Unmistakably associated with love and Valentine’s Day, the red rose is a true symbol of romance. Inspired by Valentine’s Day being just around the corner, I decided to paint this delicate red flower. I was eager to paint a bright red rose with many layers of petals; however, I do wish I had gone even bigger! Painting larger botanical pieces can sometimes make it much easier to create definition within each petal.
Find out how I created this lovely red rose using my pure watercolour technique.
For this botanical watercolour, I decided to use the Sanders Waterford 140lbs hot press paper. Hot pressed paper has the most delightfully smooth surface which is ideal for botanical works and delicate brushstrokes. Fortunately, due to the heavy weight of the paper it doesn’t require stretching too so I could start my painting straight away! For my brushes, I selected the Winsor and Newton Kolinsky series 7 sable watercolour brushes in sizes 1 and 00 which are often one of my main brushes of choice. All of my watercolour paints are Winsor and Newton professional artist paints.
My first step was to create a simple pencil outline of the red rose. I had decided to work out all of the intricate petals and their detailing as I painted. For my watercolour paints, I mixed a yellow and orange pigment alongside a pale pink and then a red with a subtle orange hue.
The painting started at the centre of the rose, this included the yellow and orange anthers of the stamen. Continuing on, I split the head of the rose into quarters. I began with the top left section heading around in an anti-clockwise direction. I felt this process aided me in understanding the incredible structure of the rose petals and ensured I painted methodically with one section at a time.
The pink watercolour mix was then slowly added and developed around each of the rose petals, one by one. I was repeatedly adding more layers of paint as each previous layer had dried, this helps develop the stunning bright pink tone. Following on, I added the red watercolour mix into the main areas of each of the petals. Again, adding additional layers of paint as the previous dried underneath.
The white sections
As I worked, I left areas of white around each petal of the red rose. This helped me identify the structure and specific shape. I then added a gentle wash of pink tone to the white areas of the painting. Any true white within the painting is the tone of the hot-pressed paper surface.
The black sections of the red rose
Next I created a black mix of watercolour. No black pigment is used in my paintings, just a mix of the primary colours which creates my pure watercolour technique. I applied this black mix to the petals very delicately to represent the shadows on each of the petals. Again, the process involved building layers of wash up as the previous layers dried. I then touched up some of the red areas on the petals.
Finishing off the red rose
To finish my red rose watercolour painting, I created a light green watercolour mix for the stem and leaves of the flower. I painted the veins of the leaves first, then using a simple blue wash, I created highlight areas on the leaves. Following on from this, I mixed my green watercolour to a darker share and painted between the veins. To finish off, for definition, I brushed some of the red watercolour mix to the edges of the leaves.