Trust me, I’m an Artist! (The Foxglove Fairy pat 2)

Back to the Foxglove Fairy from the previous post

Here is the blue underpainting finished. At this point the painting looks fine, and you will think I am ok at painting, but after this everything will go a bit strange for a while as I start to add the colour.

Trust me: I’m an artist…

Foxglove Fairy - work-in-progress 9
Blue underpainting

On go the first layers of colour. In fact you may not notice the very first colour I added, which was white, where the inside of the foxgloves flowers are spotty. Next I filled in the colours of the fairy.

Foxglove Fairy - work-in-progress 2
Colour on the fairy

…and the purple and greens of the foxgloves.

Foxglove Fairy - work-in-progress 11
Colour on the foxgloves

…the veins of the fairy’s wings I also painted in what would be white, but it is so hard to see what you are doing painting fine white lines on white paper, so they are in fact white paint with a hint of yellow:

Foxglove Fairy - work-in-progress 10
Colour on the veins of the Fairy’s wings

And the background, last…

Honestly, it will be fine: trust me, I’m an artist!

Foxglove Fairy - work-in-progress 5
Colour on the background

The whole painting is now at its most frightening:

Foxglove Fairy - work-in-progress 4
The painting before washing

And now (below), after it has been under the shower. Yes, right under the shower…. The only work I did between the photo above and the one below was to stick it in the bath and hose it down, and wash off all the loose paint with a soft brush. The paint is water-soluble – it is gouache (more-or-less like watercolour) and it washes off the paper again. BUT the trick is that some of the pigments leave a stain, and the thinnest of paint residue, on the paper.

And so this is how the technique works… with a bit of practice and experience in knowing which pigments work best, and a bit of educated guesswork, too, in trying to get close to the colour I want first time. And a bit of luck too.

Actually I’m particularly pleased with how this one turned out after its shower: there is usually more remedial work that I need to do to rescue stuff that has not turned out as I wanted, but this time I am quite happy with the colours more-or-less as they are. Hard to photograph, though, especially that greeny-yellow: once the painting is finished I will get it on the scanner and then do my best to match the colours to the real painting.

Foxglove Fairy - work-in-progress 8

The painting after washing

So, this is as far as I got yesterday. The painting is of course by no means finished, but it is getting there. Now it is mostly all about adding details and strengthening the shadows and bringing up the highlights.

Foxglove Fairy - work-in-progress 1
The Foxgloves are actually not quite this blue in the painting…

Here’s one more set of step-by-step photos to show you the foxglove flowers. In the middle of the white dots on foxgloves are smaller purple dots – these are going on later – the whole painting/washing off thing is to give me a colour to work on top of.

So… blue underpainting and white dots:

Foxglove Fairy - work-in-progress 3
Foxglove Fairy – work-in-progress


Foxglove Fairy - work-in-progress 12
Foxglove Fairy – work-in-progress

The background:

Foxglove Fairy - work-in-progress 6
Foxglove Fairy – work-in-progress

And the whole thing after washing:

Foxglove Fairy - work-in-progress 7
Foxglove Fairy – work-in-progress

Don’t ask me the name of this technique: I made it up. But I’m sure lots of other people have also made it up, and I imagine somebody also made up a name.

There will be a delay in finishing this as I have an exhibition this weekend. If anyone is in the Somerset Area I will be exhibiting paintings and prints and so on as part of our Spring Farm Arts group – see details here. Until next time, then, when I have a chance to to the details.


  1. Niall Young

    It’s a remarkable technique. I’ve only ever seen it used by you! The washing down stage must be so exciting not knowing what ‘s going to emerge…I think I’d find it a bit too risky! fabulous stuff as always Nancy! πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you Niall πŸ™‚ And yes, when I do the washing bit I always think I should wait till good daylight and someone nearby holding a camera, especially when it works out well… but it’s hardly ever the case that those things coincide – yet again I have missed the opportunity for a good action-shot!

  2. Mgon β™₯

    Just so wonderful, as always. I love all the little details – makes it fun, cute, and sweet. :o)

    1. Thank you Mgon!
      …crikey, that’s two people who said ‘sweet’, don’t usually get accused of sweet πŸ˜‰

      1. Mgon β™₯

        Your creations are a reflection of herself – so, you know, you’re bound to get “sweet” at least once πŸ˜‰ Call it a character flaw πŸ˜›

        1. LOL, but you’ve never met me, I might be evil πŸ˜‰ …I am, however, nice to tiny plants and kittens.

          1. Mgon β™₯

            Hah-hah! πŸ˜€

  3. Fantastic already with blue only! and the finished result is so beautiful!

    1. Thank you! I always like the blue stage, but of course the foxgloves do have to be ‘coloured in’

  4. […] « Previous / Next » By Nancy Farmer / May 27, 2013 / Commissions, Painting / Leave a comment […]

  5. […] And, finally, some of the actual foxglove flowers. For the step-by-step photos of the painting of these, have a look at the previous post about this painting:Β […]

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