Gift-Giving Saga Part 1 - Wildflowers for Grandma

Wildflowers for Grandma: Watercolor

This is the first artwork for the Gift-Giving Saga as promised! Completing non-obligatory projects over the holidays is extremely taxing, so I will be posting these throughout the spring instead. While two of them made their way snuggly under the tree, the rest have now become Birthday Presents instead of Christmas presents. The family is not complaining though which is a WIN! (I have been promising them original artwork for years, so what’s a few more months? ;)

My grandmother lives in New York and loves wildflowers. The research for this first painting was very simple and consisted of me doing internet searches for pictures on fields of wild flowers in New York. Several of the pictures had farm land in the background or foreground. I remember lots of rolling hills and farmland from spending the first few years of my life in upstate New York.

Here are the reference photos I used. These are not my photos and they were retrieved from Google images. I apologize in advance for the shoddy photography of the drawing and paintings below. The lighting this winter was a bit rough with all the rain. I also needed to take some photos at night due to several obligations of the busy season and the florescent bulbs were not enough for professional looking indoor photos.

Click the photos to scroll through.

After mixing a few different photographs together, I decided on a very muted blue sky, farm land resting on the rolling hills in the background and areas of wildflowers in the foreground and mid-ground. I also mixed together a few different flowers from different fields with colors that complimented each other.

Before I draw the final compositions on the “good” paper I always make thumbnail sketches to make sure I have what I want. Here is the step-by-step of how I make my thumbnails.


It may take several drawings on the thumbnails to get the composition to look its best. You can fold the paper in several directions to find a clean piece to redraw. Here are the final sketches on my watercolor paper:


It is important to use a light touch while sketching on watercolor paper, especially because it is very difficult to erase lines without damaging the texture if you apply too much pressure. This can impact the way your paint flows and the way it looks after it dries.

Purple was my unity color in this piece so I started with the lighter under-layers first. Slowly and surely, layer upon layer, I built up the color and it came together nicely. This is a painstakingly long process, especially painting each blade of grass in the foreground. In the end it was well worth the effort. Again I apologize for the dark photos.


Unfortunately, I had to rush out the door with this one since I finished it the day we left for Christmas vacation. The only thing missing was the finished tree in the right had corner. It all turned out perfect and Grandma loved it!

Happy Painting!

Ashley DowellComment