White Poppy

Someone please tell me what possessed me to try to paint white poppies on a Moleskine page previously toned with darker paint? As a first attempt with a difficult flower it would have made a lot more sense to use watercolor paper and reserve the whites. But no … I had to do it the bass ackward way. The background is all acrylic – a mixture of red, blue, yellow and white. Most of the white of the poppies is acrylic, the better to cover the mottled background. Then there’s some gouache in there for shadows, and more dilute acrylic on top.

These are Iceland poppies from (where else?) Descanso Gardens. I have some matilija poppies in a pot, and when they bloom I’ll give it another try.


  1. Lin
    March 31, 2006

    OH, but how glorious you have made them, difficult as it might have been! GRAND, Karen — simply grand! GORGEOUS shading and shadows!

  2. Kathleen Marie
    March 31, 2006

    AH, Karen… these came out very nice. And I think they have a charm all their own.

    Reserving the white (your next expeirment?) will give you a whole different quality.

    I like the “painterly-ness” of this style. ;) And painting in the wee hours of the morning is way cool—we must
    have the same sleep patterns. ha!

  3. Linda
    March 31, 2006

    They look wonderful and light!

  4. endment
    March 31, 2006

    Whatever you did — it worked!

  5. Elizabeth
    April 1, 2006

    In art, it is so often the greatest struggles that produce the greatest work. The poppies are stunning, Karen!

  6. Catinka Knoth
    April 1, 2006

    Sometimes it isn’t a question of sense. Perhaps you just wanted to explore more strongly the whites – to actually move over their whiteness (on your paper) with white on your brush instead of only being able to move over the shadow nuances. I say ‘move over’ – I mean the act of making marks/ laying down pigment in a particular area, expressing a sense of touching the flower by ones markmaking reflecting that imaginary touching. Ohh, too many words here.

    I love the magnolia blossom page too.

  7. Robin N
    April 1, 2006

    Part of the process is the exploration of what works, and why. These are beautiful explorations. Are you enjoying the gouache?

  8. Jennafer
    April 2, 2006

    Beautiful. You have captured the light, papery quality of poppies.

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