You will need



  • Saunders Waterford or Arches 140lb NOT 15x11in. (38x28cm)


  • Sable Rounds Nos. 2, 4, 8, 12
  • Sable flat ‘brights’ Nos. 4 & 16

Artists’ watercolour

  • Winsor yellow
  • Winsor lemon
  • Permanent rose
  • Cobalt blue
  • French ultramarine
  • Cerulean blue


  • Pencil
  • Kitchen roll or tissue


Step 1

Either draw your image directly from the reference photograph or first rearrange the components of the subject then draw your own modified composition. Draw lightly; do not imitate the strength of line in the illustration shown above.


Step 2

1. Using a No. 8 Round sable, well loaded with a moderately pale mix of permanent rose and a little Winsor yellow, gently float the first colour wash on. Do not scrub it into the paper with a half-dry brush.
2. While this first wash is still shiny wet add touches of cobalt blue to produce variety of tone and colour temperature. Apply the blue with a deft touch; do not fiddle it into the body of the paper. When adding the blue, ensure that your brush is no wetter than the paper so as to avoid oozles (backruns) forming as the wash dries.



Step 3

Ensure the first wash is absolutely dry before applying the next layer of washes. If it is still wet or even slightly damp, you will disturb the underlying colour. Use either a flat or Round brush. If using a flat brush, the graded nature of some of the marks can be achieved in one stroke; simply have more paint on one side of your brush than the other. If using a Round brush, stronger colour can be gently touched in while the marks are still wet. Vary the size and shape of your marks to add interest. Remember to float on the glaze. Don’t fiddle with it and disturb the colour underneath.



Step 4

Continue as in the previous step using darker tones. A dark wash is made up with more paint, not less water. When laying darker glazes, ensure that your brush is still well loaded. Darks scrubbed on with a dryish brush will not be transparent. The darker marks in some of the petals were added while still shiny wet. However, the graded wash in the corner of the turned petal in the lower right flower was added once the underlying petal shape had dried. Negative painting was used on the lower left bud to reserve the light shapes of the sepals, which will be added at a later stage.


Step 5

1. Begin the background by laying in cerulean blue and lemon yellow wet on wet.
2. When this is dry, put in suggestions of leaf shapes with pale blue-green and yellow-green washes.
3. Create ‘lost and found’ passages by softening some of the edges of these shapes. It is easiest to soften an edge while it is still wet. Using a clean brush and clear water, first wet the adjoining area before gradually working towards the edge to be softened. When contact is made with the wet edge, the brush should be the same wetness as the wash. A wetter brush will result in water oozing into the wash, and a drier brush will draw colour out of the wash and into the wetted area.


Step 6

Continue building up the background leaves, buds and flowers. Ensure that each layer is allowed to dry before adding the next. Do not be impatient! Vary size, shape, tone, texture and colour when creating these marks. Individual shapes can also be variegated in colour and graded in tone.


Step 7

1. The stems and calyxes are built up in a number of stages. Start by painting their shapes with a moderately light wash, and while this is still wet drop in stronger tones in a variety of colours. Stems are not only green; adding red will aid integration with the flowers they support.
2. When these first marks are dry, darken one side of the stems with a graded wash to create the impression of rounded form. Use tonal contrast to separate stems where they cross in front of, or behind one another.


Step 8

Add more background leaf and flower shapes in a variety of tones and colours. Consider developing a complementary colour scheme; creating a dominantly green background will have the effect of enhancing the vibrancy of the red flowers (red and green are complementary colours).


Step 9

1. Aim for a sense of dynamic balance with the judicious placement of darker shapes; such tonal variation should also create an enhanced feeling of depth. In the finished painting, the upper flower appears mostly dark against a lighter background, whereas the lower right rose is mostly light against a darker background. Variation such as this adds interest.
2. Some of the darker passages in the background are slightly opaque; this opacity should complement the transparency of the lighter more luminous areas around them.
3. To unify and warm the end result, an orange-yellow glaze was floated on, starting at the bottom and grading it off towards the top. Be very careful that you do not disturb the underlying paint when doing this.



Rambling Roses, watercolour, 15x11in. (38x28cm)




This feature is taken from the August 2012 issue of Leisure Painter