Roses in October

This autumn was a rather warm one, and in the Netherlands it was apparently the warmest October on record. A bit worrying as it is obviously attributed to global warming and climate change. Nevertheless the leaves on the trees had yet to change color and fall off, and the flowers were still beautifully standing upright. I took a lot of photos then of our garden along with the wilderness during our walks. One of the instances that pleasantly surprised me at the time was discovering that those the pink roses in our garden were still around! Though now a distant memory as we are now back to some “normal” autumn weather, those roses still stick in my mind. And of course I was very much inspired to paint about it. Great going back to flowers again!

Pencil Sketch

Although flowers tend to be another recurring theme in my paintings, I have yet to try a rose. They look so complex to draw! It need not be, though, as I discovered. Google search helped me find some step-by-step instructions on how to draw roses. There are quite a few methods depending on how you like your flower. Closed? Full bloom? Buds? I began practicing on my sketchbook and then digitally too on my iPad. The basic thing is that we start with the inner part of the rose and work our way outwards. For instance, you draw a little circle then another one around it, then another one, followed by a base and then the petals. It was so much fun practicing and I kept at it until I was confident enough to transfer the skills onto a proper painting! Here I went for Strathmore’s Visual Journal for Watercolor. Not looking to bad, is it?

Autumnal Background

Once I was happy with my sketch, it was time to color them in! Looking for some tranquility and softness in this painting, I opted for watercolor. My plan was to make the roses pink like the ones in our garden, but since I wanted to emphasize autumn as the theme for this painting, I chose the typically seasonal shades of yellow and orange for the background. In most paintings, I usually begin with the background and went for my Japanese watercolors, Kuretake Gansai Tambi. A light wash of yellow and orange. What a beautiful blend of colors!

Painting the Roses

And here comes the exciting part: Painting the roses! Recently I bought a new set of Kuretake Gansai Tambi watercolors pans which come in colors that are not included in the original one. These include baby pink (called Cherry Blossom Pink so you get the gist), lilac, lime green and yellow-green to name a few. And what a great opportunity to try them out here! I also combined those colors with Holbein’s watercolor tubes in Pastel shades. Cherry Blossom Pink and Lilac were chosen for the flowers along with the pastel pink from the Holbein’s range. To give the flowers some dimension, I used a different shade for each petal. And now the leaves: A blend of Lime-Green and Yellow-Green was used together with a green from Holbein’s range, So far looks great!

Adding Dimension with Colored Pencils

You can indeed use watercolor to create dimension and add light and shade but I wanted to experiment instead with combining watercolor with colored pencils. In fact, I find colored pencils easier to work with and feel they help to bring the colors out more. Holbein’s Artist’s Colored Pencils were my choice here simply because they have a wonderful range of pastel shades. Hence I worked through the roses with two of the pastel pink shades and for the leaves I merely drew in the veins but did not go much into detail since the main emphasis of this painting was the roses themselves. And see how much richer the colors turn out when watercolor and colored pencils work together!

I’m very pleased with this painting. Although not my usual style, it was a great idea to do something different and once again explore beyond my comfort zone. It was, as mentioned earlier, my first time to draw and paint roses, something I never really ventured to try out. However, seeing those roses in my garden the other day gave me inspiration and a good excuse to give it a go, and I am glad I did. I shall definitely be incorporating roses into my paintings from now and would love to learn to draw other types of flowers too!

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