painting an iris in watercolour - step by step

Watercolour Dutch Iris

Spring has sprung in New Zealand and these beautiful Dutch Irises are putting on a wonderful show in my garden at the moment. Of course I needed to get my paints out before they fade as the weather gets warmer.

Ink Drawing..
After drawing the iris, the leaves and the bud in pencil I finished the drawing in waterproof ink.  When the ink was dry I erased the pencil lines and then splashed some gold acrylic ink across the page, being careful to mask the flower with a piece of paper so that I didn't get any gold ink on it.
See my Tips & Techniques page (above) if want to know about the pens and inks I use.

Pen and ink drawing of Dutch Iris

First Wash...
I paint each petal wet in wet. First I wet a single petal with clean water, then I drop in the colours carefully reserving the white areas to create highlights. I look carefully at each petal to notice where the the highlights and shadows are. I don't want any hard edges at this stage, so as the paint dries I soften with a clean, damp brush as necessary. I also use this damp brush to lift paint to create more highlights. Once one petal is complete, I move onto another petal that's not touching any damp petals, so that colours don't bleed from one petal to another.
The colours I used are MaimeriBlu Permanent Violet, Winsor & Newton Intense Blue and Daniel Smith Quinacridone Rose. The brush is an Escoda Perla No. 10.

First wash

Finishing the flower & bud
Once the first wash is completely dry I follow the same procedure for a second, third, or even a forth wash. Wetting each petal with clean water again I strengthen the dark areas and soften any edges. Finally I concentrate on the very dark areas, adding details with a mix of paint with almost no water. I also add just a few veins to the petals with an almost dry brush. I'm still using the same No.10 brush.
The yellows I used are Daniel Smith Hansa Yellow Medium and Winsor & Newton Cadmium Yellow Light.

Dutch Iris flower and bud complete

Finishing the painting...
I'm sure you're getting the pattern here! I paint the leaves in exactly the same way as the petals. Wet in wet, layer after layer. The colours I used are Daniel Smith Sap Green and Hansa Yellow Medium. Still the same brush (isn't it amazing?! Highly recommend this brush.).
Finally I use a Uniball Signo white pen to add just a few little white highlights and I darken a few black lines where the shadows fall.
Sign and we're done.

Watercolour Dutch Iris

This painting is available for sale. Please contact me for details.
Update : SOLD :-)


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