Creating Magic (a dandelion  clock painting )

Creating Magic (a dandelion clock painting )

Hi everyone, I am resurrecting an old blog I wrote a year or so ago, as someone asked about a recent dandelion piece I have painted.

I absolutely love this time of year, when everything is so full of promise and the trees are bursting into life  The past few days have been glorious. It is also my birthday week, a great time to treat myself...a day by the sea hunting for sea glass at Charmouth 

followed by lunch on the beach at Lyme Regis, crab sandwiches and a cold glass of white wine, yum...

So it seems apt to share  one of my dandelion clock pieces with you, as although they can get everywhere, I can't help thinking that if they were rare, we would think of them as truly beautiful

There is always a bit of magic associated with dandelions for me, they remind me of children's books and playing in the garden. Then when I came to paint to day, my brushes had been drying in my paint box, leaving their own bit of magic behind.


 Lets face it, we all need a bit of magic from time to time, and for me watercolours enables me to have a go at creating some .Watching the paint flow, and merge creating  magical patterns is a joy. Sometimes I wish I could just capture my mixing tray, as the paint looks amazing mixing with water and doing it's own thing. 

As an artist I see my job as shepherding the paint, and bending it to my will, while still giving it it's freedom to roam, and believe me it isn't easy gentle on yourself, have a go, enjoy the process and hope for the best. BUT if it goes awry don't be too fed up, it has taken me years and years and I am still learning. I still get annoyed .I still want to improve.

Today I though I would show you one of my dandelion clock paintings, these take time and a mixture of precision and recklessness.

Firstly I sketched out a dandelion clock and a red admiral butterfly just landing on it.


Now get hold of some masking fluid that is removable, this is the brand I use.

Next I pour some into the lid and add a little water, and find a paper clip 

Now I use the watered down masking fluid to draw in all the dandelion seeds on the clock and some floating away. This is a task for a day when you feel like sitting quietly and being precise, I find holding the paperclip on a slight angle helps with the flow of the masking fluid. have a practise on an old bit of paper first. 

If I show you so the paper catches the light you can see better, I also add some splashes and dots of masking fluid to make the image more dynamic.



Now leave that to dry, make sure it is completely dry before you start painting or your hard work will go to waste. Make sure you put the lid back on the masking fluid too or it will dry out.

Now to begin the butterfly, start with the lightest colours first, ( I have a blog on a butterfly painting if you want more detail) 

Then the rest of the wing

I have let the watercolour run down the paper, using a spray bottle, and the right amount of water.

Then I painted the stem of the dandelion clock, see where the lights and darks are, 

Now I need to prepare the magic....

I have a pot with indigo paint and phaleo blue. I want a lot of pigment I have a spray bottle and clean brushes, and water. This is fun!

I paint on lots of colour, lots of water and also let some of the butterfly colours run around with the blues.

Make sure you cover all the paper you want to, especially dark around the dandelion clock so it stands out, Try and vary the shade by adding more water or more paint, and when you are happy you can add more texture with water splashes, salt or cling film....


I think this is the pure magic of watercolour. Now go away and leave it, overnight if you can.

When you return take off the cling film, rub off the masking fluid and fill in any bits you need to 

A magical painting and a magical day, I only use this technique now and again, but when I do it's magic x

Back to blog


Hello Rachel,
Happy birthday !!
My english is so bad that I didn’t dare to write … But I must thank you for sharing all these beautifull watercolors. I love. especially animals, and tried lot of them.
Few success with the chicken, but try again !
Merci merci!

Noëlle Lasmayous

I can’t wait to give it a’s so beautiful! I’ve never watered down masking before..thank for sharing this with us!

Carole Gremillion

Hi Rachel, this is lovely! I had a go and the result was good, I use blue masking fluid as it’s easier to see where I have put it.

Ruth Schad

I ADORE your work! I gave this a shot and loved playing with the dandelion and butterfly! Thank you for sharing your beautiful talent and process for us!

Wanda Grose

Rachel, incredible work and so generous of you to share. I’ve only just started with watercolours (my school teacher said I was a lost cause so it has taken me 40+yrs to try) and I’m loving it. It really helps me to learn by seeing what you do. Thank you!


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