For all their delicate charm, pansies are a hardy flower. They lend themselves to watercolor because their petals look almost as though they have been colored by an artist. Their rich, velvety red, violet, purple and yellow blossoms have a backdrop of spiked green leaves. If you haven’t tried painting pansies, do it. They aren’t hard and the results rival the real thing.
- Assemble basic watercolor supplies. Either tube or good quality pan colors work fine if you remember to activate them with some clear water before using. Gather as many purples and violet tubes as you can find. This is one color, that while it is possible to mix from the primaries, getting all the shades and nuances of color requires pre-mixed tubes of paint.
- In addition to paints, you will need an assortment of watercolor or all purpose artist’s brushes in various sizes. Find an ordinary pencil, an eraser, an 11″ X 14″ piece of watercolor paper, a support board, a water bucket and tissues.
- Purchase a live pansy plant, if possible. The internet has pictures galore. Google free stock pictures to see the wide variety of colors of the pansy.
- Look at coloring pages of pansies also. They will give you ideas for containers for the plant and how to compose your page.
- Sketch some pansies in pencil. If you have the real thing, look closely at it and try to replicate the features of the plant, the clusters of blossoms, the greenery, stems, buds and even a blossom past its prime and wilting. These preliminary information gathering sketches will help you understand the flower better and give you confidence for starting a painting of it.
- Locate the center most point of the flower. Surprisingly, it might be a little off exact center.
- Count the number of petals and how they are positioned. There are five, two sets of smaller ones and a larger one underneath. Look closely to see this in actuality, but don’t worry about it too much. Just do five petals, overlapping them slightly.
- Draw the stems lightly, even if they eventually won’t be visible. Have the stem, even though it is hidden beneath the flower begin at the center point of the flower. Note how slender it is and that is can curve slightly.
- Ask and answer the artist’s age-old questions about your subject and background. What type of container will the pansies be in? Will they be in a garden, planted in the earth? What other flowers might surround them?
- Think about the background and begin to get ideas for how you will paint it.
- Get your watercolor paper and begin your layout. Lightly sketch how you want the overall painting to look.
- Do simple, free form circles for the outermost shape of each blossom.
- Find the center of each blossom. Draw a small circle for the center. Paint it yellow, let it dry and mask it out to preserve the brightness of the yellow. Use a dot of masking fluid or a spot of masking tape you’ve torn to shape.
- Have the petals grow out from the center point. Erase the parts of the circle you made for a guide where it isn’t needed.
- Remember, be a little whimsical, let the pansies dance.
- Note how the outer edges of the petals touch the circle. Give them wavy edges.
- Draw the leaves. Leaves function to join the colorful blossoms so have some of each plant touch the others. Show a part of a stem in a few places. Those spindly stems will help to guide the viewer’s eye through the painting.
- Wet the blossom carefully with clean water and a pointed brush. This is the point where magic occurs.
- Drop a spot of color onto the flower, at the center point. Use thick paint because the paper is wet. Watch as it spreads across the wet petal but try to let the paint do it’s thing as it reacts to the water.
- Take good care of your pansy plants. They are a lasting flower and can even withstand a lot very cool temperatures when planted outdoors. Having a pansy painting, though, allows you to enjoy the sweet face of the pansy all year ’round.