With the longer days of spring now with us, the turn of the season is once again making itself known. With springtime we get the first beautiful flowers of the year. Early snowdrops lead to crocuses and daffodils, then the camellias and magnolias. Come April, an explosion of colour from delicate blossom to the full-on magnolias are filling our warming days with scent and joy.
I love this time of year, and now the clocks have gone forwards again, it really does feel like summer is on its way. No spring selection would be complete without at leas one narcissus painting. This year I decided to paint a delicate, almost pure white cluster of tiny narcissus. Painting white is always a challenge, especially as you are relying on the greys to do the work.
Colours used for the Narcissus paperwhite
- Indanthrene Blue
- Anthraquinoid Red
- Cobalt Blue
- Transparent Orange
- Perylene Maroon French Ultramarine
- Transparent Yellow
As it had been some time since I painted a daffodil, I thought it was time to go again. This time the more delicate variety of paperwhite caught my eye. These are generally the forced varieties which we often grow indoors in time for Christmas. Mine were a little later and came just in time for the first days of spring.
I loved painting these. The tiny cluster of this near-white variety are less full-on than the larger, brighter and generally more over the top yellow daffodils, and I am certainly a fan. Subtle greys were used to achieve the shape and form of the petals, with a barely there hint of warm yellow into the centre. The stamens in deep, warm orange along with the deeper greens of the stalks and stem brough a pop of contrast to the white blooms, and brought balance to the study.
White flowers are often the most challenging as you have to get the colour of the neutrals just right. Temperature plays a big role, and judging if you need a warm or cool palette of grey can be tricky. It’s one of the reasons why I always mix my own greys using the primaries of yellow, red and blue. Mixing these together will give you a wider variety and range of hues than by using a premixed grey or neutral alone. It’s also possible to alter the dominance of the grey. All you do is add in more of one of the primaries.