Yellow Succulent Flowers

Today’s watercolor experiment:

At the risk of becoming succulent-obsessed, today’s study is yet another succulent. I bought this one at a food market. I thought it was a perfect complement to my orange-flowered one.  These flowers were just as difficult to draw as the orange ones. What I found very difficult was estimating the differences in tonal values along the narrow depth of a flower petal. Before I begin, however, this is the photograph from which I worked today:

Photograph: Group of Yellow Succulent Flowers

Group of Yellow Succulent Flowers

More specifically, I worked on a cropped version of the picture above:

Photograph: Cropped Yellow Succulent Photo

Close up of Succulent Flowers

In order to keep up my practice with pen and ink and at the same time sharpen my powers of observation, I tried to replicate the tonal changes with pen and ink. I used the same technique as in my previous post (Shading Practice).

Pen and Ink: Yellow Succulent Shading Study

Shading Study – Yellow Succulent
9″x6″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block

This pen and ink study is not my best work. Some of the petals are well defined, but others are very confusing.

With time being a constraint today, I stopped pen and inking and began my watercolor.

As an alternative to using my big paper, I enlarged two flowers (as shown above in the cropped version of the reference photo).  I remember that gamboge is a nice orangy-yellow pigment, so I used this as the major color. I also used aureolin and lemon yellows and some yellow ochre. for the shadows I used permanent mauve. Here is my finished study for today:

Watercolor: Yellow Succulent Flowers

Yellow Succulent Flowers
12″x9″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block


I am not happy with this watercolor. I had a lot of trouble shading the inner petals of each flower, resulting in a visually confusing picture. If I can’t make sense of it as the artist, I can’t expect the viewer to do so.

Reasons for difficulty:

The flowers were small and the illumination of the inner petals caused a shading too subtle for me to capture. Sketches rely on a pencil to trace the edge between two forms, or to define a form. Perhaps the drawing was not a good enough estimate of these edges and therefore not a good framework on which to hang the shading. But this somehow doesn’t seem right: shading and form should not be separable. Shading creates the form. However, the artist should know what form to recreate. This must be the problem: the failure of the artist to understand, or observe the subject properly.

With further study I hope to remedy the situation.

4 thoughts on “Yellow Succulent Flowers

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