Bathed in Silver Wisteria

42 cm x 30 cm; watercolour on brown rice paper; 2016

Blog Post 4

Yes, the chicks are awed by the silver Wisteria. Who wouldn’t be?

I used brown paper so the silver sheen of the flower petals can be seen. Actually, the flowers have two layers of watercolour paint: the first layer was a combination of  green and white; and the second layer was poster silver. I also painted a bit of the landscape where the awed chicks view the silver Wisteria flowers.

I painted this composition in the following sequence: leaves, flowers,  more leaves, vines, chicks, and landscape. I’m sharing the following tips so you can paint the essence of the silver Wisteria and the awed chicks.

To paint the bunches of Wisteria flowers:

  • To paint the large, upper petals: Load a large/medium white brush with green (mixture of rattan yellow and green), then dip its tip into white poster colour. All large petals should appear white at the upper part and greenish at the bottom.
  • To paint the small, lower petals: Dip the tip of the brush into white poster colour.
  • When still damp, paint silver poster colour over all the petals. You can apply 1 or 2 layers of silver colour.
  • When still damp, use poster yellow colour to paint 2 dots (to represent stamens) at the lower part of each pair of large petals.
  •  All round-tipped buds at the tip of each flower bunch should be pure white.
  • To paint the attachment of each bud to the branch: Load a thin brush with umber, then dip its tip in medium ink.

To paint the leaves:

  • To paint mature leaves: Load a large bamboo brush with yellow-green (mixture of rattan yellow and green); then dip its tip in  flower blue.
  • Make 3 bunches of leaves at the top of the paper. All other bunches of leaves can be painted after painting the flowers. Review:  The edges of the composition should not show even lines of flowers and leaves.
  • To paint young leaves: Load a medium white brush with yellow-green; then dip its tip into rouge. Young leaves should come out at or near the the tips of the young vines.

To paint the chicks in 3 positions:


  • Prepare the 4 colours of the chicks: dark ink for the eye, beak, and nostril; rattan yellow for the head, wings, and feet; poster white for the throat and body, thigh, and dots on legs and feet; umber for a thin line before the eye, body, and outlines of the body and the wings.
  • Load a thin stiff brush with dark ink to paint the eye, beak, nostril, and feet.
  • Use a medium white brush to paint the wings and the body.
  • Do not show short, feather strokes on the wings and the body. Apply white and yellow colours in one stroke to paint smooth, even colours. Just press down the loaded brush so no lines will show.
  • When the eye is dry, add a tiny white dot.

To paint the vines:

  • To paint aged, woody vines: Load a medium brown brush with with umber + ink (an almost black mixture). Use dry brush strokes to represent old, curved, dry vines.
  • To paint young, whippy vines: Load a small brown brush with green (mixture of rattan yellow and green). Paint some young leaves attached to these vines.

To paint the landscape:

  • Use a large brown brush for light and dark side-brush strokes.
  • Wash with umber to outline the ground surface. When still wet, wash the light areas with emerald green. Blend the colours of the ground with a wet brush. Dry.
  • Use ink to paint the mosses on the old vines and the ground surface.



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