Painting Orchids . . .

orchid2You may remember my excitement about buying and trying my first Orchids from Trader Joes back in December of 2012 (See this post).

I took good care of them – all five that I ended up buying. I repotted them in Orchid mix fed them, and kept them in the garden room all year.

This Spring, I have been rewarded by three of the five re-blooming.

All this time, I thought they were three different types of orchids even though they all had the same leaf (I can be pretty dense sometimes). The flowers were different colors, so they were different, right?


That is the really great thing about drawing – you really SEE something. So, I finally realized that the structure of the flowers was identical, and these are actually the same type orchid - phalaenopsis orchids – the easiest kind to care for.

Above is the page I painted in my Stillman & Birn Beta journal.

The Orchids posed for me and were stellar models . . . compare this one to the top orchid on the page . . .

orchidmodel0The painting is a little less white than it should be, but that is because I hadn’t figured something out yet. This one is on the right of the middle group . . .

orchidmodel1And it turned out much more true to the actual color, and so did its pal on the left . . .



Because I discovered how the use of white watercolor could help.

This was not a DUH! moment. It was an AHA! moment. Here’s why:

You just don’t use white paint in watercolor. You use the paper color to keep whites. You add small bits of shadow colors to model the white flower or whatever.

But, when you work in a small journal format, it is very difficult to blend your subtle shading with water and keep it from tinting the white paper. It just flows too easily.

HOWEVER . . . if you paint the flower petal first with an opaque white – like Titanium white, the added color around the edges etc. does not flow easily, but rather, blends softly into the still wet white. It’s a wet into wet technique just like the other method, but the Titanium white is thicker and creamier, so it slows everything down and makes blending so easy.

This was a lovely discovery and will really help with my flower painting from now on.

Finally, my third model was a greenish color – which was challenging to match. . .

orchidmodel3I used my newly discovered technique on it as well. The painted version is the bottom one on the page above.

I seem to be attracted to botanical realism lately. I know I won’t give up my goofy art or my surrealism, but there is a lot of pleasure in trying to duplicate shapes and colors as they are.

It’s a beautiful Spring Sunday, and I have promised myself that my garden clean-up will be greatly advanced by the end of it. So, off I go . . .

Have a great Sunday.


12 thoughts on “Painting Orchids . . .

  1. Carole Kosteriva

    Enjoy your day Jessica and thanks for the art lesson. It is snowing here this morning and too cold for yard work but I did see a robin esterday. Can hardly wait for Tubac Time!

  2. Lynn

    Lovely work, beautiful flowers and a great tip even though I suck at flowers! Carole, glad to hear you’re planning for Tubac again!

  3. Vesta

    The orchids are like people, different colors, but really the same. I notice the centers look like people, angels etc. interesting. I know you are having fun in the garden! Thank you.

  4. jessica Post author

    They DO look like people, Vesta! That’s another thing I didn’t see – thanks for that! I got your emails – you are so far away!!

    Hope your trip is everything you wanted it to be!

    Keep the positive Tubac thoughts, Lynn and Carol. Maybe we can make that happen.

  5. Susun

    This was a spring treat. I had to write to say that I, too, have had great luck getting Trader Joe’s orchids to rebloom, an achievement that eluded me with other orchid purchases. Must be good California beginnings that help. In fact, I’m going there right now to try and find that lovely green one. Thanks for a great post!

  6. Shauna

    I noticed the same thing about the middles looking like angels or people! Great lesson, Jessica! Thanks for sharing!

  7. Ann Cumbie

    Thanks so much for the tip. Your orchids are beautiful. . . mine . . . not so much! LOL I, too, am off to work in the yard.

  8. LynnInColorado

    First, would you please describe your garden room? Second, have you seen these orchids online or in real life?

  9. jessica Post author

    OMG – no. I have not seen them. Monkeys!! How wonderful! And that purple and white person.

    I can’t stop staring at these!

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