Painting Irises with Gouache

While I was traveling in Germany, I realized I did not pack nearly enough watercolor paint for the types of paintings I wanted to work on!

I often like to paint large bearded iris flower heads and though the paper I packed was only 8×5.5″, I wanted some bold colors and therefore the little watercolor pans I packed were just not going to do the trick.

Thankfully, I had my full set of Gouache paints with me. I decided to paint the irises with a similar layering technique as I use in watercolors. I normally work wet on wet, but sometimes I just paint in thin layers until I get the effect I am looking for.

If you follow me on Instagram you have probably already seen these, without all of the commentary of course.

Pink Bearded Iris

The first step in this process was to block in the shapes/colors.

Iris Shape sketched and blocked in.

In the second step, I darkened the background and added a layer of paint to the petals.

Finally, I worked in some detail on the leaves, and added another layer of paint to the petals.

Spiced Tiger Bearded Iris

In the spirit of learning new things, I decided to paint an Iris that was not purple or pink or blue which are the colors I normally use. So, now that I am feeling a bit more comfortable with the Gouache, I picked a yellow and wine colored iris! The thing is…. I don’t have this variety in my garden…. Uh, oh, I may need to shop for one this spring. I am not sure I have any room for more! That means the neighbors get lucky because I’ll have to rip up some of the others and give them away. If you are in the Longmont/Boulder area and you are interested in Irises, do follow my blog because I will announce here when I have rhizomes to give away.

Step 1: Blocked in Iris shape and painted the darks on the bottom petals.
Step 2: Worked on the left top petals. This took several layers, painted with a #00 brush!
Steps 3/4: Completed top petals, added detail to leaves, darkened background.

I am enjoying painting these small gouache paintings. I still feel like the paints are harder to manipulate than my normal watercolors, but I am starting to get more control while still achieving a loose feel.

That’s it for today. Stay tuned for a write up of some of the other projects I’ve been working on.

Thanks for visiting!