Ahhhh ….. I took a break from studying the form of facial planes to enjoy painting the blossoming hollyhocks again before they shrivel from the lack of rain.

Hollyhock Inspirations

Until a week ago, my sole inspiration for painting hollyhocks, aside from the gorgeous plants themselves, has been Jane Dyer’s illustrations for Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

A garden of Hollyhocks

Susan Abbott is teaching a plein air workshop in Provence and has been posting her paintings on her blog.  Susan’s hollyhocks along a narrow street in Viens has become inspiration number two!

Mine along with Jane’s and Susan’s

Hollyhock to hollyhock

A few adjustments to the painting

After brewing a cup of fresh Rose Geranium Tea, I saw that the green shape adjacent to the center blossom was too similar in value, shape and size.  I broke up the shape and softened some edges.

the source of my fresh brewed tea!

Paintings:  watercolors.  Color palette is Alizarin crimson, Gamboge, Jerry’s Blue and a tiny touch of cadmium red.


This evening’s flat, overcast light conditions inspired me to be inventive with greens while maintaining similar values. The play between positive and negative shapes caught my attention.  I wanted to create spacial layering without calling attention to the shape of individual leaves.

Hollyhocks with warm and cool green leaves

I began with a contour drawing using two fountain pens, one filled with Noodler’s Midnight Blue ink and the other with Noodler’s Green Marine ink. Using a pen brush filled with only water, I brushed the leaves to cause only a slight bleed of the ink.  I left it at that for about fifteen minutes until I found I needed a bit more substance to the drawing.  First I applied values with Ciao Copic Markers.  Still I needed more.  I wanted a limited range of colors to reflect the flat lighting.  Out came the watercolors.  Using a limited palette of peacock blue, lemon yellow and aurolean yellow I mixed the greens ranging from warm to cool, maintaining similar values and not crossing the boundaries of green (not extending into yellows or blues). Movement between shapes is created by the temperature change of the colors more than the value change, allowing the emphasis to remain on the interactions between the positive and negative shapes.