Iris No. 8 – On To Glory Reference Photo -Step 1

For the next few weeks, I’ll be posting the steps behind one of my newest watercolors, Iris No. 8 – On To Glory, 8×8,  from my All About Iris Series.

Because I use my digital images like a sketchbook, I thought it would be meaningful to show the progression of compositions leading up to On To Glory and share my thinking process along the way.

Here is the original composition. I’ve adjusted the brightness/contrast levels in photoshop. That brilliant blue background is just our asphalt driveway! It’s a decent photo of a yellow iris, but a little boring. Nothing you haven’t seen before. Let’s move in a little closer.

At this stage, I forget about the subject and just look at shapes. I’m not liking the blue shapes in the upper right and lower right. The size of the lower right blue shape is competing with and is too similar to the upper middle yellow shape. The composition feels broken-up and there’s no dominance. Let’s get rid of that whole right side.

Bingo! I love it. A variety of interesting shapes. Yellow dominance with secondary blue contrast and the unexpected magenta accent isn’t lost anymore. Plus, a square format, which is off the beaten path appeals to me. In my opinion, this is a much more exciting composition than the original photo. Not just another pretty flower.

When using photos as references for

 paintings, a good quote to remember is:

Less Is More. 


–Albert Einstein

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