Painting Demonstration

by Mary Backer, NWS

Country Charmers began as a watercolor painting and finished as an acrylic over watercolor.

While working with the two mediums, I like to think of the watercolor as an "under-painting". This progresses using watercolor until a point is reached where I feel that the addition of acrylic would enhance and intensify the brillance of the work. At this stage, the watercolor "under-painting" is sprayed with one or two coats of Matte Medium, and then I proceed to paint using the acrylic pigment.

Come tip toe through the garden with me ... it is my hope you will enjoy the experience!

first demo


My paintings begin with light tints of local color to establish the underlying tone of each plant. The paper remains flat and un-stretched while I paint. The paper that I use most often is Arches 300 lb. Rough.

second demo

Stage One

The first tint of color is yellow. Yellow will be washed over all areas that are to be yellow, green or orange. Red is next and blue is washed over the background. My goal at this stage is to cover the entire sheet with a tint of color, leaving only the white paper where the object is to remain white.

third demo

Stage Two

The yellows are deepened. The green mix for the leaves is Gamboge, Viridian and Cerulean.

fourth demo

Stage Three

Layers of color are added to the flowers. Leaves are deepened with a mix of Cadmium Yellow, Winsor Green and Ultramarine Blue.

fifth demo

Stage Four

Shadows are painted on the yellow flowers with Sap Green and Quinacridone Rose; the white ones with Cerulean and Cadmium Orange; the reds with Antwerp Blue and the pinks with Cerulean Blue. At this point I spray the painting with one coat of Acrylic Matte Medium to seal the watercolor so I can apply the acrylic.

sixth demo

Stage Five

The Reds are intensified with Quinacridone Red; the pinks with Permanent Red. Leaves are a mix of Cadmium Yellow, Winsor Green and Phthalo Blue. A mix of Cobalt Violet, Cerulean Blue and Ultramarine Blue is brushed over the background.

seventh demo

Stage Six

To finish the painting, the same palette of colors with the addition of Soft Acrylic Matte Medium is applied. The thickness or thinness of the pigment is varied, and glazes are applied over the yellow to increase intensity. The brown centers of the sunflowers are a mix of Cadmium Scarlet and Winsor Green.

eighth demo

Country Charmers
29" x 41" watercolor & acrylic painting

Stage Seven

To finish the leaves Jenkins Green is added to the darkest areas. Cadmium Yellow, Cadmium Red and Winsor Green for the sunflower centers. The butterfly was gessoed out and repainted. The background was reinforced with a deeper mix at the top (ultramarine, phthalo and cerulean blues), blended with Winsor Green and Phthalo blue as the paint was brought down. Some of the leaves in the background were glazed over with this mix to make them blend.

The painting is completed. To me this is the point where I cannot find another spot on the work to place a brushful of paint. The back of the sheet is sprayed with water and then is weighted down and allowed to dry. When dry, the work is sprayed with 3-5 coats of Acrylic Matte Medium. This steps serves to "blend" the watercolor and acrylic. It is difficult for the viewer to distinguish between where the watercolor ends and the acrylic process begins.

Combined, I find the watercolor/acrylic to be the perfect blend for creating large-scale florals.

open quote I strive to give the viewer a heightened awareness.