As the frost thaws, the sun rises and the potential of each day increases, spring brings a sense of new possibilities unlike any other season. The idea of taking up a new hobby or even completing a marathon seems eminently more plausible when you’re suddenly no longer starved of daylight hours or sheltering from inclement weather.
That new hobby could well be watercolours – the awakening of spring flowers being the perfect muse for the paint’s soft style. It certainly is for Papier artist and modern watercolour maestro Emma Block. Her deft brushstrokes and blush colour palette create wonderfully fresh illustrations inspired by her travels around the world and garden wanders. All of which make for lovely notecards, notebooks and greeting cards – but her floral paintings of cherry blossoms, peonies and anemones make for particularly romantic wedding invitations. "I love cherry blossoms," Emma enthuses. "As soon as they're in bloom, I always make my husband go for a long walk in the park with me to see them all."
Emma first started using watercolour when she was very young before moving away from the form when she went to university, finding it too old-fashioned. It wasn’t long after graduating though, that she felt herself drawn back and developing a more modern style that captured something she couldn’t with other techniques. “There is something really magical about watercolours. The way the colour flows and blends across the page, there isn’t really anything else like it. They’re so versatile; with a tiny little box of paints you can mix hundreds of different colours. And they’re perfect for painting on location or taking on holiday.”
1. “Take time to observe the flowers and plants from life. Note the way that flowers and leaves don’t always point towards you but they bend and twist.”
2. “When painting an arrangement of flowers try to pick a limited colour palette. Pick three colours at most, using different shades and tones of those colours. Having too many different colours can be overwhelming.”
3. “Use the natural transparency of watercolours to mirror the translucent nature of overlapping petals or leaves. Paint one petal or leaf first, allow it
to dry completely, then paint another overlapping slightly. The overlapping area will be slightly darker.”
4. “The way that watercolours blend and flow is perfect for capturing the ombré effect of changing colours within flowers. Start by painting the lighter colour then add a drop of darker colour to it while it’s still wet.”
5. “Don’t be afraid of having the white space in between flowers and leaves; it keeps things looking fresh and stops things from looking overworked or heavy.”
If you'd like to learn to paint watercolour floral wreaths like Emma, book in for her Papier Atelier workshop on 10th May.
Emma's new book The Joy of Watercolor is available to pre-order now.