Painting a marigold in yellows and oranges

This marigold has a lot of yellow and orange, trying to create depth and shadow can be a challenge with yellow. Having the darker sections in orange helps give more depth but the key is adding in magenta. Head over to my patreon page to pick up a copy of the line art, and a link to the reference photo I used.

Watch the time lapse or skip down for more.


I blocked in the majority of my initial shadows with a warm gray. I went light because I knew I could always go darker. This light underpainting gives me an idea of form and from there I am able to add the yellow and orange gradient over top the gray. After my first few layers of color, I can see that the shadows are definitely not dark enough. From there I can add in more of the darker warm gray to deepen the shadows and build my contrast.

Building a gradient

I had to use quite a number of yellows, oranges and even a few reds to build the smooth gradient up the petal. I went around the water droplets, preferring to deal with those later rather than trying to remember where they were after the fact. I gave the whole petal a light coat of my lightest yellow and worked through the colors starting higher and higher on the petal. After I had finished adding in the colors, I touched up the bottom of the petal with the cadmium yellow lemon to give it a touch of green. I blended out and layered several more times but at that point I could see that the shadows were still not dark enough.


At this point it was time to pull out the red-violet and the magenta to create a depth to the shadows. I used both colors in most areas to create depth. The magenta works because it is almost the opposite in color to the oranges I was using. Desaturating and darkening any color can be achieved through the use of an opposing color on the color wheel. A little fiddling may be required to pick the right temperature of color. Warm colors seem to mix best with other warm colors, but sometimes a warm and cold color are what is needed. Playing around with the colors on a scrap piece of paper can help determine what look will work best.

The Center

The center of the marigold is worked up in a similar fashion but using mostly yellows. I blocked in the shadows with the warm grays allowing me to define the shape. This area was complicated by the fact that I didn’t go super detailed on my line art. I only needed close enough, and blocking in with the grays allowed me to fill in the missing line art sections. Once I had the shadows, I went over everything with a single yellow. I then went back and strengthened the shadows adding in red-violet and more values of yellow to create the depth and form. Each little rod is shaded along the bottom and one side to create the illusion of a rounded shape. The little petals are shaded along the bottom to give the illusion of them curling around. Magenta, red-violet, and warm grays came together with the yellow to finish the center.

What’s next?

You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Patreon. I’m currently working on a blackberry, head on over to Instagram to see some progress shots. Let me know in the comments if you followed along and how it turned out.

Equipment (amazon affiliate links):

Note: You can substitute almost any paint brush for the filbert, just make sure it doesn’t have stiff plastic bristles. Have at least one eraser of some type. Masking tape will work but stick it to your pants a couple times to reduce the tackiness so it doesn’t rip your paper. Paper is rather important, try to go with something of quality, Canson Mi Tientes will work and in a pinch, Cachet 101 mixed media paper. You can buy a large sheet and cut it down to size. If you work on a block or pad, you may be able to skip the easel and art board.

Colors used:

  • *Buff Titanium 801
  • Cadmium Yellow Lemon 205
  • Cadmium Yellow 107
  • Dark Cadmium Yellow 108
  • Cadmium Orange 111
  • Orange Glaze 113
  • Dark Cadmium Orange 115
  • Light Cadmium Red 117
  • Deep Red 223
  • Dark Red 225
  • Magenta 133
  • Red Violet 194
  • Light Flesh 132
  • Warm Grey VI 275
  • Warm Grey III 272
    An asterisk indicates a luminance color.

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