Hellebore, throwing everything at it !

Hellebore, throwing everything at it !

Hi , I am sitting in my little studio in my garden at the back of my house. The weather for the past couple of days has been dreary and light levels have been low, it doesn't really help to lift your mood. However we must do what we can.

For me my most valuable asset is my location, I can get straight out into the countryside, I see that glimmer of light, those glorious sunsets , it is a pleasure to walk up my lane. Soak up the views and see the colours. This photo was taken earlier this week, it was a real treat to watch the sun go down over the hedgerows.

I love hellebores, they are so unassuming , but they flower their hearts out at this time of year, through January , February and March, and if you gently lift their heads, they are even more amazing to peer into.

I am often asked which to do first the background or the subject...a bit like the chicken and the egg. As with most things though there is no hard and fast rule. I tend to paint the hellebore first then do the background and this is how ...

So here is my preliminary sketch 

Now this is an occasion for masking fluid

I keep old lids and decant some masking fluid into them, then I apply it to small areas with an uncurled paper clip.



Next I used masking fluid to mask off the stamen 


Then when they were completely dry, I began work on the petals. I love the delicate colours on the flower. Subtle pinks, greens and creams. try to replicate what you can see, 


A touch of cerulean blue here and there too.. Carry on working your way around the flower.


Observe carefully were the veins on the petals go. 



Can you see as it dries I can go in with darker tones, and add shadows on the petals. the masking fluid protects my lighter colours so I can go in dark in the centre.


Now you can begin on the leaves around the flower. I can make them very dark , especially where the leaves touch the very light flower, making it seem even lighter. I am playing around with tones here.

These leaves are more loosely painted than the flower, and I can add the spots quite randomly to the petal as I know the background will cover those that spill over onto the white paper.

Because I am dancing around with my brush and using lots of colours , my palette and painting water need cleaning and replacing regulary


Now the scary part. With these sort of backgrounds...just go for it. I already know the colours I want to use so wet in wet, adding colours as I go, don't go back into it once you've painted it and keep going. All around the painting. Dark bold colours as well as light zingy colours, Indigo, Hooker's green dark, phthalo blue, viridian, lemon yellow, indian yellow....go for it 


Now the whole page is covered. I have sprinkled a bit of salt over it so give it more texture, and used some cling film crinkled on to to create texture, , now leave it to dry.

Now to remove the masking fluid and painted in the stamen,.

And so this is the finished piece. It all settles down when it dries. I added some spots and splatters of white and dark green, for a bit more energy, remember to cover the flower if you do this or you can splatter that too, gold paint adds a final flourish 

I have found myself recently having more fun with backgrounds, as with all art it is a personal choice.

I hope you have fun with your paintings too, and that you find comfort and joy in these dark damp days . Turn up the fire and hunker down x




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How lovely, really appreciate the tuturial, backgrounds are something I struggle with – I get bored trying to fill them in too! but seeing how you can spatter and create texture and interest is really inspiring. Betty (elderberry-rob.blogspot)




So beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

Pam Hornschu

That is truly beautiful, love your explanation too, thank you x


Just beautiful


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