liz digs life

Watercolor Trillium

I have always loved walking in the woods in the spring looking for Trillium. I have many memories of walking up and down the east facing slopes of our land along the stream searching for these little symbols of spring. The excitement of coming across a patch is something I never grew out of.

I still like to walk the woods in the spring and look for all sorts of plants coming back to life. First the Trout Lilies, then the Trillium and later on the May Apples…. There is something special about that time of year, when you have had enough winter and the smell of freshly thawing earth lifts your spirit.

Trilliums (Trillium grandiflorum) are usually white and feature three leaves and three petals. There are a few other species you sometimes find, one red (Trillium erectum) and one white with a pink center, called Painted Trillium (Trillium undulatum). By far the white are the most common in our part of New York.

Since we are in the long, cold stretch of winter where things feel pretty frozen, I decided to paint a little trillium scene.

it all starts with a sketch…

As usual, it all starts with a sketch. A simple line drawing to define the flowers, leaves and stones behind the clump.

first wash of color

Here is the first wash of color on the forest floor, stones and leaves of the Trillium. When you have an area in a watercolor that is going to be left white you have to be very careful not to get paint or water into those areas.

adding some shading and texture

Next I added some shadows under and behind the Trillium and start adding some definition to the stones. The painting is really quite nice as is here and could be left as is. But I decided I wanted the flowers to pop out of the painting a little more so I decided to darken things up.

all finished

Here is the finished painting. I really like how this one came together. Trillium are such a simple flower and I feel like I captured that. Their beauty lies in their simplicity.


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