52/52 Challenge- Painting # 24 –

6 Steps for Artists- Finish that Painting!

"Pretty in Pink" Original watercolor by Mindy Lighthipe ©2012

I know that tulip time has passed and that summer is here but this gorgeous pink tulip is a painting that I started back in the spring before I got bombarded with orchids! Sometimes paintings get left unfinished because something else comes along. With a good solid drawing, paint mixing swatches and some reference photos a painting can come to life and be completed months after it is long gone.

Here are the steps I take to make sure I get all the information I need to complete a painting long after the flower is gone:

  1. Get a good line drawing and composition on a sturdy piece of tracing vellum.
  2. Transfer the drawing onto watercolor paper and redraw to make sure all the lines are fluid, graceful and clearly rendered.  All stems should be in the center of the flowers, etc.
  3. Mix and create color swatches of the flower. The foliage lasts longer and can be done later. This is also true for the bulb and root system.
  4. Paint a petal on a scrap and record the colors used. If it is a complicated color mix, mix enough paint for the painting and save that palette for when it comes time to return to the painting.
  5. Take reference photos of the flower and include macro shots of different parts of the flower, ie: like where the petals meet the stem. I use photos for subtle details rather than for color matching. Color should be done in swatches and documented. Relying on colors from a photo can often be very inaccurate.
  6. Probably the most important thing is to gather all this information and put it all together in a safe place and remember where that safe place is! It is very frustrating to try to complete something without having everything you need in one place.

I hope that these 6 tips help you to create good working habits so that paintings can be completed later on.

Do you have a system that you use to document and save your reference material? I would love to hear from you!


This painting is available for sale. Contact me for more information.