The fourth illustration which will be shown during the Museums at Night 2016 event in Gdansk is the Estella Rijnveld parrot tulips.

Sketch and composition

I started with a sketch which was a real nightmare. I am completely devoid of creativity which may sound strange, but that is the truth. I always have a problem with the composition. Sometimes I spend the whole day thinking how to place items on the paper. This time I spent three days, yes, three days and I thought that eventually I would go mad and give in.

At the beginning I started with two tulips, but somehow this even number did not suit me. Three looked much better. When I finally decided where to put the flower cups, I began to think about the stems and leaves. And it started … I had a whole bouquet of tulips and put them from one place to another unable to determine the right composition. Finally resigned I put them down to take a break and that’s when they settled themselves decently. I manipulated the photo a little so that you can see the whole composition.


I started with applying shadows. I started with the shadows, because the tulips are white and red. Painting the shadows first on white parts would allow me to apply reds later (even on the shadows, because reds are much stronger and darker). I used two mixtures for the shadows. Usually, I use one of these mixtures for shadows, depending on the color of the flower that I paint. When the flower is white or yellow or has nother light color with a warm shade I use a mixture of Ultramarine Violet PV15 with some warm yellow. This combination gives a color that I can’t name but that works. It’s like a very light neutral brown. My second shadow color is the usual gray that I get from the combination of Ultramarine Blue PB29 and Burnt Sienna PR101. Depending on how cool the shadow is, I add more or less ultramarine. In these tulips I used both mixtures.


When the shadows were ready I moved on to the reds. I did a small test before, although I was sure I would use Winsor Red PR254 and Winsor Red Deep PR264. Winsor Red PR254 is a beautiful red, and Winsor Red Deep PR264 creates its shadow very nicely. I’ve used Winsor Red PR254 before and noticed that the best saturation of this color can be obtained by painting with layers (about 3-4 layers is enough). With each layer Winsor Red PR254 becomes more and more saturated (and more and more opaque), but only then this red is really red.

Painting board at an angle

Here you can see my little desk. As you can see my painting lies at an angle. Earlier, I didn’t do it because, firstly, my lack of imagination, and secondly, I thought that my arm would hurt me from holding the brush in such an uncomfortable position. I was so wrong! When I paint I always have my nose close to the paper and of course I slouch. But this is the past now. Painting at an angle helps to keep the spine in a comfortable position and the hand doesn’t get tired. Better late than never.

To put my painting board at an angle, I took felt self-adhesive pads, cut them in half and glued them to the desk. This way my painting boarn keeps its position and doesn’t slide down.

I put a shoe box under the painting board (I keep tube paints in it). And ready, a simple way if there is no easel. I could also put a a towel under the painting boar but I needed a bigger angle.

The third cup

The first shadows on the petals were ready. I had painted them in the previous stage. I used a mixture of either Ultramarine Blue PB29 and Burnt Sienna PR101 or Ultramarine Violet PV15 and warm yellow, depending on the area.

In the next step, I applied a light layer of Winsor Red PR254 to indicate where the reds would be on the petals.

Then I applied more layers of Winsor Red PR254 (about four). When they dried, I used Winsor Red Deep PR264 to apply darker reds. At this stage, I also deepened the shadows.

Finally, I added the stamens, pistil, edges of the petals and delicate stripes on the petals. In the next stage I would paint the leaves.


The leaves took me much less time than I expected. Unfortunately, I don’t have photos from the individual stages of painting, because I was so stressed that I completely forgot about the camera. Not a loss, though. I just applied a few layers of green paint.

I used two main mixtures: light and dark green. The light mixture was a mix of Winsor Green (Yellow Shade) PG36 with Quinacridone Gold PO49. The dark one wasa mix of the light one with addition of Ultramarine Blue PB29. Sometimes I also added Winsor Red Deep PR264 to neutralize the greens.

The final result: