First I paint in the background very lightly, to make sure I like the layout. I mix up a good red that I like, and then thin it with water for the light parts. The "light red" is not really going to look "pink" when I'm done because with watercolors you must start out with the lightest parts of the painting first, and darker and darker colors as you go along, leaving exposed the light parts where you want them. You'll see better as we go along. Don't worry Julie, these blossoms ARE going to be red NOT pink.
You can click on the photos to enlarge them and there's a small X in the upper right to click when you want to come back to this page.
Since I don't have a photographic memory, I rely on my reference photos. When I took the photo, I held my purse behind the flowers so they would stand out clearly. Never mind the colors in the photo. I just needed it for the shapes.
Next come the flowers in the foreground. They will be the main event in this painting. Because they are near, they will be distinct. The ones in the distance will be lighter, and less sharp.
The flowers are just painted simply at this point with no shading yet.
Darker red paint is added to the flower petals, to show their shape. I am careful to leave the lighter parts alone and put the darker red only where the shading would be. In the distant flowers, I add some blotchy darker red because I will want them to look like a bunch of reddish blossoms, not cotton candy.
Periodically, I step back from the painting, and make sure I like the composition, and colors.
At this point, it was nearing time to make dinner, and Gary needed to get up from his nap. (Today he was in the recliner, in the sunroom with me which I like.) When I'm done for the day, I prop up the painting and every time I pass by, I see things I want to do tomorrow. I keep a little paper near it, and jot things down to change or add. A little more red here, an additional branch there, add some flowers over here, etc.
I'm often asked how long it takes to create a painting. This is a hard question to answer because of all the in between "thinking/looking" I do.
I've rinsed out my brushes, and straightened up my desk, but I can't wait to get working again tomorrow. Have a good night all.