Water lilies in watercolor

My goal for this painting was to keep the subject simple so I could complete it quickly. But looks can be deceiving, and these water lilies proved to be quite time consuming and challenging. It took me several attempts to render realistic dew drops but I finally began to nail them on the leaf on the bottom right-hand corner. Once I figured out the technique, painting dew drops was surprisingly quick and easy.

The swampy water, on the other hand, was even more challenging. It’s definitely not what I envisioned; and I obviously need more practice painting water. If anyone has any tips or tricks for painting water that they’d like to share, I’m all ears!

This painting was based on a tutorial in Linda Ravenscroft’s book, “How to Draw and Paint Fairyland: A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating the World of Fairies.”

34 Comments on Water Lilies in Watercolor

  1. I agree – so pretty! I always love a well-done water droplet or two! (I don’t think I have ever done one. Hmm!) The plants are really lovely and it does indeed look like it all took some time, nothing quick looking about it! But I can’t tell that you had any trouble with the water droplets!

  2. I can tell from your photos of decoration you like color, and lots of it.
    I Like your panting, and am responding to your asking about painting water.
    The white lines around the drops and around the stems in the pool are all the same line weight, or density. Pick either a right or left viewpoint and make the water lines taper or disappear on one side or the other as they go around, but keep it the same-all left or all right. This would change if you use strong light and shadow. if they are the same width all around it looks graphic, which is ok if that is what you want to express, but water reflects in tapered lines and shadows to look real. The highlight spots on the water drops are all on the right in this picture, so the rings around the stems should be on the right with shadow tapers on the left. It is not the painting of the droplets but the consistent highlights on the picture that make water more real.
    You handled your watercolor very nicely, and painted your image very well too. Perhaps if the bottom of the water drops followed the leaf shape a little more closely and bent the highlights to match it would also add to the “real” look.
    Nice to hear you are getting into watercolor, it is fun and I hope you enjoy it.
    Nice meeting you and hope my small suggestions are well taken as they are well meant!

    • Thank you for your feedback. It is much appreciated. I was going for a semi-realistic look and was dissatisfied with the water ripples because they didn’t match the style of the rest of my painting. Now I know why. I’m still a bit intimidated when it comes to painting water–I always have been–but I’ll definitely give it another try using the suggestions you provided. I am enjoying learning how to use watercolor, though it’s a bit more challenging than I had imagined. Having worked on computers as a graphic artist for the last 25 years has left me out of practice when it comes to fine art and there are no do-overs or “undo” buttons with watercolor. Nice to meet you, too!

      • Well your picture was nicely rendered, and I saw that it was a semi-realistic almost wall-paper design. It is a very good design and very carefully executed, so working on the water drops and water ringlets is a really good thing to work on to make it zing! I think you did well, I was just responding to your asking for an opinion. Thanks for the response

        • Thank you again. Please feel free to offer me feedback or advice to improve my paintings any time! The painting was very carefully executed. I left the water for last because it was the hardest part for me and my frustration shows in the final result.

          • learning painting takes time, but you mentioned your experience with the computer, perhaps my next suggestion would be surprising. Scan the art work or photograph it into your computer, and work with manipulating the image, once the mind sees the outcome, the hand will produce those results in your next painting. I use the computer as much as I use the paint brush. Rendering has become so much easier and better since I learned the digital world. I now render in both, and both are better for it.
            Thank you for responding.

  3. Wow, this is so beautiful Jill! I love your style, and believe what makes a painting unique doesn’t have to do with realism or any other specific style. There’s great harmony, elegance and delicacy in your work which makes it unique and adorable, a very realistic painting can’t take you to such a beautiful fairy tale world where your paintings take.

  4. It must be true, we are our own worst critic. I think that watercolour is fabulous. Have you been painting long. Really you should be framing and selling that, will you?

    • Thank you, Kelly. I’ve been painting in watercolor for a little over a year, so I’m still in the learning phase. For any of the paintings that I’ve listed as “based on a tutorial by…” the copyright agreement says that I can show the paintings I’ve created as a result of the tutorials but I cannot sell them–and this painting is one of them. Any painting on my website that doesn’t contain the above caveat is available for purchase and once I have a good selection of those, I plan to open an Etsy shop and offer them for sale. The painting I’ll be posting later tonight is an original. Thanks for your comments and encouragement!

  5. Thank you. I’m happy with the droplets, but the water ripples need some work. I received lots of great feedback on how to render them more realistically. Definitely need to try those ripples again.

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