A quick but effective way to decorate a small object is by painting a simple garland of hand-painted flowers. “Oh! But I am not a painter I hear you say!!” Well, that’s ok, because you don’t need any specific skills for this technique. It is VERY forgiving! And it does not have to be perfect.
1. First, download the image of the flower in the garland below, and print it from your computer, or if you feel particularly competent, hand draw on tracing paper.
2. Copy the image using chalk or pencil or transfer paper, on card, fabric, or a paper mache/wooden box that has already been prepared with 1-2 coats of a suitable acrylic background paint. I use a transfer paper in light or dark shades according to the colour of the background paint. ( light on dark backgrounds, vice versa on light backgrounds)
3. Using your chosen dark colour, (in the example: Paynes Grey/Dark Blue) stroke in the petals with shape-following/comma strokes, beginning at the outside of the flower and pulling the strokes towards the centre, using a synthetic/sable round brush in size 3 or 4, depending on how big you want the petals.
*If you know how to do ‘comma’ strokes, use them, but a fine tapered tip near the centre of the petal is not necessary. So don’t stress. If you need more help in forming the strokes: see the linked articles below.
4. Load a round or filbert synthetic brush (hogs hair or sable brushes don’t work so well here), with Warm White, or a light contrasting colour.
NB: In this technique, you do not wet the brush, or if you do dip it in the water jar, squeeze out most of the moisture, on some kitchen paper towel.
5. Begin to gently stroke in some colour, on top of the already existing blue colour, pulling just the top half of the brush over each petal, starting at the outer edge. Lift off completely before reaching the end of the petal, so that the darker blue colour will still show towards the centre. The dark colour then acts as your shadowed area, and the white is the highlighted area of the petal. This gives your flower more of a three-dimensional look.
6. Continue adding layers of warm white in this dry brush technique until you are happy with the effect.
Caution: It is always easy to dry brush additional highlight into the petals, if there is not enough, however, removing it if you have put on too much to begin with is extremely difficult and messy. **** If this happens, just re-do your basecoat of dark blue again, and start from #4.
7. If need be, use a brighter white, in an even smaller area near the very edge of the petal, to create ever more of a highlight. Watch the leaf that has the turn-back, as this leaf will be in more shadow than the others, and as such, still retains most of the blue shade.
8. Paint the centre with a ‘stipple’ effect, in a c shape, leaving the centre in the dark blue colour. The highlight colours I used include: gold oxide, yellow and white on the very highest edge. The ‘stipple’ effect is sort of like dot, dot dotting, the colour in just with the very tip of the brush. You can use an older brush for this, or a round hogs hairbrush, as it is not so imperative to have a fine point.
In this example, I also used the same dry brush technique for painting the leaves: Using a pine green colour for the base, and adding progressively more yellow to the green to get a lighter colour, using this as my dry brushed highlight.
Image of pencil outline adapted from V. Phelps, FADP.