Watercolors with Strelitzias

bird of paradise flower, strelitzia, watercolor and inks, debiriley.com

Wednesday Watercolors. Today I’m using brushes, pens with Inks, palette knife, acrylics and watercolors.  And working in two very different painting styles – one using a botanical style and the other, a loose free flowing abstraction of the flower forms.

watercolor Strelitzia with ink, debiriley.com
Watercolor and Ink Strelitzia

My silly Strelitzias on Saturday inspired a few photographs and doodles, and my efforts today for Wednesday’s Watercolors.

Strelitzia flowers are also known as the Bird of Paradise, a gorgeous tall bright orange petalled creation with sharp swords of french ultramarine that draw the eye. Even so,  with their stunning bright plumage, they’ve always been a Happy Orange flower!


Watercolor Paintings  Strelitzias

My botanical style watercolor painting was created on a lush watercolor paper,  Fabriano Soft Press.  It is 100% cotton rag and is wonderful for watercolor, ink, printing, pastels, drawing….  One of my personal favorite papers.

If you’re a watercolor beginner, and would like some information on papers, materials, just pop over to Watercolor Basic Tips and you’ll find some good basic tips and guidelines. Also, on this page I’m addressing frequently  asked and ‘Searched for’ questions you may find helpful!


Palette and Colors Used

The colors I’ve chosen to use for this flower were few.  Winsor Lemon. Permanent Rose.  Cobalt Blue, genuine.   French Ultramarine.

I painted quite sparingly. Using very few strokes and fairly pale.   So much so, that the image demanded that I get my ink pen out and “judiciously”  (ie  not outline)    accent areas here and there.

This helped the image radically!  Before it was a rather dull, plain jane.  With a bit of ‘lippy and blush’  she looks marvellous now.


You can see in the close up, how loose and free the pen was applied.  It takes practice, as at first, the inclination is to tightly follow the outline.  But, perhaps by trying the pen on a newspaper photo til you get the hang of it and loosen up,  will work for you.


Close up of the botanical approach of the strelitzia flower,  (Bird of Paradise.)

bird of paradise flower, strelitzia, watercolor and inks, debiriley.com
Close Up



Bird of Paradise  Strelitzia  Photos

Both of these  photos have a very sculptural feeling to them. The colors on the petals were nearly gone, the movement of the forms was what captured my interest here.   I saw this as being more of an abstraction of movement than of anything else.

Strelitzia photograph in zen sculptural pose, debiriley.com
Strelitzia Zen


photo of bird of paradise, strelitzia, for painting, debiriley.com
Macro Strelitzia



Bird of Paradise Flower – Strelitzia

As I mentioned, the two reference photos above really inspired a more abstract approach on my second go at painting.

My first wash was a light peach of watercolors, on Arches watercolor paper,  which I let dry.

After the  watercolor underwash was dry,  several Very thin acrylic glazes of naples yellow and white were applied.  Drying completely in between.

Prussian blue in a dilute form with a fraction of white on the palette knife followed those glazes.



The objective for me in this,  was to convey Movement in an abstract fashion.

Viewers might interpret the subject in many ways. There could be figures, nudes, birds, hills, etc.   Engagement, wonder, hints and mystery are always a good thing.

Bird of paradise,Strelitzia Abstraction, watercolor, acrylics, debiriley.com
Watercolor Underwash

I just like the colors and the abstraction of movement. To me,  they are happy and free,  cheerful.






Published by debiriley

The act of creation, in any media is a fascinating and magical process. I simply love to create. Expressing in color, line, tone, texture - as if, they were words upon a page. Creating a uniquely me, interpretation. Enjoy More of my "one-of-a-kind" expressive art at society6.com/debiriley and, redbubble.com/people/debijriley/shop

43 thoughts on “Watercolors with Strelitzias

  1. As always… love, and inspired by your willingness to let go … and let it be… with the simplest statement.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Two very different approaches with two different beautiful outcomes. One is softly clear and perfectly outlined but is still playful and bright. The other is like abstracts, open to discussion, interpretation, free flowing taking your eyes and mind into it’s dimensions. Beautiful artist you’re, you know how to convey, interpret and execute your subjects in the most sophisticated, wonderful artistic way!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Eva, it is my pleasure. I love ‘meeting’ lovely Art people like you and sharing thoughts and ideas! Thank you, and appreciation for your readership, thoughts and friendship too. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      1. I wouldn’t wear it but I think this flower needed even a little more intense orange. I know these flowers from Greece. They are so extraordinary in their design. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. thanks for this explanation, I didn’t know that. Don’t forget that English is not my mother tongue and some special expressions cannot be found in a dictionary. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      3. thank you. English was always my favorite language and I’m very ambitious (and have a good dictionary in my computer which runs simultaneously with wordpress). Isn’t it strange that I prefer to do “poems” in English and not in German? Always wanted to marry an Englishman, but didn’t succeed 😦 hehe

        Liked by 1 person

      4. the education system I grew up in… looking back at it, I think was very insular. We learned OUR history (biased) but skimmed other countries. Arriving in OZ, was an awakening.


      5. Do you mean the American education system? I know that they are not known for being very well informed about other countries. Saw some very funny films in youtube about it. Great that in Oz it’s better. Our educational system is quite good, but we wanted something very special and put our son into a Waldorf school, which is anthroposophic. Wish I had visited such a school.


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