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  • Writer's pictureNick Pike

Step-by-step guide on how to paint a crocus artwork in a series of time-lapses, from blank canvas to finished piece

As crocuses were beginning to bloom outside, I decided to create a large oil painting of a group of these small flowers. Whilst gradually becoming consumed with the new artwork, I decided to share the process into my art blog. I have collated all the time-lapses, showing my journey from blank canvas to finished artwork.

Starting this painting was quite overwhelming due to its intricacies. I assessed that the best way to go about it was to paint the earth behind the petals; it was a good way of identifying each individual flower. At this early stage I could already see the crocuses begin to shoot out.

I realised that most of the crocus stems lay behind grass blades and as I like to work from back to foreground, these stems should be painted next. This was the introduction of pale lilac to the palette.

Finishing off the undergrowth by adding the most intricate details. This also helped with bringing the crocuses out further.

I spent the whole of day four just painting grass blades! This meant that I could fully concentrate on the range of greens, blues and yellows involved. Finishing this gave the clearest outlines for where the crocuses would be painted.

I added tracing paper, stuck down with tiny pieces of white tack, on top of the earth and grass once it had somewhat dried, then cut around all the crocuses. This helped for the next stage; using a large paintbrush to add light variations of colour to the petals without being impeded by the ground below.

The method I used to build up this artwork is a good exercise in restraint - for a long time I was painting the petals using a mixture of just titanium white, cobalt blue and rose madder to create subtle colour variations.

Gradually, from very light to darker shades, I began to embody the petals with more lilac. The deeper the purple pigments became, the more a 3D effect was created on the flowers' white edges.


To make some of the flowers step back in the shade, I introduced buff titanium and cerulean blue into the palette. Many of the petals that protrude toward the viewer and appear small have a deep fuchsia colour - I concentrated on this today.

A honey bee; I wondered whether or not to add this. I didn't want the bee to be any kind of focal point. After I had painted it and my super analytical girlfriend took a sneaky peak at the painting, not noticing the bee, I was satisfied with this addition.

Having painted all the delicate areas, it was time to take the tracing paper off. I had become so used to this mask covering the painting, it was good to see the background stand out, yet still blend in with the crocuses. The painting was now ready for the flowering stalks.

Adding the stamens and stigmas to the crocuses, mainly using a mix of cadmium yellow, crimson red & titanium white. The painting is now nearing completion, just a touching up of tiny areas I may have missed.


'Life Unfolding'

Oil on box canvas (76 x 60cm)

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