Painting Roses and Delphiniums

29 May 2009

In the Watercolor Fundamentals article in the Spring 2009 issue of Watercolor, I explained how to set up and paint a basic floral still life. This time I will demonstrate a more involved arrangement of roses and delphiniums. As I’ve suggested here, you might want to practice drawing and painting the shapes of the flowers first, because the forms are more complicated. Doing this will help you paint with more confidence, and you will be better able to capture the effects of light and shadow that will bring your setup to life on the paper.

Exercise: Practice Painting Roses


Photographs of two roses.

 

Begin the exercise by painting the whole shape of these roses without adding details.
In my demo, the small white-tinted shapes usually designate the edges of a petal.
Both shapes were painted at the same time—moving from the rose shape to the leaves.
Note the variety of the outside edge shapes. Most important, remember that you do
not need to paint every petal!

 

Graphic rose
1. Begin by sketching the rose petals.
2. When you are satisfied with your sketch, transfer it to the watercolor paper.
3. Paint a base color. Allow the paint to dry.
4. Load a round brush with a darker color than the rose. Starting at one of the
inside edges, paint along its curve, immediately switch to your flat brush, and
pull the paint away from this edge toward the outside of the petal shape.
This suggests how the form of the petal turns.

 

The Finished Exercise

 

Exercise: Painting Delphiniums

The sinuous, multiflowered branches of the delphinium can be somewhat befuddling to
paint. For this reason, take your time drawing and simplifying these shapes on your
paper. Resist the temptation to paint everything you see. Begin at the top with violets,
blues, and greens, changing colors as you move from the small, delicate buds to the
larger shapes, finishing with the stem.

 

Demonstration:  Roses and Delphiniums

Reference
In designing this setup I made the roses the focal point and the delphinium and foliage
less important. Overlapping these shapes helps to create the feeling of dimension. I also
decided to use the white of the paper as a background and not add a container. Last, this
arrangement was designed to be a vignette, meaning the subject matter does not touch
any of the edges of the paper and has a balanced middle placement.

 

Step 1
I lightly sketched the placement of the various subjects.
The two roses were painted before the delphiniums.

 


Step 2
Next, I went back into the rosebud and added too much detail. To correct this problem,
I washed out a good part of this detail using a slightly wet natural sponge.
I then considered the painting at a distance.

 

Step 3
I added negative shapes to a few of the delphinium buds, as well as a third rose.
I started defining the rose petals (using the size 10 round brush) with paint that was
slightly darker than the base color. Then I came in with the flat brush (not too wet) to
move the paint to the edge, creating the rich and subtle colors and values in the rose.
I considered the addition of foliage under the single rose, so I laid some natural foliage
on the spot to see how it would look. I decided to include it and other pieces as well.

 

Step 4
At this stage I worked out the design of the stems on tracing paper.
To transfer the drawing, I taped the tracing paper directly on a window, then taped
my painting over the tracing paper using matte-finish Magic Tape.
I lightly traced the image onto the watercolor paper.

 

Step 5
I painted the stems using a variety of shapes and soft greens.

 

The Completed Demonstration:
Roses and Delphiniums
2009, watercolor, 20 1/2 x 16.


Related Posts
+ Add a comment

Comments

joanna burch wrote
on 29 May 2009 9:49 AM

Nice demo...roses are very hard to paint ....great in enjoyed that.....

on 12 Jun 2009 7:53 AM

Pingback from  Twitted by nothinglikeit

on 8 Sep 2011 10:42 AM

The Table of Contents for the Summer 2009 issue of Watercolor magazine.