Helleborus Niger – Christmas Rose
Well this Helleborus Niger has appeared after Christmas, but is still a beautiful addition to the watercolour sketches. Slowly but surely I’m adding to my collection of hellebores with this Helleborus Niger.
This plant is also known as Black Hellebore due to its black roots. There are sinister myths about the poisonous qualities of this plant and yet it also meant to have medicinal attributes too. Helleborus Niger is used in medicine for cardiovascular disease.
A steep bank, a sandstone wall and timber posts
It isn’t always easy finding a subject to paint, but sometimes something can catch your eye. On one of my usual local walks I came across the above Helleborus Niger.
First I walked along a muddy narrow lane with a high bank on my left. The lane had wet sand dispersed across it. There was a sandstone cottage in front with a sandstone wall around the garden. Then the lane turned left before the cottage and became a steep bank. On the right of the steep lane the sandstone wall of the cottage continued along the lane. As I reached the top of the bank, the garden also ended. So the right side of the lane opened up with a grass verge. The garden wall running along the top, marking the end of the garden and the beginning of the verge, had disappeared. Timber posts had replaced the wall. It seemed this part of the wall had crumbled away over the years.
Sprouting through these posts and under the trees I spotted the white of the Helleborus Niger. It was only by looking back that I spotted this lovely plant.
Outdoor rough sketching
I had my backpack, with a few sketching tools, so I quickly got a small sketch pad out. I did a rough pencil outline of the Helleborus Niger. Then I used watercolour pencils to highlight the colours. I used the pencil to show flowerhead definition and to jot some notes about the plant. I worked quickly in case it rained again.
Then when I got back to the studio, while it was still fresh in my mind, I quickly re-drew the Hellebore on a larger pad. I mixed three watercolour palettes, blue/grey, yellow and green. The resulting Helleborus Niger can be seen above.