Fantasy on Impossible Petals and Pointy Leaves

The previous few watercolors (Yellow Succulent Flowers, Again, Into the Breech, Yellow Flower – Final) of the dreaded yellow-flowered succulent had an element that was very difficult for me to draw, and ultimately paint. That element was one particular petal that arose from the center of the flower, curled up and furled into another ‘S’ curve that also had its origin in the center.  Today, I worked from an image in my mind. Hmmm…. not a good way to describe my process. A better way would be to say, I laid down an initial idea (that of a tapered petal with curled sides), observed my work and tried to think of how to extend this image to capture the essence of my thought.

Shading studies:

But before I present this, here are my shading studies. First the model:

Photograph: Aluminum Water Bottle

Water Bottle – Photo

Next the pen and ink rendering:

Pen and Ink - Aluminum Water Bottle

Pen and Ink – Aluminum Water Bottle
6″x4″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block

Finally the pencil study:

Pencil - Aluminum Water Bottle

Pencil – Aluminum Water Bottle
6″:x4″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block

This surface was exceedingly difficult to shade. The paint of the bottle was uniformly dark except for the subtle darks and lights of the reflection. The aluminum surface, where the paint chipped away, was lighter, but it also reflected darks and lights.  For the pencil drawing, I should have shaded the painted parts uniformly dark and used an eraser to carve the lighter tones into the sketch.  This technique would not work for the pen and ink, as once a stroke is laid down, there is no way to lighten it.

Today’s watercolor experiment:

As I mentioned above, I began this composition with a comma-like shape beginning near the top center of the paper and ending a bit below the center line. This shape survives in the final image as the purple center of a partial yellow tube. A second ‘comma’ shape was next. This was the horizontal blue shape. In the final image the blue shape represents the hollow of the orange petal behind it. The orange-lined blue tube represents another developing petal.

To complete the study and to anchor it to the previous succulent images, I painted the disc-like petals with their distinctive points.

Watercolor: Fantasy on Impossible Petals and Pointy Leaves

Fantasy on Impossible Petals and Pointy Leaves
9″x12″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block


This abstract composition illustrates the difficulties I had in observing and painting a representation of a central, double-curved petal. I am happy with the overall balance of color and design of this watercolor sketch, although it also fails to capture the double curvature.

Next step: capture the actual shape; expand petal search for similar, more paint-o-genic examples of these curves.

2 thoughts on “Fantasy on Impossible Petals and Pointy Leaves

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