Poppies – A Start to Finish Painting

I don’t usually have people watch me paint in my studio. So when they see the finished painting they ask “how did you do that?”

So here is a painting as it progresses – “Poppies”

First I draw out the painting on the watercolor paper. I usually use 140-lb cold press. For this painting I masked out the buds and the inside of the poppy to keep from painting over them.

The grey areas are the  “masking fluid”. sort of like watery rubber cement. Paint it on, let it dry and you can paint over it – waterproof. Then rub it off to reveal white paper so you can paint the delicate parts of the painting.

 I start with the main flower first and lay in heavy bright color. 

Next we put in the background. It makes the main flower really pop.  I layered in colors and shapes, then glazed over them to make them richer and darker. Leaves and buds take shape in the background. Since I have preserved some buds and stems with masking fluid I don’t worry about the paint running.

You can see how the sharper items are still clean since they had the masking fluid covering them. It’s a great tool – it will cover large areas or make fine lines as for feathers.



After the masking is removed we fill in the details for the areas we want to be in focus. It is more interesting to keep the background a bit out of focus, with enough detail to suggest leaves and shapes, but not to have to paint every leaf or stem. Your mind will know what the shapes and colors are.



All that is left is to put in small details and see how it looks:

Always look at your painting with a mat around it. Otherwise  you won’t really get a good sense of the painting. Your eye will be distracted by the rough splattered edges and the other items on your work table.

I think this came out pretty nicely. 🙂

Happy Painting,


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