Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Susan Brubaker Knapp here. I took a photo of a Stargazer lily in a neighbor’s yard several years ago, and have been meaning to make some art based on it. When the flowers theme was announced this month, I decided that its time had come. Here is the photo: 


These flowers have the most heavenly smell, and their colors are amazing. And you have to love a flower with freckles! I started with a simple line drawing, done first in pencil, and then inked:

I water-colored it, trying hard to use a range of dark and light values and leave some white. That last part is always hard for me. I tend to want to fill it all in, but the little bits of white add such sparkle.

Once I got to this point, I went back in and added more lines and speckles with black ink to get this image:

Then I started wondering if I should do something in the background. Was the white too stark? Maybe I should do some simple black ink cross-hatching? When I scanned in the drawing, I decided to try changing the white background to black, which is easily done in a PhotoShop. Here’s how it looks with a black background. Pretty dramatic! Which do you like better, and why?


  1. I like the black background, because of the contrast, but maybe it's too stark of a contrast. What about texturizing the black background in Photoshop so it's not a flat black? Either way, they're both beautiful renditions of one of my favorite flowers/

  2. I did a stargazer this month too, but mine is a bit overworked. I love yours. So fresh and pretty. (I don't agree with you on the smell though. one of my least favorites.) I normally love a black background, but this too me seems a bit stark. Perhaps a deep gray/ black mottled for texture.

  3. Beautiful lily! I think I prefer the white background. This time of year I'm craving light!

  4. I think I should try a black texture, too. It is nice to be able to do it in Photoshop... that way, if I don't like it, it isn't permanent on the actual drawing.

  5. Hi Susan,

    I oftenl ike black for contrast, but would like to see a texture to it something like leaves or dappled sunlight.

    I'd like to see it with a cerelean blue backgound to mimic the clear blue of a Spring day.

    I also love Stargazer Lilies, they were a favourite of my father's and today was his birthday.

    Thanks for the lovely inspiratinal sketch.

  6. It's really beautiful, and I like it better with the white background, but I don't really know why, perhaps because the white keeps the entire piece more delicate.

  7. I like both, I think it depends on what mood you are wanting to capture. The white is very light, crisp, clean and cheerful. The black is more moody and dramatic. Using them both would be very ying & yang.

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