I started to paint this tutorial a few weeks ago, back when my white lilacs were still in bloom.
It was such a treat to clip some for inspiration. But Life intervened and I couldn’t get the tutorial painted until this week.
There’s just something about white lilacs. They’re so lacy and light. I love purple lilacs too, which are in bloom right now, but I was really struck by the white ones this year and had to paint some.
But first I had a bookcase to stencil as part of being the Design Team at Mom it Forward. This bookcase was only my 3rd or 4th stenciling project – and the first on furniture. Each time I stencil I realize that I have a lot more I have to learn. A background for the white lilac painting seemed like the perfect ‘canvas’.
Stencil the Background
For a basecoat I slapped on some Fresh Foliage green with a little light grey mixed in for the background.
Note to Stencil Veterans: You might wanna avoid this entire stenciling part and just skip down to the lilac part. When I say I don’t know what I’m doing, I mean I don’t know what I’m doing.
Stencil Issue #1 – Every time I look at a stencil my eye makes the ‘bridges’ the pattern, not the empty space. Does that make sense?
Something that will just take some practice, I guess.
In my mind’s eye I was envisioning a predominantly greeny-grey background with a touch (a touch!) of light grey. Then I remembered the bookcase.
Hmmm. Maybe I’ll try adding some shading to the stencil. Yeah, that might work.
And maybe I’ll use a bristle brush instead of a foam pouncer! That might work.
And maybe I need a whole lotta practice with stencils too. Oh well.
At this point I’m not too happy with a touch of green and a bunch of grey. Definitely not the look I was going for.
Maybe a whitewash will tone it down a bit.
I have a bad, bad habit of holding a paintbrush in my mouth while working. I was just getting ready to snap a pic when the brush slipped from between my lips.
Surprisingly, the brush only hit the canvas and not the floor where I don’t use dropcloths in my studio. On a client job? Always, always, always have drops down and just pray the client doesn’t walk in as a paintbrush drops. Which one does, inevitably.
Still not thrilled with the background but I had spent more time on the background than it was gonna take me to paint the lilacs.
Moving on . . .
How To Paint White Lilacs
Paint two main stems with green or green/brown mixture. Then paint tiny stems off the main ones. To paint the unopened buds at the tips, load white and then green, without mixing.
If this is as clear as mud, don’t worry. I’ll be shooting a video tutorial soon.
With white paint only, make little “V’s” along the outside edges of each blossom.
For the inside blossoms I mixed white with green, just to add some fullness and dimension to the overall bloom.
Now, with white paint only, fill in the shape with “V’s” and “+’s”.
And finally, dot some green in the middle of some – not all – of the florets.
Painting Lilac Leaves
This is a way to paint a really quick green leaf. Pick up some medium green and then some darker green on your brush, without mixing the two colors together, and paint the oval shape.
Go quickly and don’t over-analyze how each individual leaf looks.
Now, with a liner or thin round brush, grab some more green and paint connecting stems to the main stem, and then carry it on to the leaf itself.
After you’ve painted all the connecting stems and leaf veins, stand back and take a look. You probably won’t need to paint more detail than that.
Simple white lilacs. And pretty quick too. Except for that background.
If you’re not comfortable with this method, hang on. I’ve got a tutorial for dipdot lilacs too.
So tell me, what have you stenciled? Do you have any tips to share? If you have a minute, drop by Mom it Forward to see my stenciled bookcase too.