Can't get your red flowers to really pop. Are your colours looking dull instead of bright and glowing.
In this blog on How to paint red poppies, I will show you how I paint really bright red flowers and still keep their delicate feel.
You can paint the background however you like and as dark or bright as you want. This method will still work.
So first off paint your background!!!
Here's how I started mine.
Alcohol drop background
I used the alcohol drop method to start this painting to create some interest in the first layers of this flower painting and give the impression of the poppies in the background of this poppy field. You can see how to do this kind of Alcohol drop background here.
I then went ahead and painted in the background grasses and flowers. You want your background colours to be less saturated and bright than the ones you are planning for the foreground flowers so that they sink into the background.
Now you are ready for the flowers.
Step 1: Once you have worked out where you want your foreground flowers to be, paint them in with white paint.
Paint flowers in white paint to start with.
This is the secret to making your flowers stand out on any background.
Step 2: Now using your lightest colour paint over the white. Be careful to cover all the white this time unless you want white edges around your flowers. This will be your base colour. I have used a lemon yellow here to match the base colour on the background. We are going to paint these flowers from light to dark using glazing techniques with clear painting medium mixed in our paint so that the colours we use underneath will shine through adding depth and glowing colour.
Paint over white with yellow paint for glowing bright red flowers
Step 3: Next choose your next lightest colour. I am using a transparent orange. Pick out the parts on your flower that will be the lightest and go over those with the orange paint mixed with some water or your clear painting medium. You will now have orange and yellow flowers.
Using a transparent orange paint in lightest areas on flowers
Step 3: Now for the red paint, I have used four different red paints here in different layers. The paints start at a bright cadmium red light and get darker and more on the purple side until I am using a Permanent Alizarine. This first photo shows just the cadmium red light
Using your brightest red paint, paint the rest of the flower
The second set of photos are of the layers of different reds. Each layer is mixed with the clear painting medium and I use less paint on the flowers for each colour so that the colours underneath show more around the edges of the next colour. Hope that makes sense. You can see what I do on the video anyway if it doesn't.
All the layer of red paint on the flowers
Now go over the whole of the flowers with you brightest red paint mixed with clear painting medium so the colours underneath show through. This will even out the colours so your flower doesn't look patchy.
Step 4: Refining the petal shapes with your darkest reds mixed with a little green you used in the background grass. I used pthalo green and permanent Alizarine. Be really careful not to add to much of this colour as it will dull your poppy. Paint in the flower petal shadows and where the petals overlap with this colour. You can also use this colour for the middle of the poppies. Add white for the lighter middle parts. Use this same colour for the stems and buds just add a little more of the green and white when you need the lighter colour on the buds and stems.
Darkest reds added to define petals and shadows
Now make sure you stand back and take a good look at your painting. Do you have enough dark's and highlights. Don't forget where your light is coming from when doing these. Are your dark's dark enough? Are your reds bright enough? The beauty of this method of painting flowers is that if you really don't like the way a flower has turned out and you can't seem to fix it you can just paint over it in white paint and start again. The rest of the painting stays the same and you can just change that one flower. On this painting I added another flower in the foreground for a better composition.
Once colours are evened out and dark's added stand back and see what else needs doing.
When I stood back and looked at this painting I felt it needed more highlights so I used some white mixed with clear painting medium to add these in.
Close up of white paint
So that's it now you know how to make beautiful bright flowers on any colour background.
Hope you find this useful and happy painting everyone.
Here's the video if you prefer to watch than read.