About this blog

WELCOME! My name is Ann Mortimer and I'm a professional watercolour artist and tutor from Nottingham, UK.

This is a "learn how to" and "problem solving" blog covering WATERCOLOUR TECHNIQUES.

You can look for things that interest you in the blog archive on the side bar when various topics have built up over time!

I'll be covering thing such as colour mixing, negative painting, using masking fluid, laying washes, painting water and all sorts of other things.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Painting shadows on white flowers

This is a sort of continuation of my narcissi demo uploaded in January 2012.  ( Look in the blog archive...scroll down and it's in the right hand side column.)

This is how to paint the white narcissi flowers.

I had left the flowers unpainted leaving the pristine white paper to represent the white of the daffodil trumpets.  But because flowers were backlit by the sun, there were some interesting cast shadows on the petals.

There are actually two types of shadow.

- The soft shadows showing the form of the petals and how they are creased and bumpy and have frilly edges to the petals.


-The harder edged shadows created by the one petal or stalk casting shadow shapes on to another.

They require different treatment.

I first mixed a shadow colour using cobalt blue mixed with quite a lot of water but. plenty of pigment too.  To this I added a touch of permanent rose (or you could use a touch of any pinky red).  Put the pink next to the cobalt blue and gradually mingle it in until you get a soft bluey grey.  You can add a touch of yellow to make it a bit greyer, but it needs to be a pretty grey not a dirty grey!

For the soft shadows
First wet the petal with clean water.  Then stroke a thick mix of the shadow colour into the petal and allow it to blend softly.  This creates the lines of shadow showing the creases within the petals.  If your mix is thick enough it will not spread too much but will stay as a soft shape.
Do the same for the edges of the petals referring to the photo and copying the shape making sure to leave a thin strip of white right at the edge.

For the hard edged cast shadows
Using a slightly darker mix of the shadow colour (add a touch more blue) paint the shadow shapes on wet on dry.  Do not blend them out but leave hard edged as this will give the impression of shapes being cast on the petal.

Your painting will look sunny only if you are brave enough to make the shadows nice and dark.  There has to be a lot of contrast for it to work!

Here's another example of soft and hard edged shadows within white petals.

Hellebores by Ann Mortimer

Incidentally the above painting will be appearing in the January Leisure Painter magazine as part of an article I have written about mixing darks and greens and painting white flowers.  Look out for it!

(Click on any of the photos to enlarge.)


  1. I love painting flowers but find shadows a nightmare to get just right. Many thanks, Ann for sharing this ... I'll have a go. :)

  2. i love the way the sunlight shines through the petals. lovely work ann as usual.

  3. This is so helpful, thank you! I always find shadows so hard to get right. I have been painting a white shell and was unsure about what colour to paint the shadows, I searched everywhere and couldn't find anything else about the colour of shadows on a white object.

    1. I'm glad to be of help Hannah. Thanks for leaving a comment...hope your shell painting goes well.

  4. hi, do you tutor landscape painting at all please..

    1. Sometimes, Steve, but at the moment I'm concentrating on flowers and plants.


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