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Sunday, April 22, 2018

Some Tips for Painting Poppies

'Poppy Heaven'              8x10              pastel             ©Karen Margulis
I am painting poppies this week and have a new video in the works. In the meantime I hope you enjoy this post from the archives!

I went to Texas and was in Poppy Heaven! Yes the Bluebonnets were blooming and they were beautiful but the site of acres of poppies really stopped me in my tracks. The day after my workshop my host Marsha took me on a wonderful tour of the area. I had a 6:30pm flight and we fit in a lot of sightseeing. 

We began with a stop at Wildseed Farm wildflower farm in Fredericksburg. It was a dream come true for me. I had visited their website many times dreaming of my own wildflower garden. When we pulled into the parking lot I was overwhelmed by the fields covered in blooming poppies. I must have taken hundreds of photos. I have a lifetime supply of poppy references.

I love to paint poppies and have discovered some tips to achieve a more painterly flower.

  • I don't draw the flower first. I simply draw a circle shape where I want the flower to go. Then I use the SIDE of my pastel to paint large shapes that make up the petals. If I draw my flowers I tend to want to color them in and they look stiff.
  • I use three or four values of the poppy color to develop the flower. Even if I don't see it in the photo I like to begin with a dark, brick red shape (for red poppies). I add middle values to create the form.
  • I avoid using a pale or very light value red to paint the highlights. I find light pastels with too much white in their makeup lead to washed out flowers rather than vibrant flowers.
  • If I want my poppies to appear sunlit I will use a warm color such as red-orange for the light areas.
Here are a few photos from my visit to Wildseed Farms.

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