The image on the left is of artist, Patricia Hopkins' most recent watercolor painting, which is sold. So what is my process for getting inspiration for a painting? Well, it was late September years ago when, as I was passing by a hydrangea bush near my gallery, there was a sudden visual spark of colors that caught my interest. The area was somewhat hidden from direct sunlight, but the hydrangea blooms were in an amazing combination of colors. I rushed to get my camera and took 4 or 5 photos from different angles, all the while feeling awe and joy in having made such a beautiful find.
I often combine parts of my photos into a painting. The way the cool leaves went up to the right corner of light, which my camera caught for me in an abstract way, was a must for inclusion as was the back-lighting of the hydrangea and fern leaves in yellows and oranges.
The actual creation of this painting took several months. The drawing took the longest, but for me it is an important part of the process in determining the success of the finished painting. I use a 2H lead pencil, kneaded eraser, and watercolor paper. I use D'arches 300 lb. cold-pressed paper. I tend to work very wet and a heavy paper doesn't buckle as much.
The second step is my color-mixing with a brush, water and pigment. Usually I use around 7 Winsor & Newton colors in various combinations. I like to do this before I start to paint so that I know I have exactly the colors I want, and I know they work well together. Also this process gives me time to experiment with the many possibilities of mixing different colors. I save the colors I like to a smaller piece of watercolor paper. Under each saved color I write what colors I used to make it. Then I begin to paint.
One color I especially enjoyed working with is the turquoise in the hydrangea petals. I used thalo blue
with a lot of water, as it is a very intense color and the water lightens or softens it. Thalo blue was also mixed with yellow to make a cool green for the leaves going up the right side of the paper and to make a nice balance with the hydrangeas on the left.
Quick Recap for "How to Find Inspiration for a Painting":
1. Whether indoors or outdoors, be visually receptive to the beauty around you. A subject for a painting will resonate with positive feelings inside you.
2. Have your camera ready to capture what is speaking to you visually.
3. Take a good number of photos, because you may want to include some of one, a bit of another, and none of that one in your finished painting.