A bright loose poppy

A bright loose poppy

Hi back into my routine, and back to writing a blog post on a Thursday afternoon. I can hear the rain pattering on my corrugated roof in my studio, the sky is grey and the sunshine of last week has gone. This week , here in the Uk, we have been coming to terms with the news that we shall be living under restrictions for a  while yet, the weather here in Devon appears to be mirroring our dampening mood. Things seem pretty bleak, but I am determined not to get too down about it all. I am fortunate to be able to paint, and get out into the countryside, I do hope you can all do that too. 

I hope these blogs can provide some light relief ,and some gentle instructions for those who feel inclined to have a go. I hope none of you feel you have to stick rigidly to what I say , I have discovered what I have through trial and lots of error. I have also changed the way I work when I have been told or shown something new, so don't be afraid of new ideas. Glean what you can from me, and anyone else whose style you like and whose tips are valuable.

 I use winsor and newton paints and bockingford watercolour paper, but I know many other painters who swear by Daniel Smith and Archers , use what suits you. Experiment, be adventurous, and if it works for you then that is all it needs to do.

So moving on from last weeks blog about a very loose foxglove painting, I thought I would revisit a poppy, no reason really except I wanted something bright and cheerful, I love popping that bright red onto the paper, I wanted to keep it loose, and show you how I did it.

I took a photo

and printed it off.


Then I did a quick sketch

Now I get a fairly big brush and wet the poppy and the surrounding paper

I do have a plan at this stage, I want to keep the area I am pointing to in the photo as bright as I can, this means using the white of the paper and my lightest colours.

So as I said I wet the paper

Really wet it all over

Now I go in with my lightest colour. A lovely light bright Indian yellow, nice bold strokes.


With some spots and splatters thrown in.

You can see from this angle how wet it all is, I take this opportunity to paint the stem, bring the yellow down and add darker greens to the right hand side.

Now leave it to settle a bit.

It isn't completely dry but I can add some cadmium orange, I am now building up the colour in layers , But I want some of the yellow to show through in the finished piece.


Now I can add my scarlet, how lovely is that, I also let it bleed over the edges. No-one can feel down with such bright colours dripping off their brush

Sadly when it dries it isn't as bright, can you see the yellow shining through, and the white of the paper showing through too.

The more you can play with light and dark the more vibrant the painting will be I think.

So now I add more red on top of the dry paper.

Then a bee...( well why not?)

It has dried lighter again, and you can see the direction of my brush strokes in the flower.

I now add my darker tones, at the bottom of the flower, the darker purple tone and some indigo against the lightest light to really make it stand out. These are my artistic decisions, you might not like them or want them in your work, you do what feels right for you.

Then I leave it all overnight.


It give some space between me and the painting when I come back in the morning I can decide if I need to do anything else.

I decided to add some more red and some gold ink ( my choices again) , I feel it is done, it has brightened up my day and what do you know the sun has come while I have been writing too. Happy Days x



  • Karen Broughton

    Been following you for a while, seeing the different styles you produce pushes me. Your blog and “steps and how to’s” help so much, you are incredibly generous, so thank you x

  • Judith

    Thank you so much for this demo. It has brightened my day and I always look forward to your blog each week. You are so inspiring.

  • Don

    Just found you via Twitter. Thank you for showing how you paint. You have inspired me to try again, I am in a wheelchair 🦼 so have to rely on my wife to get me set up etc, and can only paint for about 15 minutes before exhausted but it is so nice to do. X Don

  • Mary

    I enjoy the relaxed, loose look your paintings have, and appreciate your post as to how you go about achieving this. Thanks for sharing!

  • Sharon

    Thanks for sharing I’m new to watercolour and seeing the stages you went through has been really useful I love your style

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