Watercolour lessons – How to paint a Rose

When learning to paint flowers in watercolor, initially choose a flower with very few petals or even choose a bud that shows a predominant large piece of petal – as opposed to a flower with numerous petals. Multiple petals can be overwhelming and feel like a maze to paint.

Once drawn, concentrate on each petal separately by narrowing down your focus to a small area. If you look at the whole task ahead it will become overwhelming. Keep your focus on the area you are painting until you have blocked in your underpainting and feel confident. Creating a ‘map’ by underpainting the light and dark areas will stand you in good stead for the rest of the painting.

Warm and cool colours

Each petal is described using warm and cool shades of similar colors. For instance a red rose will become lighter and cooler as the petal is more affected by the light. As it recedes into the inner depth of the rose or into the shadows behind the rose – the colors become warmer and darker. Take a look at a rose in your garden or in a vase. You will see how the buds and the main rose petals that are in the very inner area or in shadow are more rich in hue – whereas the lighter areas that are affected by daylight are cooler and are more pink/purple (cool) in hue. To see what I mean, do a brush out demo of a bright red petal. Keep the color at the base of the petal warm and rich using a warm red. Now brush in a lighter area of a crimson color such as alizarin crimson. Lighten the Alizarin crimson as it unfolds into the light. See how much cooler it looks compared to the brighter red?

Shadows are created using the local color (which means the color of the subject before light and shadow affect it. For example, a green leaf has a local color of green – a red petal has a local color of red.)

Shadow Colours

Mixing your shadow color: Take your local color – let’s say we have a bright red rose – so we take bright red – now add a touch of the complimentary color of red – which is green. You may vary your shadow color by favoring more red than green – or adding a touch of Phthalo blue – or even a touch of orange to warm the red/green shadow mix up. Variations of colors in the shadows make the shadows dance and glow like jewels. I never use grey to describe shadows.

It is fun to see a rose emerge from the white paper. It is about creating something so real you could almost smell the fragrance. It is all to do with knowing the ‘traps for young players’, mixing your colors and learning how to see exactly what is in front of you. Then creating the impression of substance rather than something simply ‘painted’. Have fun!

How to paint a Rose - Watercolor Art Lessons
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