Sunday, 22 May 2016

Narrow Boat Painting on Flower Boxes Part 2

For part one of this project, please click here.

It’s been a while since I’ve managed to spend enough time in the studio to get on with this project and I got the impression that my hubby was starting to champ at the bit somewhat, wondering if I’d ever finish them! So yesterday, taking an advantage of a window of feeling better after our busy day on Thursday at the County Show (I am feeling wiped out again today) I decided to get going and complete the job.

40 Three Completed Boxes

I took lots of photos to show step by step how this painting technique is done. It looks complicated, but like with Zentangle, if you take it step by step, the design builds up with very little difficulty.

As a reminder, here are the boxes as my hubby gave them to me – he’d already painted them red on the outside and orange on the inside. I painted a layer of clear gesso onto the front of each one in preparation for painting.

01 3 Flower Boxes Ready for Painting

My hubby got the little silk plants from Ebay.

This was the practice sheet I worked on. Yesterday I felt I had done enough practising and it was time to bite the bullet and paint the Real Thing!

11 Practice Sheet

I began by mapping out the placing of the main flowers using a white pastel crayon, and then painted on the base layer of the leaves. I forgot the two leaves at top centre on the large box, but remedied this later. I used acrylic paints throughout.

12 Large - Leaf Bases

13 Small - Leaf Bases

The next step was to add the leaf veins. I did this first with a lighter green and then emphasised them with some yellow.

Unfortunately this picture of the large box is a bit out of focus but you get the idea.

14 Large - Leaf Veins

15 Small - Leaf Veins

Then I painted the bases of the flowers, using red and yellow acrylic paint mixed to form orange.

16 Large - Flower Bases

17 Small - Flower Bases

The next step is to add the shadows to the flower bases. I used brown for this. At this stage you determine which direction the flowers will be facing. A smaller circle is painted towards the side of the large circle, facing in the direction you want the flower to face, and then add a crescent-shaped stroke on the opposite side. If you want the flower to be facing head on, you just do the smaller circle in the middle, and add two smaller crescents. However, to have them facing in a particular direction gives more dimension to the piece.

18 Large - Flower Shadows

19 Small - Flower Shadows

I did the leaves first so that the finished flowers would overlap them, which makes it a lot easier to paint.

Now it was time to start adding the petals. I did all the large petals first, to show the progress of the design step-by-step. I used chrome yellow acrylic paint, which had proved too transparent on my practice sheet, so on the suggestion of Diana of Velvet Moth Studio (whose work I greatly admire – hop over and be impressed!) I added some titanium white to make it more opaque. I had thought it might make the colour too light, and on my practice sheet I added some more yellow on top, but in this case it looked fine so I left it.

The first stroke, forming the large petal, is painted between the small circle and crescent of the shadow.

20 Large - First Petal

21 Small - First Petal

At this stage you can already see the direction the flowers will be facing.

The second petal is painted opposite to the first, by making a smaller brush stroke.

22 Large - Second Petal

23 Small - Second Petal

To complete the flowers, further petals are added. These are longer and narrower, tapering off to as fine a point as possible, and alternating.

24 Large - Completed Petals

25 Small - Completed Petals

These narrower petals form the base of each rose, and in the above pictures you can see that the roses follow the direction of the curve over the arch of the large box, and point outwards from the centre of the motif on the small boxes.

To add a bit of contrast, I painted some daisies. To begin the daisies, you need to paint a small round spot of colour – I used orange. You can see that I have placed them below the roses on the large box, and in the centre of the motifs on the small boxes, with additional daisies to fill the corners of the arch.

26 Large - Top Daisy Bases

28 Small - Top Daisy Bases

I also painted a row of daisies along the bottom panel of each box.

27 Large - Bottom Daisy Bases

29 Small - Bottom Daisy Bases

The next step in the daisy painting is to paint a circle around each spot, using blue paint.

30 Large - Top Daisy Circles

32 Small - Top Daisy Circles

31 Large - Bottom Daisy Circles

33 Small - Bottom Daisy Circles

Now it was time to finish the daisies by adding the petals, using titanium white acrylic paint.

To start, you paint petals at the four “compass points” and then fill in the gaps. This helps space them evenly. Each petal is created by a single brush stroke, starting at the outside and tailing off to a fine point at the centre, overlapping the blue circle. To keep the size consistent, I drew a circle with the white pastel pencil first, and began each brush stroke from this line.

I’m afraid I got a bit carried away at this point and forgot to photograph this step by step, and by the time I remembered, the boxes were complete!

Here is the large box.

34 Large - Completed

35 Large - Completed Top

You can see that I have also added some more small circular spots in white, to embellish the design. I have also added a highlight in white on the rose petals to make them stand out more.

Along the bottom panel, the daisies didn’t look quite right, so I added leaves vertically in between, with a horizontal leaf at each end. It was at this point that I completed the leaves I’d omitted from the top panel of the large box.

36 Large - Completed Bottom

Here are the pictures of the completed small boxes.

37 Small - Completed

38 Small - Completed Top

39 Small - Completed Bottom

To remove the white pastel guide lines, I used a moistened cotton bud (Q-tip).

Finally, here are the three completed boxes, with their little pots of flowers.

40 Three Completed Boxes

All that needs to be done now is to finish the panels with a few coats of clear varnish to protect them, and they will be ready to hang on the summerhouse. Watch this space for more garden photos, when you will see the boxes in their new home.

When my hubby came home and I’d finished them, I invited him in, told him to shut his eyes, and I guided him over, and when he opened his eyes he was sooo delighted! He said they were much better than he’d expected! He said he thought I might paint a single flower on each one, and he wasn’t expecting this level of complexity. To see his face and hear his reaction was reward enough!


  1. These look marvellous, Shoshi, especially with the little flower pots in place! Good that hubby is so appreciative of your efforts! They will look wonderful in your garden. The process shots are great for showing the individual stages.

  2. Zowie!These turned out to be gorgeous works of hubby is delighted!Can
    t wait to see them insitu. Happy creating.Bet you're thinking of more projects to paint...or not??

  3. Beautiful! You did Narrow Boat Painting as if you were born to it. I am serious. They are really beautiful. I love the design, color combinations. They are just traditional bohemian and absolutely beautiful. I love the little plants inside them too.

    1. Thank you Aiyana - so glad you like it! Interesting you mention Bohemian - this style came from gypsy influence via Hungary and features the traditional Hungarian matyo rose. I adore this style!


  4. What an amazing job you've done here, you should be very proud of yourself. I bet that was a lovely surprise for your Hubby :) X

  5. Wow, these are stunning - what a gorgeous addition to your summer house - I'm looking forward to seeing them in situ. I can't believe how easy you make it look and how magical it is - they don't really look very flower like until you add the narrow, longer petals and then they really come to life - amazing! I love the little pot plants too, they look perfect in them. So clever and so strikingly lovely.
    Diana x

  6. Great boxes. Happy Anniversary to you and your hubs. and happy birthday to him. Happy belated WOYWW Anniversary! Hope you have a great and crafty week. LisaDV #44


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