Sierra Magazine: Explore, enjoy and protect the planet.
Warming Up Winter with Daffodils - Explore

« Yosemite Muse | Main | Astronomy: Discovering Something Old »


Warming Up Winter with Daffodils

What do you do when it's January and temperatures are heading for the 30s?

I paint daffodils. I paint whatever comes in to my grocery store, and this week they had the windswept variety called Jetfire. Jetfire is a Grant Mitsch daffodil—fragrant, early blooming, with a punch of orange-red on its trumpet. Mitsch was one of the first hybridizers to reach the Holy Grail of the pink-cupped daffodil, but he's also known for the elegant form he bred into all his daffodils: the Jetfire's chartreuse petals don't simply encircle the corolla, they sweep backward over the stem, as if they are caught in a high wind. Here I began to paint them in watercolor:

Everything's wet here. I began by covering the entire sheet of paper with clear water. I dipped a wet brush into color and touched it to the still-wet paper. This technique created the hazy color shapes you see in the image above. With a fingernail, I scratched out leaves and stems into the still-wet paper.

Fierston2When the paper dried (no coldness when I touched it) I painted a second layer of darker color over the first. Somehow I couldn't capture the vividness I was seeing, and I almost ruined the painting by adding too much paint. In despair, I took a photo of the painting and tried Photoshop's paintbrush and 35 percent opacity tools on the blossoms. 

I'm still not satisfied; I would blur and texture the trumpet on the left, if I were working with a brush.  But Photoshop helped me save this little picture. With more practice (and a drawing tablet instead of a mouse), I can see its possibilities for my own paintings.

-- Sue Fierston paints and teaches just outside of Washington, D.C. in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. As a painter, she works in acrylics and watercolor and is in the middle of a series called "100 Flowers." As a teaching artist, she works with teachers to bring art into their classrooms in grades 4-8. Her posts focus on her nature-themed art collaborations. For a look at her paintings or more about her teaching, check out her website at suzannefierston.com.

User comments or postings reflect the opinions of the responsible contributor only, and do not reflect the viewpoint of the Sierra Club. The Sierra Club does not endorse or guarantee the accuracy of any posting. The Sierra Club accepts no obligation to review every posting, but reserves the right (but not the obligation) to delete postings that may be considered offensive, illegal or inappropriate.

Up to Top