Botanical artist Billy Showell describes how she captures these flowers in watercolour


The anemone's pretty frilly collars and constantly altering petals make it a most delightful subject for the botanical painter.

There was a time when I found anemones too intimidating to paint, but a commission forced me to take up the challenge and now I adore painting them. The predominant reason for this is their stems; the flowers can twist and turn, creating all kinds of composition possibilities.

Anemones are also steeped in history and have been depicted in various styles and media by many artists.

Draw a simple flower





Draw a simple outline of the flower – I use a sharp HB – and lightly indicate the overall shape. Then, starting with the most dominant petal, build out to complete the remaining silhouette



Paint an aneneome with Billy Showell


• Lightly lift excess graphite from the study with a putty or plastic rubber, I use a soft dabbing motion to leave just a feint trace of the drawing
• Mix up a puddle of red; for this flower I used a mix of quinacridone red with a hint of permanent rose
• Glaze one petal with water and, while still wet, drop in the red, allowing it to spread towards the white part of the petal. Then carefully sweep out the highlights with a clean but virtually dry brush. Work up the petals alternately allowing each to dry


Botanical painting with Billy Showell




When all the first coats of the petals are dry, remove all the pencil. Glaze the centre white part of the flower with water and carefully drop in some quinacridone magenta, allowing it to spread to create a fuzzy semicircle. While this is drying sweep in some texture using the tip of a slightly damp brush. When completely dry paint in the centre of the flower with a weak mix of cadmium yellow pale and French ultramarine. Finally, put a small glaze of cobalt blue on the underneath of the curled-up petal



Pink anenomeThe shadow mix is a blend of French ultramarine, cadmium yellow pale and cadmium red deep: mix them until you achieve a soft neutral grey. Only put on small amounts of shadow at a time and soften the edge of the shadow with a clean damp brush; use the same soft grey to create the veining on the white part of the petals. Add some fine lines of quinacridone magenta to create the filaments. Use the very tip of your brush to apply fine veins in quinacidone red over the petals – study the direction of the veins and copy them as closely as you can to create shape and realism. For the top part of the stem use a blend of cadmium yellow pale and Winsor blue green shade and, when dry, add a little cadmium red to the green to create the shadow cast across the stem.How to paint flowers



Glaze over areas of the petals with the original red and pink mix to strengthen the colour where necessary. When all the petals are dry, use a mix of cadmium red deep, indigo and titanium white to dab in the heads of the stamens; allow to become completely dry



Paint a botanical watercolour anenomeSTAGE SIX

Observe the shape and direction of the stamens: outline or accentuate each of the stamen heads with a virtually black mix of indigo and cadmium red deep




This article is extracted from the July 2008 issue of The Artist.