Kerrie Woodhouse

Whimsical Watercolour

Painting Hydrangeas in Watercolor (and a story about why we paint)

Series of the MonthKerrie Woodhouse

Painting Hydrangeas in Watercolor

This month I have been painting hydrangeas in watercolor. I adore hydrangeas so I am quite surprised that in the very many monthly series I have painted so far I haven't created a  watercolor hydrangeas series before.

Actually the last hydrangea painting I did was in about five years ago, and I remember it being one of the first that I was actually quite happy with.

Would you like to see it?

 
Watercolour Flowers - Hydrangeas (Watercolour on Paper “9 x 12”) This painting was created in 2015, and one of the first that I was happy with!

Watercolour Flowers - Hydrangeas (Watercolour on Paper “9 x 12”) This painting was created in 2015, and one of the first that I was happy with!

 

I took a rather different approach to painting back then. I began with a more detailed pencil sketch and then used the watercolour as more of a coloring medium, a bit like an illustrator would.

These days my approach is much looser. I have come to realise that the thing I like best is to splash the paint about and let it do some of the painting for me. Hydrangeas are a terrific subject to paint in watercolor in a loose expressive way.

I do remember taking my first hydrangea painting along to a community painting group. I never went to art school and indeed never did art when I was at school, but I did try a few of these in person groups and lessons when the creative bug bit me much later in life. 

The idea in this particular group was that you would bring along something you have been working on for feedback from the group leader. Of course, she didn’t really give all that much feedback.

 
Hydrangeas no 1 - Abstractedly pink (Watercolour on Paper 8” x 10”)

Hydrangeas no 1 - Abstractedly pink (Watercolour on Paper 8” x 10”)

 

She did however  make a sort of disdainful squawk and exclaim, “Ugh, hydrangeas - my least favourite flower!”

A little offended on behalf of hydrangeas which I find to be rather beautiful, I enquired as to why she disliked them so. 

“Well, they are just blobs,” she said.

 
Hydrangeas no 5- Delight (Watercolour on Paper 8” x 10”)

Hydrangeas no 5- Delight (Watercolour on Paper 8” x 10”)

 

Now I’d like to think that I am a big enough girl to make up my own mind about hydrangeas and whether or not they are good enough painting subjects. But since I haven't painted them for many years, I can’t help but wonder if something she said might have planted itself in my subconscious next to the self doubt which is an inevitable part of the creative process. 

Another possibility is that there are an infinite number of glorious subjects to celebrate in paint that I simply haven't got back around to hydrangeas yet.

Yes, that one feels a lot better - let’s go with that, shall we?

And it raises a  far more important question:

 
Hydrangeas no 2- Sunny Abstract (Watercolour on Paper 8” x 10”)

Hydrangeas no 2- Sunny Abstract (Watercolour on Paper 8” x 10”)

 

Why do we paint?

Clearly, there are many reasons why we paint , but I think this is a really good one. 

To view someone’s painting is to look through their eyes. When that slightly mean lady running the art group I went to (only once) looks at hydrangeas she sees only blobs. That’s not what I see.

 
Hydrangeas no 4- Colourful Clusters (Watercolour on Paper A5)

Hydrangeas no 4- Colourful Clusters (Watercolour on Paper A5)

 

I am amazed at the cluster of tiny dainty four petalled miniature blooms that make up each glorious round composite hydrangea bloom. They all do their part to make up the sphere. Those big leaves seem lush and generous to me, like big gentle hands.

I also love the variation in colour that you find in hydrangeas. That makes me want to paint them in watercolor. The watercolor paint lends itself so naturally to offering just the sort of gentle colour transitions you find in hydrangeas.

There are so many colors to be found in each bloom on a single bush, - even the white ones. And I can find hydrangea bushes  in the most amazing range of my favourite colours, from blues to pinks and of course those rich purples. 

I have such a soft spot for painting flowers in vases. Hydrangeas sit so well in glass vases and speak of warm summer days spent in wicker chairs on sunny porches. Don’t you think?

 
Hydrangeas no 3 - Blue Hydrangeas (Watercolour on Paper 8” x 10”)

Hydrangeas no 3 - Blue Hydrangeas (Watercolour on Paper 8” x 10”)

 

And that’s why we paint.

It is the responsibility of the painter to show us the beauty they can see in the world. All the tiny delights to be found in everyday things. Because, not everybody can see these things.

How lucky we are to have painters to point out the joyful little things we might have missed.

May you see something beautiful today…. And paint it!


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