Hockey Brush?

Today’s watercolor experiment:

There was a sale on watercolor brushes. I have so many already, but I couldn’t resist these. They are called hake (rhymes with hockey) brushes. I have two of them. One is 3.5 inches wide and the other is 2 inches wide.  I purchased a 1 inch and a half inch brush. Today I tried out the half inch brush.

I may have been a bit tired of line shading, so I brought my new hake brush outside, looked around for a subject and found the perfect one. My trusty Crassula Purpureum (other succulent portraits may be found here: Another SucculentKalanchoe Succulent, Graptosedum Succulent, Succulent Update). I have an unresolved issues with that succulent: its lack of symmetry in the flower and the seemingly haphazard arrangement of flower petals.

I did notice that one leaf seems to be in the foreground with two adjacent leaves poking out at a narrow angle from behind.

A hake brush has bristles that sometimes are unruly; it was a challenge to use it to make the triangular shapes of the orange colored petals. The paper I used was large (11″x14″) and not that absorbent (mixed media paper), so I had a lot of room.  I wouldn’t say that I painted the flower petals as much as I ‘blotted’ them. I tried to leave white space around the petals to come back later and fill in with a darker color.

This reference photograph is a bit oversaturated. It is difficult to identify the area I chose to portray in my composition.

Photograph: Orange Succulent, Closeup

Oversaturated Photo of Succuient

I used a combination of oranges (perinone and cadmium) as well as cadmium reds, for the flower petals. Van Dyke brown colored the dirt of the pot and a combination of Hooker’s green, permanent mauve, cadmium red and titanium white for the leaves. I used neutral tint to darken the dark areas and demark the edges of the petals.  As a final flourish, I used yellow ink, applied by brush to accent the edges of the petals.

Watercolor: Close up of Succulent

Close up of Succulent
11″x14″ 140# Mixed Media Paper


I like this composition. The smooth texture and nonabsorbent nature of the mixed media paper contributed to the abstract look of this painting. It has a circular symmetry and an appropriate range of tonal values from dark to light. The veined leaves and obvious flower shapes pull the composition back from total abstraction. It would be interesting to see if I can simplify the design a little more for a more abstract study.

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