative weekend….janet 🙂 xx

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning Margaret….ah yes, Play is key in life and certainly when it comes to the creative process as you well know. Hope you enjoy a lovely and creative weekend. Janet 🙂

  2. davidjrogersftw

    Hello, Janet. I thought of you recently. You’re quite the traveler, going to those exotic foreign places–of course not so foreign to you. You might have visited places in the U.S. when you lived here that Diana and I have visited recently. We have been to Colorado this year, and to the northwestern U.S. and Michigan and New York. We’re hoping to visit my brother John in Williamsburg, Virginia–down the road from Lexington, the site of the last battle of our Revolution. We’re also hoping to see my nephew and his wife in D.C. You’re producing so many posts, it’s hard for me to keep up with you, but your ideas and your artwork are flowing out in great and beautiful abundance.

    I hope you have a great weekend.


    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning David….pleased to hear that you and Diana are travelling and enjoying the fact that Diana is now retired. There is so much to see in the United States. I have been to Colorado and really enjoyed going up into the Rockies. I am also familiar with Michigan and many moons ago my Sister-in-Law and her family lived in Birmingham and had a lovely place on Lake Michigan. We spent some happy summers there. I lived in New York from 1967 til 1971 and then West Chester Pennsylvania, where I raised my children. If you go to Williamsburg you might want to visit Valley Forge National Park and Chadds Ford Pa – both are steeped in American history. As I say there is so much to see. I am planning a trip to the East Coast in May where I will begin in Boston/New England with my daughter and make my way down to Atlanta with points in between. I am most fortunate because I will be staying with friends and family all the way…

      I hope you are enjoying a lovely and relaxing autumn weekend….it’s beautiful here at the moment. My favourite kind of weather. Janet 🙂

  3. davidjrogersftw

    I’ know you were precocious and a skilled artist as a child, so I think you might enjoy this story: I’ve told you about my five year old precocious artist five year old grandson Meir. He considers himself an artist. His father, my son Eli,, went to a gallery to buy paintings. He saw some he liked but texted Meir to see if he was satisfied too. Now I think that was great and told Eli I thought it was, respecting the taste and artistic judgment of his young budding-artist child.. The paintings now hang in their house.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      What a lovely story. I really like to hear this – it will only spur Meir on in his creative endeavours. Every child need to be supported and encouraged….and in this action your son was doing both things. Thank you very much – Enjoy your day and here’s to a joyful creative flow. Janet 🙂

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      You are most welcome, Emma. I find it something very few people are clear about. Once known, it helps enormously when purchasing different papers. Enjoy the weekend. Janet 🙂

  4. ShimonZ

    I don’t have to tell you; I’ve told you before many times, how much I love your water colors. But the Cala Lily is really special, and you paint it so well.


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