Geraniums have been popular with European growers since 1701 and have never really gone out of fashion. Doubtless some of their popularity stems from their great variety of vibrant colours: reds, whites and pinks are eye-catching and striking. This variety for this painting is Pelargonium zonale ‘Ricard Orange'.
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Tonal work in pencil is beneficial to accentuate the sometimes complex form of a component such as this geranium leaf
PAINTING THE PELARGONIUM
- Underside of leaves: Sap green and a little titanium white
- Old stem: Sap green and alizarin crimson
- Stems: Sap green, cadmium red and transparent yellow
- Dark parts of leaf: Sap green, Payne’s grey and cadmium red
- Light areas of leaf: Sap green and cadmium red
- Flower: Winsor red and Winsor red and transparent yellow
- Shadows: Neutral tint
With your sketch to hand and your colours prepared, transfer the drawing to hot-pressed watercolour paper.
1 Using a No. 3 brush and clean water, glaze all of the petals individually and leave to dry. Using a dilute mix of Winsor red and a little transparent yellow, paint every alternate petal. Start each at the throat of the flower, grade the colour out towards the highlights on the bends of the petals and strengthen the colour towards the outer margin of the flowers.
2 Once dry, repeat this process on all of the remaining petals. Using the same brush, glaze all of the leaves and stems with clean water and leave the painting to dry.
3 Apply a dilute mix of sap green and cadmium red to the undulating leaf, grading into the highlights and leaving the veins unpainted.
4 Still using the No. 3 brush and a dilute mix of sap green and alizarin crimson, paint the older lower part of the stem, grading from right to left and leaving the leaf nodes unpainted.
5 With a dilute mix of sap green, cadmium red and transparent yellow, paint the small stems of the flower buds and sepals, the young leaves and the main flower stem. Grade from right to left for each stem.
1 Using a No. 3 brush and a dilute mix of sap green, Payne’s grey and a little cadmium red, paint the darker areas of the leaves and blend the paint into the lighter green, keeping the form as before.
2 Using a No. 2 brush and a stronger mix of Winsor red, build up the form on the flower petals and buds.
3 Continue to build up the leaves with the mix in Step 1 until the depth of colour has been reached. On the last two or three washes paint over the leaf veins to achieve a subtle colour.
1 Using a No. 2 brush and a mix of neutral tint, darken the small areas where the leaves overlap the stems, the stems overlap the leaves and the bud stems cross each other, in order to put them in the correct position.
1 Using a No. 3 brush and a dilute mix of Winsor red and transparent yellow, apply a small wash to the leaf closest to the flower head.
2 Still using the No. 3 brush, add a small wash of sap green and transparent yellow to the lower flower petals and buds.
1 Using a No. 0000 brush and a little white gouache, paint in the stigmas and stamens of the open flower.
2 Switching to a No. 1 brush and a mix of sap green with a little white gouache, paint the undersides of the leaves, leaving the veins unpainted.
3 With a mix of sap green and transparent yellow, paint in the small leaves at the nodes, grading the paint to keep the form.
Using a No. 5 brush and a dilute mix of transparent yellow and sap green, I washed over all of the leaves and stems. Using a No. 1 brush and transparent yellow, I then washed over the individual petals on the left of the portrait