1 March 2011

Culzean Castle Bluebells

I thought I would show you a painting at a number of different stages from start to finish.  It is of a bluebell wood at Culzean Castle, which I photographed last spring.  I tend to work in watercolour and gouache very much my own way, breaking rules right, left and centre, but it works for me.

Image 1
Image 1: The painting is gouache on watercolour paper, and as the painting was going to be mainly green (despite the subject being bluebells), I covered the whole of the background in a contrasting purple (my favourite colour, by the way).  I then sketched out the image using a pastel pencil and began to block in shadows, with hints of the green foliage that was yet to come.

Image 2
Image 2: I used a variety of blues, yellows and browns, including Prussian and ultramarine blue, cadmium yellow, burnt sienna and burnt umber to mix my greens, while painting more detail into the background and introducing colour and light to the foreground.

Image 3
Image 3:  I love using blocks of colour, letting the types of brushes I am using dictate the shapes on the paper; I started to illustrate the trees this way and added more depth to both the foreground and background.

Image 4
Image 4:  I worked on the detail here, trying to bring light into the background through the trees as well as on the leaves of the tree on the left.  As I painted in all the foliage on the floor of the wood, I allowed the original purple that covers the paper to show through, especially on the bottom left - this helped me deepen the shadows.

Image 5:  Now the fun bit - adding the bluebells with a mix of cobalt blue, white and purple.  I dulled down over zealous greens and yellows, and added final details to the tree trunks.

I use Chinese calligraphy paint brushes as well as western square tipped and pointed sables.  As I said before, when it comes to watercolour, for me, anything goes.


  1. Tracy, this is great, showing the different steps you take to get to the beautiful paintings. I really like your work.

  2. Thank you for so detailed description of your paintings that look gorgeous - are like the prophets of rapidly forthcoming sun to me. Your art shines peace and real beauty which has no shadows. Therefore I see your Bluebells as the rehabilitation of my http://arthiker.wordpress.com/2011/03/06/modesty-of-the-icicles/ Thank you