American lotus (Nelumbo lutea) [part 2]

American lotus – finished


I began this painting last month and was not ready to call it finished.

My theme for this month has been wisdom which, as I’ve studied it in Buddhism, seems nicely symbolized by lotus flower. Though rooted in the mud, the blossom stands pure above the water. Once we see clearly the truth of interdependence, and drop beyond ego, we arrive at wisdom.

Here’s the reference photo.


I wanted to add detail to the blossom and darken the water around it so the blossom would stand out.

At first, I added purple to the petals, thinking that since violet is opposite yellow on the color wheel, it would make an appropriate shadow. That seemed a little bright, so I painted green on top of it. The pistil in the center of the flower is unusual. I colored it orange and used purple to add dimension.

I darkened the background by repainting blues, purples, and greens.


  • watercolor can be “overworked,” when layers of paint a obscure the transparency of the medium and turn it muddy. I think this painting is overworked.
  • Adding some complexity and layering enhances a painting. Too much deadens it.
  • I thought a lot about this painting, envisioning next steps in my mind. No matter what I planned, when I picked up the brush, my plans escaped me.
  • While I like the colors and intensity of the background, the foreground is confusing. I wish I had been able to render the petals more convincingly.
  • I realize I entered this year forgetting to review my goals from last year. I find myself yearning for simplicity and the joy of creating beauty.
  • I just reviewed and updated my goals.

this year I would like to

  • Rediscover the FUN of painting.
  • Rediscover the AWE of watching beauty emerge.
  • Escape the composition inherited from photographers of reference images.
  • Emphasize what attracts me to the image.
  • Get better at portraying depth/volume.
  • Not overwork the paint.
  • Take advantage of watercolors blending properties.
  • Use brilliant colors.

Posted on

March 30, 2022

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