Here we are at the final stage of this Sally Holmes #watercolor rose study

We will concentrate on the differences in the #background. You will see I have two different examples of the background. One is lighter and more gentle. The other appears darker and cooler. 

Can you see the differences?

The first example is as the original #painting is: Fresh, light and gentle.

However there is a great #art lesson to point out to you here. If you want a more powerful study where the rose appears to be coming further forward in the painting – you simply juxtapose a darker background against the light blooms. Light always comes forward. Dark always recedes. This is how we create the magical push/pull where we can push an area back into the distance and at the same time – we can pull another area forward toward the viewer.

You can see this in action here. I have used Photoshop to enable me to demonstrate this wonderful tool to add to your repertoire of painting tools. Can you see in example two, how the background area – particularly around the side and lower portion of the painting – is now darker than in example one?

What difference do you think this makes to how close the background feels to the flowers and to you – the viewer?

By creating a darker background in the areas mentioned above, I have been able to give the impression that the rose blooms are advancing so much more forward toward the viewer. This makes the roses even more #three dimensional doesn’t it.

If greater three dimension is your goal  – then use this technique in your other paintings. It works no matter what subject matter you are painting.

In my original painting (example one)  I wanted to create a soft, gentle harmony. I chose to portray the blooms sitting more within the background. Can you see how example one gives the impression the background is much closer to the flowers?

Neither example one nor example two is necessarily wrong – they both create a different atmosphere. Youdecide how you wish to portray the main subject in your work. This is determined by how strong or gentle you want your painting to be.


Refining a Painting

The #fine tuning stage is the stage that I look at my painting to see if anything needs to adjusted. I look for these things:

  • Anything out of kilter with the rest of the painting (I integrate it by adjusting the color, light, shadow, color temperature, edges etc)
  • I create #harmony by simply adjusting the colors to be more similar.
  • I create diversity and a greater push/pull of subject and background in the areas that need it (as discussed above). I sometimes change colors to push areas back or pull areas forward. For instance I may want a leaf to go further into the background. I would use a bluish grey wash to do this. Other times I may wish a leaf to come further forward.
  • I may use a wash or two of Aureolin Yellow to achieve this. I sometimes lift color out to make an area lighter. You will remember light areas advance – dark areas #recede.
  • I love to soften edges at this stage too. A great thing to do is to gently lay in a clear water wash over each bloom. You can do this relatively safely if you have used my #Priming #Method or the #wet-in-wet method. I find it takes away most demarcation lines that sometimes surround individual petals. The petals become more integrated and undulating – as opposed to segmented – a little like a jigsaw puzzle can do.
  • How does it work? The clear water tends to lightly lift any residual color that may be sitting on the surface of the paper. It them resettles and brings a lovely, soft gentle look to the bloom.

There is much I could teach you of course but the written word is slow to write and very time consuming. I have been sitting in front of this computer for over 6 hours writing and posting this text and adjusting and uploading the images. And of course a blog post is not anywhere near as good as seeing these things in action. Nothing can replace that.


It is my pleasure to share these few insights however you may be interested to know that you can learn all there is to know about painting another study of this beautiful rose:

I have created Four 2xdisc #DVD sets and #downloads full of invaluable hints and tips. Some of the 2 disc DVD sets are focusing on floral studies. One focuses on portraits. One of these (the one with the red roses on the cover) features a magnificent cluster of Sally Holmes blooms in all her glory. There are other studies on this DVD/downnload set too. The fourth 2 disc set is an in-depth DVD set/download sharing how to mix luminous greens and create luscious leaves – as well as a bonus feature on the five #crucial #elements for a successful painting.

All of my DVDs and downloads are created for artists of all levels, each DVD has well over 3 hours of invaluable learning.

On my DVDs and downloads you get to see how I use my brush, how much water I use, how I build my translucent washes, create my yellow tonal map, create my gentle gradations and blends of color, color mixing, as well all the wonderful watercolor breakthroughs that have made such a difference to my painting career. You see how the petals begin as white paper and then emerge out of the paper and become tangible with the all-important fine tuning. Watch them come to life as if you could reach in and touch them. With my DVDs and downloads you can see and learn how this magic unfolds – all from the front seat – in your studio/home.

#Watercolor workshops are the best way to learn of course as you get immediate feedback with me right there by your side. A close second are my DVDs and downloads.

Visit Us
Follow Me

Subscribe To Susan's Newsletters

Join my email list to receive the latest news and updates on upcoming exhibitions, workshops, DVD/download releases, promotions, art tours, painting hints and tips and more.


Thank you for subscribing!