How To Plant 100 Tulips in 30 minutes
How to Do a Tulip Landscape in Watercolor
Acres of tulips in bloom have traditionally represented spring in the Netherlands. The various brilliant colors of the flower surrounded by fresh green leaves provide a feast for the eye. This project comes from the concept of showing spatial depth and distance by having objects that are far away appear smaller and slightly out of focus. This “fool-the-eye” field of tulips is three separate strips of tulips, layered on top of each other and secured with double-sided foam squares.
Setting Up and Painting
Establish the format of the painting.Hold a 9 X 12 inch piece of 140 lb. watercolor paper in the landscape (horizontal) orientation. Draw a light pencil line one-third of the way from the top. Draw three rows of tiny sized tulips above, on, and below the pencil line. These tulips will represent the ones that are farthest away, the ones you have to squint to see in real life. They are located in the far, distant background. Draw them accordingly, having some connected, merging and fuzzy. Keep the paint thin and colors weak.
Paint these rows of small tulips above and below the pencil line.Use watercolors that are very diluted to indicate that the tulips are in the far distance.Keep them small and keep the paint very pale. Blur some of the tulip flowers and leaves together.
Paint the sky.It can be done with a normal strength of color. Any shade of blue is good or you can mix two or more blues for interest. Ironically, the sky doesn’t follow the rules of perspective, so make it as dramatic and bright as you please.If clouds are desired, there are a few ways to do them, but practice first on a scrap of watercolor paper. Paint the sky having it touch the tulips. It can lighten slightly as it reaches the horizon line, if you wish it to. Set this sheet aside to dry thoroughly.
Create the foreground and middle ground two strips of tulips from another sheet of paper.Hold the paper in the landscape format. Draw lightly, in pencil, two lines dividing the paper into thirds.
Sketch, paint and cut out the tulip strip that will be in the foreground.Use the bottom third of the new paper. They are the ones that appear closest to the viewer. Lightly sketch these flowers, making them large and giving them a lot of detail. Take care to make the top edge of these tulips ragged and of varying heights. Paint the tulips with brilliant colors; red, pink, orange, purple, yellow and white. Use two or three bright greens for the leaves and stems.
- Allow this to dry and carefully cut along the top edge in one continuous cut. Take special care to give the top edge, representing the tops of the tulips, a lot of interesting spikes and dips as you cut. Set the strip aside.
Make the strip representing the middle rows of tulips from the remaining paper.Flip it upside down so that the cut edge is along the top. Use this edge as the tops of the tulips and in pencil sketch that row. Work downward making another row or two of tulips. Paint these tulips in an array of colors---not quite as bright and clear as the previous ones in the foreground, but not as pale and washed out as the final row. Allow it to dry.
Putting it Together
Assemble your painting.Use double-sided foam tape and attach the middle ground of tulips to the background. Repeat with the foreground or row of tulips closest to the viewer. Use double sided tape and attach it at the bottom of the painting.
Step back and study your work.You’ll notice that it not only shows distance by the way it is drawn and painted, but also because the three sections are attached slight off-set from each other by actual distance created by the foam tape .
Add some life to the piece if you wish.Paint and cut out small birds, rabbits, a fox, a squirrel, etc. Attach the birds with foam tape to the sky and partially hide the four-legged creatures within the flowers.
- To give the foreground flowers extra oomph, you might work back in with colored markers, adding shadows and minute details.
- Try this art idea with other flowers. Virtually any flower will work if you think through what would look best. Take into account taller flowers and how you want to have them placed in the overall scheme of the painting.
- As you travel about, take note of how the actual landscape looks. See if you can determine the three designations of distance; foreground, middle ground, and background. Train your eye to see this and you will become a more discerning viewer. Your artistic skills will grow by teaching yourself to see such things.
Video: Tulip Planting Tips and Techniques
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