When I started painting years ago one of the first things I did was paint through my wildflower field guide. I’d pick a page and paint in watercolor every flower on the page. Later, after my daughter and I discovered nature journaling we would head out on hikes with said field guide and paint the flowers we saw, making notes on where and when they were blooming in our journals. Asters had never really peaked my interest until one warm September day standing in the slightly chilly creek at beloved park that I noticed how beautiful and delicate they are, and how whatever butterflies were left after the scorching August heat seemed to love them too. I painted them for the first time that evening at home and feel even more in love.

After our move I found a little sprig of asters tucked away in one of my old nature journals. Most likely left over from that warm September afternoon, and my love for the little late bloomers was rekindled. It inspired my aster crown painting, and several other aster studies done in oils this time, not watercolor.

Here’s a little time lapse series I did adding a little gathering of asters into my sketchbook. If you are inspired to paint some please send me some pictures or tag me in your posts! My favorite messages are always from other creatives who’ve been inspired to paint along when I post videos!

I always start my sketches in Burnt Umber
Next I’ll lay in my darkest purple, a mix of alizarin crimson and French ultramarine blue. I always keep this mix on the cooler side, adding in more of the blue than red tones.
From here its just layers and layers of lighter color, being sure to leave plenty of the darkest value for depth, especially around the center. I just add a tiny bit of titanium white to my darker paint, and then with each layer I increase the amount of white I’m adding.
In this picture you can see that I am selective with my lightest value, making sure the “light” hitting the petals feels natural. Think of dappled light through trees shining down on the flowers. Next, a little burnt sienna right in the center.
Then I always finish the centers with a little Indian yellow and
titanium white mixture. Be careful to leave plenty of dark around the centers.

And now a line from one of my favorite poems about asters……

I end not far from my going forth By picking the faded blue Of the last remaining aster flower To carry again to you.

From the poem, A Late Walk, by Robert Frost

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