Dried Roses – Composition

Having seven roses to work with, my next challenge has been to think about a composition. There were so many options. My technique  of creating a painting involves drawing the subject, then using tracing paper to create an ink line drawing. This technique is really useful for planning compositions.

The photograph below shows the penultimate composition:Image

I liked the centre rose facing forward, and having a rose on each side looking out the edge of the page. After that, I wanted to show the different aspects and views of the rose heads. The only view missing from the arrangement in the photograph is seeing the rose head directly from behind. I changed the final composition to incorporate this:Image

I knew I wasn’t satisfied with the stems. I think that the stems are one of the most important parts of this composition, I’ll make sure that I focus on these when it comes to putting the whole thing together.



Dried Red Roses

I have begun a new project, 7 dried roses. I got given this bunch of lovely bright red roses from my boyfriend on returning from Africa (I had been there on a placement for 2 months). They have sat in their vase since August, drying out in the hope of creating an interesting subject!


After my practicing, practicing, practicing with the holly, I knew I wanted to do a full piece (with sufficient still practice of course, but not hours and hours!)

Below is my first attempt at the practice flower. In this case a study was essential, because I really had to look hard at the different colours and textures. The photograph of the rose above doesn’t do the dried petals any favours; the golden glow isn’t visible at all! Infact, when I look closely at the subject there is hardly any of that bright red at all – its amazing how different a photograph can appear!


Next job is to start thinking about a composition, including the other 6 stems!

Holly Leaves

I keep coming back to holly. I think I’ve found it my biggest challenge since starting botanical illustration. I think its the combination of the flat surface and the shine. I still remember an attempt I made a couple of years ago, that’s how much of a disaster I viewed it as (I would post a photo for the comedy value, but I can’t find the painting…….!)

I did quite a lot of browsing other botanical artists’ paintings of holly, and there is a lot of inspiration out there.


This is ‘Holly and Ivy’ by Gaynor Dickeson.
She is a wonderful artist and has been a huge inspiration to me. 

I knew that for my next holly attempt, I would need to practice, practice, practice. I drew multiple outlines of a holly leaf and set to work.


Here you can see my first 3 attempts, with some notes at the sides as to the colours I used, and the layers of washes. None of these felt right to me. By the 4th attempt I felt like I was getting somewhere.

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4th Study – Finally a success?