How to Depict the Sun, Moon and Stars in a Dandelion Watercolor

Опубликовал Admin
29-06-2017, 03:00
Dandelions are common and grow like weeds. They are strong-willed and seem almost impervious to the lawn mower. Many believe that the dandelion represents the sun, moon and stars in their stages of life; the yellow flower, the sun, airy white puffballs a full moon, and seeds carried by the wind, stars. How long since you took a really good look at the dandelion? Let this unassuming flower take you on a trip to the moon and back with classic watercolor techniques; masking, crashing colors, drybrush, and resist using alcohol and table salt.

Preparing to Paint

  1. Prepare your paper.  Get a sheet of 9" X 12" or 11" X 14" cold pressed, 140 lb. watercolor paper.  Secure it to a board with masking tape or leave it attached to the pad at the top edge.
  2. Assemble and squeeze tube paints along the edges of a clean palette or white plate.  Put out yellow, blue, red, violet, green, orange and brown.  Place the palette on a piece of old terry toweling to hold your brushes and absorb splashes.
  3. Locate watercolor brushes.  A #10 pointed, a liner, and a 1/2 inch flat.  A soft wash brush, a cheap, bristle brush for dry brushing, or a rake brush and a big water container, tissues or paper towels, a pencil, and eraser.
  4. Shop for special supplies.  Get masking fluid and a cheap, old paint brush for applying it.  Alternatively, get a bottle of rubber cement.  A hard rubber "masking fluid remover" is good, but rubber kitchen pads work well, too.
  5. Purchase a bottle of rubbing alcohol. An eye dropper works well to apply it.
  6. Gather references of dandelions.  Pick actual ones at all stages of life, buds to puffballs.  Or, find pictures of dandelions and print some out.

Sketching and Masking

  1. Begin your painting.  On your paper, sketch freehand circles for the puff balls, ellipses for the dandelions, upright ovals for the buds.  Distribute them over the paper as you wish.  Make some of them, the ones in the foreground, closest to the viewer large, and have them diminish in size as they go back in space.  Draw stems, originating from the middle of the balls and dropping as long as you desire.  Have some stems be wavy, cross each other or bending over slightly for interest.
  2. Save your paper's white.  Mask the circles with masking frisket fluid or rubber cement.  For stems, rubber cement squeezed from a plastic bottle is quick and easy, but you can paint them with a small brush, too.  For the buds, paint the upright standing oval at the top of the stem and give it a little collar of downward pointing lines.  For the skeletal puff balls, have your lines radiating out from the center.  Let this dry thoroughly, a hairdryer can speed this process.
  3. Put on a work shirt or smock.  This work will be gestural and the paint applied quickly so protect your work area and your clothing.
  4. Mix your paint puddles.  Pull a color into the center of your palette and dilute by dropping water into it with a brush.  Mix until it resembles skim milk.  It should be dense enough to exploit the color, but thin enough to allow the white of the paper to show through when dry.  Test each color on a scrap of paper as you mix it.


  1. Try not to think overly hard as you begin to apply colors to your paper.  Stand up and develop a rhythm going from the palette to the paper, and use any color you wish.  Let the areas of color touch and they will begin to blend and mix on their own, surprising you with the new colors they make.  Try to let the paint do it's job and not stir or help it.  Enjoy watching the colors move away from and resist the areas you have prepped with rubberized mask.  You might think of the top part of your paper as sky or atmosphere and the lower part earth or grass.  Abstract application of color is good and fun, too.
  2. Work to apply colors only once to an area.  Keep a fully loaded brush and make bold, fearless passes at your paper.  Your confidence will grow as you work and the strokes will show it.  Try to get deep values behind the puff balls so when unmasked there will be a nice contrast to the white spiky flowers.
  3. Do some special effects.  As the work begins to dry slightly and the sheen goes off the paint, lightly sprinkle some table salt on it.  Try not to over do this.  Pick up the dropper and drop on alcohol and watch what happens as the color disperses.  Allow the whole thing to dry thoroughly. The hairdryer is helpful to speed this up.
  4. Unmask for a magical effect.  Use whatever it takes to get the mask off, including your fingers.
  5. Paint the flowers shades of yellow.  Let your strokes radiate out from the center, and move the paper to get the proper spikiness to the strokes.  For puff balls, keep them white, but add little touches of gray.  Find gray on your palette where colors have mingled as you worked and use that.  It is the sum total of the colors in your painting and will, therefore, be harmonious.  Paint the buds.  Your floating seeds will be on the paper from the salt resist.
  6. Paint stems and leaves.  Stems ought not to be regulated and flat, so to capture their liveliness use varied shades of green.  Leaves resemble spikey shapes that have chewed sides.  Again, vary your greens by adding touches of other colors to them.
  7. Try dry brushing some grasses and weeds.  Pick up the bristle brush and practice on a scrap how to touch just the ends of the bristles into pasty paint.  Work with upward strokes to make grasses and weeds.  Try double loading your brush with two or three colors and brush that onto the piece.  Have a few strands of grass overlap a yellow flower or two.
  8. Use your liner brush to finesse your puff balls, working their centers with dark values to make them pop.
  9. Let the piece dry overnight to really see how beautiful it is.  The paper goes from gray to pure white and sparkles.  Sign your work, mat and frame it.  Display it and enjoy how you have elevated the dandelion from a weed to a work of art.
Users of Guests are not allowed to comment this publication.