Hops, in all directions

Every summer a hops plant takes over an arch in my garden, sending out shoots so rapidly in spring that you can almost see it growing. This week I painted it twice. On my first try I definitely wasn’t in the “zone”. My brush was too dry and the darks ended up dead and muddy. Plus, what I wanted to convey — the twisty tendrils and acid green leaves taking over the arch — did not come across well. I set it aside and the next day tried again.


On my second try I thought through the process a little more, and this time started with an underpainting of pale Azo Yellow over most of everything. When that was dry I mixed up some Prussian Blue and Burnt Sienna for the darks, but this time made sure my brush was really wet before I painted around the lights. With a rigger brush dipped into a tube of Holbein Leaf Green, I swirled in those crazy tendrils. By the time I was done the hops had grown another foot or so in all directions. HopsTwo



12 Comments on “Hops, in all directions”

  1. Thanks for showing that even we need practice runs sometimes. There’s ALWAYS a better way to do something. Do your hops bloom? Do you need a male/female close by in order for it to bloom (or produce those hops)? Do you make beer?!


    • Hi Helen, So nice to hear from you. Yes, there is always a better way to do something!! That’s what makes watercolour so wonderful.
      My hops do bloom, and I don’t think you need a male/female combo. I have a yellow version on the right and a darker green strain on the left. And yes, there are hops on the plant at the end of summer. I don’t make beer but have offered them to beer making friends although no one took me up on my offer.


  2. Betsy Angene says:

    Wonderful. Thanks for the color explanations.


  3. Nel says:

    I really like both of them. In fact, I think I like the first one better, for that wonderful Springy green in the hops. They are both terrific, Shari. I’m so glad I found you thru Craftsy, I’ve so enjoyed getting your posts.


  4. -N- says:

    Hops are amazing plants – I’m surprised they haven’t taken over the yard as they propagate through their underground rhizomes. That aside, I agree with your assessment of the first painting, and the second one does catch the crazy vineyness of the hops. The pink flowers under the arch are an added bit of sparkle. Nicely done. As well, it is good to see an artist’s failures alongside the successes.


  5. let there be light! it works!


  6. Wonderful Shari, one can almost feel those tendrils reaching out for you as you painted.
    Just love your work and the great explanations of how you attain each sketch.


  7. Alison says:

    Gotta love those hops. I’m glad to see the plNt has survived all these years. You really captured their vitality.


  8. Bernadette says:

    Lovely! I appreciate your detailed description of your process and the colors used. For some reason I hesitate to use darks that are dark enough. I see how light shines because of the planning of darks. Now, I hope to put it into practice in my own washes. Thanks for sharing.


  9. Christine Michels says:

    I just discovered you through Liron Yanconsky’s YouTube review of his favorite of your works. I am inspired again after getting discouraged.
    After seeing your post on painting the Hops vine, I have an idea now on how to approach the big weeping willow I see across the pond. Thanks!


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