Another Go at Matilija Poppy

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20"x20" Stretched Canvas

Oil paint: Titanium White, Sap Green, Viridian, Cadmium Red light, Cobalt Blue, Burnt Umber, Mars Black, Cadmium Yellow Medium, Cadmium Yellow light, Burnt sienna. In terms of brands, I use and like Winsor & Newton.

Acrylic Paint: Titanium White, Sap Green, Viridian, Primary Red, Cadmium Yellow Medium Hue, Primary Yellow, Cobalt Blue Hue, Ivory Black. Blick Studio

Synthetic Brushes: Filbert 2, 4, 6; Round 2; Bright 2,4, 6 the Princeton SNAP series.

Drawing on canvas: pencil or charcoal stick, fixative 

See all my art supplies

Reference Photo

I worked off a reference image. Took this picture during a work break while walking around bushes of matilija poppies.

I worked with a grid to get the general proportions right. I wish I took a photo of this step. Its generally drawing a grid on the canvas and the same grid on the photo and using this to guide you. You can draw the grid with a pencil or charcoal stick. If you use a charcoal stick, get some fixative too to prevent your charcoal from brushing off.  

Cover the canvas

Quickly block everything in. I think it was this painting, where I first used acrylic as a base to block everything in. I think I heard about this from another artist on instagram. 

Some benefits of using acrylic to block everything in:

I tend to work in layers with each layer getting a bit more detailed than the last (i.e. painting of a friend). 

Note: You can still vaguely see the grid I used beneath the acrylic.

Capturing the Petals

The folds. Definitely an exercise of capturing shadows and highlights and thinking about how all the individual folds create shape and texture at different texture. 

Reflection of the yellow orb. The yellow orb reflects off the petals. This is lightly captured in the petals in multiple places. In hindsight, I could have pushed harder here, but at the same time like the cooler colors I do have. 

Colors. I love a bluish-grey. Made with burnt umber and cobalt blue. 

Capturing the Center

Beginning to capture the center here. A bit of switching gears here after working with 100 shades of gray. Also figuring out how to abstract it to capture it and how that fit in with all o f the petals. 


Really tried to get something moody and dark enough to really help the petals pop. Tried to do something abstract, but still based in the matilija bush. Again this lack of focus on the background, was meant to draw more attention to the detailed flower. 

Final Version

Very happy with the result. Final audit, pushing lights and darks here and there. Getting crisp edges, smoothening some transitions.  Finally adding a coat of glossy varnish, which seems to make everything pop. 

If you want to start your painting journey, I've put together a list of all my go to supplies to get you started.