As I mentioned in a prior post, I love flowers so much and really hate to see them shrivel and die. I guess, in a strange way, knowing they are only here for a such a fleeting time only makes me long for them more and probably enhances their beauty. This inspires me to want to capture that beauty and prolong it. While my drawings aren't what I would describe as hyper-realistic by any stretch of the imagination, they help me capture the feeling I have when looking at them and also help me know them in a more intimate way since drawing them really forces me to observe them in such an in-depth and engrossing manner. When I look at a painting I have made, I can flash back immediately to what I was doing and how I was feeling when I made the painting.
I'd like to walk you through my simple process of illustrating a rose step-by-step. I start by getting a visual reference. In this case, I am using a rose from a bouquet I received.
Here are the supplies I use: If you are using watercolor, a 140lb paper is great. I also sometimes use a mixed media paper which is 90lbs. ( It takes less water and is a little thinner.) As far as texture goes, I like a less textured surface of paper because I really like details so I often use a hot press paper instead of the cold press which is more bumpy. I use a mechanical pencil (.05 is my favorite), a micron pen to ink over the pencil, and an eraser to get rid of the stray pencil marks after I ink the sketch. I like a round size 0 paintbrush for the details. Lastly, watercolor paints! I have a lot of different sets I like to play with. The main difference between the cheaper paints and the expensive ones is the pigment quality. The more expensive sets have gorgeous deep pigments and they stand the test of time. Don't let this intimidate you from buying a cheap-o set to play with when you are getting started. They work just fine!
The first thing I do is position the rose at a pretty angle for painting. I used some tape to affix the rose to the vase so it would not move from that angle.
I really take a close look and pick out a starting point. I start with the rose petals themselves and work my way from top to bottom. I really try to take in the overall shape and where I want it centered on my paper. Observe all the details and then just zoom out and sketch the shape, Once you have the general shape and how you want it centered, you can start fine tuning the details.
Start by sketching out the rough shape. I generally sketch very lightly so I can erase and edit. I darkened these lines so you could get a better look. The key is to simply draw exactly what you see. Stand back, take breaks and come back to it. Keep editing, erasing and sketching more until you are satisfied with the general shape.
I worked my way down until I was satisfied with the overall sketch. You can see all the eraser crumbles! Lots of editing.
Once satisfied with the overall sketch, I start to add ink. I carefully go over my pencil lines.
I start to add value. Value adds dimension to your object so that it does not appear flat. You can squint to find your darkest darks. I like to add pointillism. Once you have your darkest darks, you can use that as a reference to add your mid tones (value that is not the darkest or lightest but somewhere in the middle, hence 'mid-tones'.)
Now that I added my ink and some value, I will erase the pencil markings. You can see the darker values have more dots. Creating value can also be achieved with other methods (As an example, you can use cross hatching: drawing a series of lines and then drawing perpendicular lines over them. You can make it darker by making more lines closer together.)
I add a light layer of wash to both the stem and the rose. This is called 'underpainting'. It is just like it sounds. You try to find the lightest light and paint a light wash as your first layer. Use your visual reference and keep adding layers of color. This is another way of adding depth to your painting.
Now I start to layer on more color.
I continue to build my colors. When I am satisfied with my colors, I use a removal technique to achieve lighter highlights. I make my brush damp (but not dripping). I wet the brush, then wipe it slightly on a paper towel to remove drips. I then swipe over the area I wish to remove the paint from and quickly dab the area with a paper towel to pick up the paint.
Voila! You can see the spots where I removed some paint on the rose and also on the leaves to emphasize the highlights. That all there is to it! I hope you give it a try. It can really be so satisfying and now you have a special memento to remind you of this fleeting beauty!