Dahlia Beauty

A Dahlia beauty in pink experience right after our home burned down August 13, 2023. Our neighbor, Jennifer, is an absolute green thumb who regularly does magic in her garden every year.
dahlia Pink Two 10
Her garden (it survived) after the fire, was still beautiful and abundant. Jerry made sure to bring their generator out, to be able to keep watering it. Jen shared all the tomatoes and flowers we could pick from her garden, it was a real blessing. It made me feel as though we would be okay.

dahlia Pink Two 03This painting is from one of those dinner plate Dahlia’s that we picked and I took many many pictures of. So, I could paint them later on. I hope to someday be able to produce the beauty she does every year.
dahlia Pink Two 02

Dahlia Closeup 03

Dahlia Closeup 04

Now the process changes for this Dahlia Closeup 03 painting with a more detailed addition of brush fulls of color added to specific portions of the wetted canvas. It is almost magical and so very entertaining to watch the colors blend themselves together. These areas appear a lot more brilliant when they are wet and pale as they dry. So, I have grown accustomed to applying way more bold amounts of pigment than I used as I go through this part of the process.

I use mixes that sometimes seem quite unusual but they work out quite well when you watch them mix themselves together.

Dahlia Closeup B1020
12″w x 13″h watercolor on 300lb Arches paper. Three Dahlia blossoms with unopened buds, orange, magenta on an alizarin crimson background.

The process involves me putting in dark colors and then light colors. Back and forth and judging how things look before proceeding. Painting realistic flower blossoms is fun but I like to stop painting before it becomes a photographic representation. We have lots of cameras available now for that achievement, but artists remain a real human element that keeps art alive in our society.

Don’t get me wrong, I do love photography. However, I have noticed that there are way too many people taking poor-quality photographs on their phones and sharing them. Our human creativity is overwhelmed with thousands of unnamed and unremarkable images that are shared on the internet. It is way too much of a volume of mediocrity to wade through each day. Will our loving artistic souls survive the inundation of this onslaught?

Thanks for checking out this tutorial on Dahlia Closseup painting.

Plumeria in Process

Plumeria White Ylw 02
Plumeria White & Yellow 02

This watercolor of plumeria in process recreates how the flowers look when they are rinsed and spread across a kitchen table while stringing leis.

Notice the yellow-centered white plumerias have a brilliant center fading out to white edges and tip. To accomplish this I wet the entire petal area so I can do a wet-on-wet process with the paint. Fill a brush with Aurolean yellow. Begin applying by pulling from the tip on the outside edge of the petal to the interior in the center and lifting the brush. This leaves a wonderful puddle of light yellow bleeding out evenly and gradually to the outer edges of the petal. Do the other side of the petal.

The next shade is New Gambouge, which is a kind of orangish yellow. Same brush loaded with color, then pulling from about 3/4 or 1/2 of the petal length to the inside and lifting again at the center to produce that darker orange tint in the center. Do both sides of petal. In the image below, you can see how the New Gambouge further defines the radiance of that center area and push it into the distance.

Darken the Center

Plumeria White Yellow 03

Apply using a light touch with a smaller brush of Daniel Smith Quinacridone Gold or an orange-brown to your liking, to emphasize edges and the center even more. I notice a darker shadow right under the edges of where the petal folds up on the sides remaining white. This underneath surface of the petal is where I apply the darker color sparingly.


Finally, with the same small brush, I drop a little pool drop of Dioxazine Purple right in the middle where you would insert your needle to string a lei. Purples are a perfect “shadow maker” for yellows. The wet surface lets the purple bleed naturally out into the petal making an incredibly believable shadow and depth.  I also use this same purple in very light washes to create drop shadows where the flowers overlap each other, edge outlines, and stem peek out from behind.

Reds and Pinks

Plumeria red & pink

The same steps are taken with the red plumeria sing the wet-on-wet process. Using a light wash of Alizarin Crimson, adding Purple Lake, touching with Vermillion then more Alizarin Crimson in the middle. Last is that drop of Dioxazine Purple in the center. For the pink the same steps but what I noticed is that there is almost a stripe effect with the different colors on each petal. I start with an Alizarin Chrimson, adding Vermillion, adding Pyrrol Orange, then Cadmium Yellow Pale in stripes that I let bleed into each other. Again, the last is that drop of Dioxazine Purple in the center.

More posts like these are under the category of “Watercolor”

PLUMERIA memories

PLUMERIA memories can be painted if you have enough pictures of them stored away in your mind. I used to make lei’s all the time. Before I know it, I am simply painting the colors and textures that I remember. I can almost see and smell the flowers in my hands and these memories seem to guide my brush.

plumeria white and yellow

Right after I finished my client’s piece, I started on another plumeria memory for a birthday coming up. She is family who made many lei’s with me. Starting with multiple sketches of flowers until I arrive at an arrangement that suits me, the process begins.

plumeria sketch JH
plumeria sketch
pink plumeria blossoms

The plumeria tree has big pointed dark green leaves and produces a thick stem that branches out to multiple pods, creating a bunch of blossoms. Plumeria is a 5 petal flower with pointed ends spreading out in an equal circular fashion. It has a sturdy tube from its petals-creating an easy-to-string tube stem that begins as a cone shape coming down from the blossom which then reduces into a smaller diameter where it anchors to the pod.

While picking, you have to take care to keep the milky sap off of yourself. It really is poisonous but honestly, I have never known anyone stupid (lo-lo) enough to eat that yucky tasting stuff. I remember doing the “wash your hands” thing right after picking or lei making. It was so sticky and tasted quite vile (pilau) if you ate something and licked your fingers afterward.

 A Youth of Lei Making

Lei making is truly an art and many Hawaiians excel at creating gorgeous and fragrant creations that are a joy to see and wear. My favorite lei is puakinikini it has an almost magical entrancing aroma. In elementary school, lei designs were fun and simple. But in high school, things got serious to enter the May Day Lei Making contest at the state capitol.

We had large plumeria trees lining the dirt road in the front of our house. People used to come and knock on our door to ask permission to pick. Those trees provided the whole neighborhood.

There was a great big one that had thick white petals with bright yellow centers and a truly heavenly perfume. The thick petals allowed it to last the longest in a lei. Right next to it was an established old tree with blossoms that had a more slender and thinner type of petal. It had brilliant pinks and a yellow center, with not so sweet a fragrance, and didn’t last as long.

The only color missing was dark red, so I got a branch from a friend to plant in the backyard. It grew into a beautiful tree right in the guava orchard area. It took a couple of years before it was big enough to supply “a grocery sack-full” of flowers to work with, but even with little amounts of the dark reds some really interesting patterns and designs in our lei making through.

More posts like this are under the category of “Watercolors“.