Painting a white subject, like a white rose, other white flowers or a white dress is always challenging and makes the most FUN in watercolor.
But which colours are the best to describe maybe a white flower or a white dress? How to paint the colour white in watercolor or any medium? You can use cool colours to describe the shadows or warm colours. This depends on what you want to say.
I have painted already so many white flowers and roses so I can show you some excamples how I described the white subject in my paintings.
Usually a nice purple mix is a good shadow colour. A mix of a blue and a red works well. But what if we add some yellow or some orange or maybe a green colour to our shadows?
Here are some pictures of some recent paintings.
The real white in each of these watercolor paintings is the white of the paper.
When painting a white subject we only paint the shadows and the darker areas in the subject or the reflections from other surrounding subjects.
In the first picture, the Daisy painting, is a lot of white paper to see because the small petals are mostly all flat. Only the petals with the shadows got some colours. I used mainly a blue grey colour to paint the shadow.
In the second picture I also used blue and made some purple (mixing a red and blue) and I also used some yellow on the petals. But the painting looks really cool. It is a cool white rose with a lot of blue and blue-purple in this painting.
Now to the third picture. This rose is bathed in sunlight. These shadows do really sing the sun song, they are dancing on the petals. For these shadows I used a warm yellow, some orange, a mix of blue and red (favouring the colour red) and also some green. The shadows are all warm and so it makes the whole painting warm and completely different to the cool white rose. But I love the cool white rose the same as I like the warm rose.
And here are two photos where I can show excactly what happens when we change the cool shadows to warm shadows.
Ines – Watercolor figure painting
© Doris Joa
When painting my beautiful model I wanted to portrait elegance, grace and soft femininity. Unfortunately I painted the shadows too grey, there was too much blue added in the shadows. Although the skin tones, the hair and her pose looked great – the painting didn’t look so as I wanted to have it. I decided to change the colours on the dress. I simply painted over the greys using yellow, orange, red and purple and was amazed with the result. Also I warmed up the background colour. In this painting the warm colours are more appealing and they describe perfect what I wanted to say.