46 cm x 27 cm; watercolour on rice paper

Blog Post 22

These are Poinsettias, one of my favorite flowers. They are also known as Christmas Flowers. It’s not easy to raise them because they’re so friendly to aphids and ants.  That’s why I just buy a big, flowering pot every Christmas season—my Christmas decor which lasts until the Lenten season (March or April).

Christmas Poinsettias.jpg Lenten Poinsettias.jpg

                               Christmas 2016                                          Lent 2017

I entitled my painting  Noche Buena because my Mexican friend told me that in Mexico, Poinsettia is known as  Noche Buena (Good Night). Here in the Philippines, Noche Buena means a midnight feast when December 24 turns to December 25—Christmas!


Use thick, white, Taiwan rice paper. Here’s the sequence of painting the flower: center; 1st layer of petals (innermost; vermillion or yellowish); 2nd layer of petals; 3rd layer of petals; stems; young and old leaves. You can have add ons:  Chinese weeds; butterflies, or bees.

Here are more tips on how I painted Noche Buena:

-On painting the center (actually, a cluster of very small flowers):

  • With a wet brush, load a small brush with yellow green (mix more green + yellow), then dip the tip with rouge. When still damp, dot the center with a rouge dot.
  • Make a 5-10 cluster of small flowers.

-On painting petals (actually, the colored bracts):

  • For the 1st layer: Don’t mix vermillion and carmine to paint 2-toned petals. Load a wet, large, white brush with vermillion, and then dip its tip with dark carmine. Make a set of small, 7-8 petals. There should be no gaps between petals. N.B.: Each petal is made with 2 strokes—from inside to outside. Press the brush on paper to make wide petals. Tips of petals are just added. When still damp, add rouge veins, using a fine, hard brush.
  • For the 2nd layer: This should not be a complete layer. Do not show all the petals to have an angle of the top-side view of the flower. Start painting the petal thinly, beginning halfway from the base of the 1st layer petals.
  • For the 3rd layer: Just like the 2nd layer of petals, this is not a complete layer. Petals here are long, and are painted only on the  foreground. Make them fall gracefully at the center, foreground.
  • Use medium white brush and brown/beige paper to paint peach petals (load with poster white + vermillion tip + vermillion veins) or white petals (load with poster white + avocado green tip + light green veins) poinsettias. Add thin veins when petals are still damp. N. B.: Each petal should be done with several strokes to make the veins stand out.

-On painting leaves:

  • Load a large, brown, stiff bamboo brush  to paint large, dark green, mature leaves. Mix more green than rattan yellow. Wet the brush, load with (rattan) yellow + green, then dip its tip with flower blue or dark ink. Start painting from the leaf base. Be sure to make stops (presses) to make leaf notches, as the leaves look like large holly leaves. When still damp, load a thin, stiff brush with dark ink and paint the leaf veins.
  • Use a medium or small brown  brush to paint smaller, young leaves in pale green leaves. Load the brush with  (rattan) yellow + green  (avocado green mix), then dip its tip in rouge.
  • N.B.: Paint leaves in various orientations, and with some upturned leaves (i. e., upturned leaf tips or sides).

-On paintings stems:

  • Paint a young, soft stem to hold each flower. Load a wet, medium brown brush with  yellow-green (more green than rattan yellow), and then dip its tip  in rouge.
  • Attach young stems to old, woody stems. Load a wet, large, stiff brush with umber and then dip its tip in dark ink. Make the old stems appear rough, knotty, and mossy. Use dark ink to paint clustered mosses.

-On painting add-ons:

  • Load a thin white brush with umber, and then dip its tip with light ink. Paint long, thin, Chinese grasses to fill in gaps among flowers, stems, leaves, but always aim for balance in your compostition.
  • Paint butterflies or bees with colors to complement the color of the Noche Buena; e. g.,  butterflies with yellow and vermillion-tipped wings.

Take photos of Poinsettias throughout its long blooming season,  lasting from the Christmas season  until the next year’s Lenten season. Have lots of photos to come up with beautiful Poinsettia paintings—cheerful Christmas flowers which won’t wilt, get eaten by aphids, or just die.

2 thoughts on “Noche Buena

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