Botanical painting has been practised for hundreds of years and is still a popular painting style today, especially amongst watercolour painters. German artist Susanne Absolon shows us step by step how she creates a botanical painting – a yellow-red rose – in watercolour. Susanne uses the superb Schmincke Horadam watercolours.
Shown above are the colours of Schmincke Horadam Watercolours that Susanne uses for Watercolour Botanical Painting: Titanium Yellow, Cadmium Yellow Lemon, Yellow Orange, Transparent Orange, Saturn Red, Quinacridone Red Light, Perylene Dark Red, Quinacridone Magenta, Manganese Violet, French Ultramarine, Green Earth, Viridian and Perylene Green.
Other supplies she uses:
• Hahnemühle watercolour paper, hot pressed, 300 gsm 30x45cm
• DaVinci watercolour brushes with a long tip
• Mijello airtight palette
• Printed photo of roses (colour or black and white)
Painting a Yellow-Red Rose in Watercolour with Susanne Absolon
I’ve chosen some good photos of roses, taken by me in full sunlight, where the blossom and the bud as well as some leaves can be seen in all their details.
With a pencil, I draw a sketch of all main forms of the rose, the bud and all leaves. As a guide, I use prints of my photos or the computer screen, where I can enlarge all details. For an easier recognition of the tonal value (light-dark-contrast) I use a black and white print.
Here you can see the whole composition with the first glazes of colour. The basic tint for all green mixtures is Green Earth, one of my favourite greens. It is a transparent colour and one of the most natural green shades one can find and use even straight from the tube.
For the red of the blossom/bud I used Quinacridone Red Light, Saturn Red and Perylene Dark Red. For the petals, I mainly used the very useful for botanical painting colours Titanium Yellow and Transparent Yellow Orange, which can be partially mixed with Transparent Orange and Cadmium Yellow Lemon.
For a more three-dimensional effect, where the bud seems to be more in the foreground, it gets the most intense colours. The white denticulated edges at the leaves of the bud will be left open. At first, I paint the red glaze with indicated smallest teeth. After drying, I paint the green glaze at the opposite side with small teeth, too.
Now I paint the first glaze of the leaf in a cooler Viridian to let the bud come forward. This leaf later will get more glazes in warmer green shades. The
denticulated edges are painted with the brush
tip in growing direction. The middle vein is left
open – it will be painted with a tender glaze only after
finishing the leaf.
Here, nearly all petals, leaves and stalks are painted. For the reddish shimmering edges of the leaves I add some Quinacridone Red Light and Transparent Orange into the still wet glaze. The green turned leaf underneath the blossom gets a first shadow glaze, while the saw-toothed edge remains free.
The blossom is nearly finished, painted with shadow parts, but nevertheless it needs some more glazing layers. If a colour becomes unintentionally too dark, you can re-wet this part with a small wet brush and take off the colour with a tissue. Then, you can paint on an even lighter glaze this time.
Into the green leaves I have already painted some details using several green mixtures to indicate the inner parts of the typical “pillow-like” forms between the secondary veins.
Here I have corrected the too-dark parts inside the blossom. The leaf at the right underneath the blossom got an attractive hard shadow, which shines through onto the underpart of the leaf.
For the soft shadows at the underpart of the red petals you will need several glazes, as otherwise it is not possible to paint convincing shadows on intense red parts. Thus, I glazed with an intense red, mixed to be darkened with a very small amount of Manganese Violet. This violet contains more red than blue. The delicate thorns at the stalks will be painted with the small No. 2 flat brush and get afterwards a shadow with the finest possible (No. 0 or 1) brush at the underpart.
After some final glazes and shadows onto the leaves, I add a final red glaze onto the foremost petal as well as an increasing yellow-green glaze onto the bud. Now the yellow-red rose is finished. I put my signature in my favourite colour Quinacridone Red Light onto this watercolour painting.
Susanne Absolon has taught and exhibited for many years. She has studied flower painting with Billy Showell, Anna Mason and the London Art College.
Click on the underlined link to go to the current offer on the Schmincke Horadam watercolours on the Jackson’s Art Supplies website.
Postage on orders shipped standard to mainland UK addresses is free for orders of £39 or more.