How to Paint Dynamic Daylilies in Watercolor

Опубликовал Admin
24-07-2018, 01:00
Flowers growing outdoors come in all shapes, colors and sizes. Some are dignified and upright, some stay close to the ground, and others grow tall and spread themselves far and wide. The daylily grows in all directions, haphazard and willy-nilly and gets lots of blooms all summer. Each flower lasts for only a day, however. The plant has been called tough, agreeable and easy-going, but this project challenges you to capture its dynamic, rather whimsical side.


  1. Take a good look at the daylily. Find a good sized example of the plant growing outside and study how it grows. Another way to familiarize yourself is to look at pictures. Study the shape and color of the flowers from the thousands available on the internet.
    • If you decide to paint from a photograph, be sure it is copyright free or get permission before using it as a reference. Take your own photographs if possible.
  2. Write down words that describe the daylily. In a sketchbook or on scrap paper, try to find words that fit not just the physical description of its blossoms, buds and leaves, but also its haphazard, spiky manner of growing.
    • Prepare yourself to tackle the project, using your supplies in such a way as to show the movement of the plant, much the way Jackson Pollock did in his drip paintings.
  3. Study two design techniques that you can use to exploit the character of the daylily.
    • The first is choosing diagonal lines to show the dynamic way the plant presents itself.
    • The second involves picking warm colors to show the flower’s vibrancy. The flower comes in yellow, gold, orange, red, pink and maroon, so colors from the warm side of the color wheel will be the perfect choice to highlight it. The greens on your palette show up in nature as the leaves and the cooler colors such as blue and violet will make a good foil to show off the warmer colors.


  1. Set up a place to work. Cover, liberally, the table surface to protect against spatters, etc. Assemble your supplies. They include a piece of watercolor paper from a pad, a pencil, eraser, and a support board. You can also fold back the paper keeping it attached to the pad and allow the cardboard backing of the pad to support your work.
  2. Reserve the white of the paper for the flower cutting out various sized silhouettes of the daylily flower from contact paper. Make as many as you wish, but at least fifteen or more in various poses, the largest 4-5 inches wide working down to smaller ones.
    • Peel off the back and stick down the blossom shapes at random all over your paper. This will protect and preserve the white paper in places where you want to later paint lighter colored, clean blossoms.
    • Put in a lot of peanut shaped or elongated oval buds. Mask them as you did the flowers or tear or cut masking tape to use for them.
  3. Gather watercolors, either an array of dry colors in a pan or tube colors that you squeeze out onto a palette. Get a variety of all-purpose brushes or those specifically for watercolor.
    • Bring out some colored drawing media for the many lines of the plant. Include ordinary colored pencils, assorted wax crayons, pastels, and water soluble pencils and crayons.
  4. Stand up your reference pictures and begin work on your paper. A logical place to start is to draw the criss-crossing lines of the plant.
    • Use as many of the drawing supplies as you wish in any color or combination.

Finishing Up

  1. Unmask the flowers by peeling off the contact paper shapes. Go to work, treating each flower independently and doing whatever you wish to make it become the bright, warm blossom you envision in your mind. While each plant normally has only one color of flower on it, this is art---your art. So if you feel like mixing up the colors, do it!
  2. Redraw the details on the flowers. Put in the center vein and curve it to suggest movement.
  3. Blend shadows done in watercolor crayon with plain water.
    • Let the whole thing dry again. Stand it up and study it from a distance. Return to your workspace and add more of whatever the piece needs.
    • Go back and punch up lines and shapes that might need it, mixing and matching from the array of supplies you have set out.
  4. Take pleasure in knowing that, unlike the one day blooming daylilies in the garden, these flowers will survive forever. This art piece might be a good one to hang when the day is dreary or snow falls outside. It will serve as a reminder that art is lasting and will always brighten your day and mood. Seeing it and the energy they seem to possess, might get you moving on a slow day, too. A painting you have done will give you that same tingle of satisfaction years later as you got creating it.
    • Daylilies will take on a special meaning to you and you might find yourself planting a few bulbs. They are perennials and will return each year.


  • If photographing or even just looking at plants and flowers on private property, get permission from the owner. As for public spaces, just be careful not to damage the plant or surrounding areas in your enthusiasm to get a good photo. Never pick the flowers unless you own the plant.
  • A trick for unpeeling the back from contact paper flowers is to find a point or corner and rub and twist it hard between two fingers to get it to release a tiny section of the paper’s backing. As you place the flowers on your paper, turn them all directions and mix up sizes and angles as they would be in life. Don’t forget lots of buds.
  • An alternative to contact paper (available at dollar stores by the roll) is to use masking fluid from the art store. This liquid in a bottle is painted on your paper with an old brush and removed later by rubbing it off with a finger.
  • Remember that cleaning up is the final stage in any art project. Throw away soiled newspapers, wipe down plastic tablecloths and any area that needs it. Put away your supplies neatly, returning all color sticks to their appropriate boxes or containers and putting them in a cupboard or drawer you’ve set aside for art materials. Return borrowed supplies like scissors to the kitchen drawer if necessary.
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