Burning Twice as Bright

I have been waiting for my Oriental poppies to bloom for two years. I am not disappointed. Their papery thin, flaming orange-red petals are outrageous in the garden. Still, some of the blossoms lasted only days. A few were knocked out by heat. Others by heavy rain. Only two of eight remain. Alas, I’ll content myself with these, plant more perhaps, and paint them again next June.

Tips and Techniques– For the strong warm reds and depth of color poppies demand, I tapped the intense colors of Dr. Ph. Martin’s Hydrus Fine Art Watercolors. I have a small set that I rarely use but were perfect for this. I chose permanent red, Hansa deep yellow, and alizarin crimson along with two yellows that are in my regular watercolor set, Hansa yellow and aureolin. I love aureolin because it is highly transparent and you can layer it easily to add warmth to reds or greens. I suspect cadmium red would also work well for poppies, though I don’t own it because it is more opaque than I like.

20 Comments on “Burning Twice as Bright

  1. Beautiful use of your colors to capture the fleeting beauty of poppies, all the more reason to love them. They are such showy ladies of the garden, feels like they are all dressed up in beautiful hats for all the world to see. Thank you

  2. Absolutely gorgeous! Is your ink line added before color washes or after?

    We have lots of deer come through our property who are attracted blooms. I’m only able to have daffodils and peonies for a early and late spring splash of color.

    I’ve had BRUSHO crystals and used them along with DS or WN. For awhile I stopped using the BRUSHOS but came back recently. I love the transparency and intensity. Sometimes I use them exclusively but most often, in addition to my other traditional brands.

    • I always draw first. It gives me a sense of direction for where to paint. Plus, I just love drawing. It offers such a direct connection to the subject.

      I’ve never heard of BRUSHO crystals. I’ll have to look them up.

  3. I’ve been trying for a couple of years to perfect painting the color of these poppies. You seem to have nailed it, no surprise! I’m making note of this post, and will give painting my poppies one more try. Thanks for your ever inspiring tips and techniques.

    • I’ve enjoyed seeing how a variety of artists are handing poppies this year. Some paint an entire group more abstractly, others go for the detail. My only advice is to try not going too dark immediately. I started with a wet-in-wet wash of yellow, orange, and red and just let the paint blend on the paper. That produced an interesting underpainting. The tricky thing for me is red shadows. Do you go violet? or Deeper red? I went with adding burnt sienna to my reds for the main shadow and I’m pleased that it’s not too heavy. So many decisions in a painting!

  4. Ah – the rare but oh so necessary Dr. Ph Martins! I only recently bought a new set, I still had an ancient few tiny bottles from the 80s !! Gorgeous poppies… ❤️

  5. Outrageous is the perfect adjective. My plant produced 2 blooms (1 last year) but alas the heat got them before I got them on paper. Lesson learned (again), don’t delay!
    Wonderful drawing! I love the reds and also the many colours in the darks. It’s a treat.

    • Don’t delay is right! I didn’t realize they would be gone so soon– and maybe some years they last longer if the weather is right. Still, I’m glad I sketched when I did. I’d be quite disappointed if I’d missed them.

  6. I hope you plant more – they’re such delightful flowers. When I was in NY at a garden on Staten Island last month, I photographed two that appeared to be at different stages, pollen-wise. One had a well-defined center (the ovary I guess) and greenish-yellow stamens, the other had a slightly fuzzier center with blue-gray stamens that were dusting pollen onto the petals. All parts of these flowers are wonderful, aren’t they? 🙂

    • The stamens on these are dusky purple– what a surprise. I agree, all parts of this flower are interesting. I’m looking forward to collecting the dried seed pods.

  7. What a stunning journal entry, Jean! While the brilliant colors and the linear detail are exquisite…it was the powerful graphic quality of the composition that grabbed my eye immediately. Outstanding!! ♥️🥰

    • Thanks Suzanne. I “saw” this in my mind before putting pen to paper and knew I wanted to go for a bold design that would showcase the boldness of the flowers. I’m glad it worked!

  8. Jean, your work is so inspiring. Fabulous job on the poppies.
    The colors are so rich and vibrant.
    I absolutely love the pods as well. Double joy from a single flower.
    I hope you’ll do another drawing with the pods they produce.
    Many thanks.

  9. “Poppies. Poppies. Poppies will put them to sleep” Wizard of Oz. Beautiful! Such eye catching colors! Tho I can’t grow them, I never tire of their color and delicate appearance.

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