Wednesday 1 April 2015

Dendrobium spectabile: Limited Palette and Magic Eraser Sponge


Learning from my failures when painting Phalaenopsis cornu-cervi and how important to effectively pick and mix paints, I decided to do my Dendrobium spectabile with as few pigments as possible. I used only 3+1 paints, W&N Perylene Maroon (PM), Indanthrene Blue (IB), and Daniel Smith Hansa Yellow Light (HYL) and, for some area, Permanent Rose.

I am pleased that these four are all single-pigment paints and two of them (PM and IB) have a great range of colour-mix, from which I could get all colours I need to paint the orchid. They covered the "white" lip/labellum, greenish yellow sepals and petals, to the very dark burgundy pattern on the lip.

Beside having significant amount of clarity of colours when finished, I found painting with fewest possible pigments eased my mind. I worked with wet in wet washes a lot, which allowed me to let the paint flow and mingle with each other. These limited palette really helped me avoid muddy colours, which could easily result from inadvertent clashes of pigments. In addition, the limited pallete brought about harmony to the whole painting.


Magic eraser sponge can completely remove unwanted marks from the paper but I avoided using it due to its abrasive nature. However, I made a mistake, which couldn't be erased using eradicator brush. Hence, I used my eraser sponge this time, but with care. 

My tips of using magic eraser sponge:
1. Make sure the colouring is final. Once rubbed with the sponge, the paper surface impacted is somewhat damage and difficult to paint.
2. Use masking tape to protect the other area for precise result. Make sure all paint and paper is completely dried.
3. I cut the sponge into a small square because I prefer to use pointy corners to rub tiny areas.
4. Dampen the sponge and rub it gently until the unwanted mark completely removed. Wash and rinse the sponge regularly.
5. Remove the masking tape when the paper completely is dried
6. If you need to tidy the edge, apply only dry brush, as dry as possible.


The orchids are native to Papua island (Indonesia and PNG). The blossoms have an alien look, but I fell in love with it since our first encounter at a local orchids nursery in Yogyakarta back in 2013. Their extremely twisted sepals, petals and curling lip made them look as if they danced and their intricate patterns were the very first reason I had a crush on them.

By mid of this month, I visited the same nursery and I was happy to find it bloomed, reminded me of my long desire to paint it. So here is my latest painting, Dendrobium spectabile, The Dancer!