Color the Emotion

Pick a few colors and create without stiffness.

Finishing a Watercolor Painting

This week, I have a video about finishing a watercolor painting.

Puutarhurin palkinneet - Gardener's Rewards, watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola, Finland. Flowers in watercolor.
“Puutarhurin palkinneet – Gardener’s Rewards, watercolor, size A3.
See more pics on the Finnish art store Taiko’s website!

Painting Freely and The Challenge of Finishing

I paint watercolors freely without models or reference photos. It’s exciting to see what appears on the paper and to examine random spots trying to find flowers and plants, which are my favorite subjects. I believe that if I manage to create favorable conditions, the plants will start to grow naturally on paper.

Finishing a watercolor painting. Putting the best energy to the focal point.

When painting flowers freely without references, it’s easy to omit the details. But I think that the details make the finished look. Everything doesn’t have to be sharp and intricate but focus on those parts that you want to catch the viewer’s eye.

Making a Color Chart

My watercolor set has colors from many different manufacturers. I use artist-quality colors and always as pans. If I buy a tube, I’ll squeeze the paint into the pan. I like to use a color chart. The colors look darker when wet and on the pans as well. And there are differences in how pigments behave.

Making a color chart. Watercolor painter's tool.

My grid follows the order of the pans and I add the names of the pigments below the color samples. A part of the colors are in a separate box waiting for their turn to get to the 36-pan set. I make notes on them at the end of the chart. The color chart prevents me from buying several similar pans (that happened too many times before I made one!) and helps with memorizing which colors are my favorites.

Start Freely – Finish Slowly!

There are watercolor painters who wet the paper, draw a few brushstrokes on it and the painting is finished. I work on the same painting for several hours and slowly approach the result layer by layer. It requires patience, but on the other hand, I can always paint on fine-quality cotton paper because my approach is less experimental.

I love that the painting doesn’t immediately shout but first whispers timidly. Each painting is unique and I like to spend time getting to know it. In doing so, I will not only learn something about the painting or myself but about humanity and nature in general.

Painting flowers freely with watercolors.

I want the result to look natural, although there is also a lot of decoration in my paintings. I love ornaments – swirls, decorative lines, and shapes, and my favorite historical style is Baroque. It is easy for me to see the luxury of baroque in plants. As a child, I imagined palaces and halls around me when walking in nature. Life in a remote small town in the 1970s was modest, but I got by with imagination.

Finishing a Watercolor Painting – Watch the Video!

In the video, I have footage from the finishing phase. There you can see that when proceeding little by little, you can add all kinds of things even in the final stages. It’s common for me that a shape is just a circle at first, but then I add notches to it and make it a leaf or a flower. Watch the video!

Freely Grown – Using Colored Pencils for Finishing

If you are new to watercolor painting, working with thin brushes can feel challenging. It’s then easier to use colored pencils for finishing a watercolor painting. I have a course called Freely Grown where you learn step-by-step how to make a layered watercolor painting and finish it with colored pencils. All this is done freely without models and by focusing on techniques, so your work has the same steps, but the result will be completely unique.

Freely Grown - online course about painting flowers freely. Start with watercolors and finish with colored pencils!

Freely Grown is now 15% OFF! >>Buy Now!
The sale ends on July 31st, 2024, at midnight PDT.

6 thoughts on “Finishing a Watercolor Painting

  1. Hello – just wanted you to know I’ve been following you for some time and so admire and enjoy your work. Your love for flowers and plants surely show through in your paintings. I’m no artist at all but I always look forward to your postings. Thank you for sharing your beautiful work. Love from the desert Southwest, USA.❤️

  2. Hello, Päivi! This video is so inspiring that it almost makes me want to repeat the course! Unfortunately, I find it very difficult to make the time, but I’ve promised myself that the next time I paint something it will be like this video, with additional coloured pencils. Thank you so much!

  3. Such a lovely painting in your video. I remember it from the course, and enjoyed seeing it again.

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