Watercolour Flowers Week 5: Rose

May 27, 2022

Painted mainly wet in wet

This week’s challenge is to paint a single rose or small group up to two and a bud. We’ll try two ways of working one largely wet in wet and also perhaps look at the use of masking tape in addition to the masking fluid used last week to make some interesting textures and compositions.

First washes, allowed to dry; these were applied to dry paper so little gaps could be left for the petals and work proceeded from the centre of the flower outwards with increasingly wet washes. In this case a sponge was used to lift out some colour around the rose.
Re-wetted most of the paper and added more dilute washes of red and blue
Further washes added as the paper dried, so that some brush strokes held their shape where the paper had dried. This is a matter of judgement and the best way is to practise.
I could have stopped there.
But I decided to experiment with some more opulent colour, so the paper was strategically re-wetted for a final time, softening edges in places and adding colour both wet in wet, and wet on dry. It was then definitely time to stop but hope you will see the different moods created by the different tone and colour.

Much of the time will be spent looking and choosing the pigments best suited to your particular rose, thinking in terms of using no more than three pigments.

1. Look at tone;

Thinking tonally becomes even more important when painting single flowers so it is important to take note of how light falls on the bloom. In strongly directional light the darker side of even the palest rose may appear quite dark. Conversely the better lit side of the deepest rose may appear surprisingly light in colour. Observe how the light affects each individual petal revealing their spiral arrangement. If a flower is seen against the light as when placed in a window with the light behind it, the whole form may appear dark and almost silhouetted against the incoming light.

2. Look at the form and shapes;

Try turning your rose so that you are looking straight down at the flower and take note of the spiral arrangement of its petals. Then turn it slightly away from you and notice how different it looks, finally turn the flower so you are looking at it from the side. It may be helpful to make rapid sketches of your rose at these different angles to familiarise yourself with the shapes.

3. Choose pigments

Decide on the pigments best suited to paint your rose. Try to limit this to three. This will help unify the study and help prevent muddy mixes especially if you are able to use transparent colours for most of the painting. Try out mixing colours in the palette as well as seeing what happens when one colour is dropped into another while it is still wet.

4. Background;

Pink Rose
Rich dark background
Pink Roses
Pale background giving a much cooler look.

The background may be composed of the foliage surrounding the bloom, a colour and tone which is observed or may be your choice. The hue and tone of the background will greatly affect the mood of the study. Another important element will be to decide on the tone and hue of the background which can greatly affect the mood of the painting.

Another interesting approach to have fun with the composition and the background is to apply some initial washes and allow them to dry and then apply low tack masking tape. The demonstration below is how last week’s composition has developed so far. This could easily be done with a much simpler study and can be very useful if your background is a window or edge of a wall.

Initial washes made and lifted out the white areas; allowed to dry; masking fluid applied; allowed to dry; low tack masking tape applied and suggestion of a table top washed in.
This was painted into in places, allowed to dry thoroughly before carefully removing the tape.
Allowed to dry and more tape added.
Further washes were then applied.
Tape removed when the wash to the right of it had dried.

In this week’s session I will start a wet in wet rose and while the first washes dry I’ll progress the posy, adding more washes, a few details and a little gouache. Some of the masking fluid was very free mark making so now it has been removed I have a rather different painting to develop!

Do take a look at Trevor Waugh’s roses, Pinterest link below:

and another look at Shirley Trevena’s work at

Have some small pieces of cold pressed watercolour paper at the ready or tape off some areas on a larger sheet for your wet in wet studies of a single rose. There is then scope for allowing washes to dry while another study is started.

A hair dryer greatly speeds the process!

Your Paintings;

Pink Rose
Painted wet in wet by Ann
Yellow Pink and Red
by Ann
Started with wet in wet washes and then developed with drawing media
More Rose Explorations
by Ann
Pink Rose
by Maryon
by Maryon
Red and yellow
by Mali
Apricot Rose (cropped)
by Mali
Pink Roses
by Sandra
Rhapsody in Blue
by Sandra
Yellow Roses
by Anne
Red Roses
by Anne
Soft Yellow Rose
by Virginia
Yellow Rose
by Virginia
Roses in the Mist
by Virginia

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