Cherry Blossom Painting – and my first exhibition!

I recently completed 2 cherry blossom paintings, which I painted specifically for the Society of Floral Painters Oxmarket Exhibition. As much as I am enjoying my paintings for the SBA diploma, I really loved painting something completely different, for the sheer enjoyment of it, and with the intention of exhibiting. The whole experience was even better than I imagined (and there was even a little surprise  – see the bottom of this post!)


There’s a cherry blossom tree in my parent’s garden that is completely breathtaking. The variety is Prunus kanzan. Cherry blossom is definitely one of my favourites; the sheer wow factor is gives, despite being so soft and delicate, is amazing. The fact that it is so fleeting makes it just that little bit special. I always know to make the most of it whilst it lasts.

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It’s always been something I wanted to paint, but it is incredibly daunting, with the sheer number of those delicate flowers. Since starting painting botanically, I definitely have a much greater awareness of the beauty of nature, in particular for aspects of plants that might not draw you in initially. I noticed the buds on the cherry blossom for the first time this year. They’re so beautiful, and I thought that this would be a great way to ease me in to painting the full blossom.

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Prunus kanzan in bud:

If you’re a regular reader of my blog posts, you’ll know my system: a very accurate and detailed line drawing, and then ink tracing, which is used for transferring my work onto watercolour paper.

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This is followed by some careful studies, particularly focussing on colour accuracy. I painted this piece using only 5 colours: Indanthrone blue by Daniel Smith, Quinacridone Rose (also Daniel Smith), Permanent Alizarin Crimson, Aureolin, and Burnt Sienna (all Windsor and Newton). This was the first time I have consciously worked with a limited palette. It really does help to unite the painting, and reduces the risk of the painting becoming muddy.

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Some work in progress photos:

Below are some WIP photos of this small piece. It was a big contrast to work in very small areas at a time (for example compare this with my onion painting, where all the washes were very large).


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The finished piece:

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Prunus kanzan in flower

This was a much bigger challenge, and I had serious doubts about whether or not I would be able to pull it off. It was actually my Dad who had faith in me, and encouraged me to give it a shot. The drawing phase took about the same amount of time as the painting, but it really was so important for this painting to get it right.

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As you can see from the photo above, my painting was too large for my drawing board (which is only used to fairly small paintings!). I (with some help) managed to create a way for the paper to bend underneath the table, using a piece of drainpipe!

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By attaching the drainpipe to the bottom of the drawing board, the paper curved very gently round and underneath the table, without creasing. I attached a round piece of wood to the bottom of the paper, around which I could bend the paper, and place to rest in the drainpipe.

Some work in progress photos:

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The finished piece:
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The Exhibition

The Society of Floral Painters has an annual exhibition at the Oxmarket Centre for Arts in Chichester, England. This was my first time attending the exhibition, and my first ever time exhibiting my artwork professionally. I was so excited to be a part of it. It’s run by volunteers, so I went down to Chichester on handing in day, and also to Steward on Sunday. I was really impressed by the standard of work, and by the organisation of the exhibition. It is open from 20th May till the 7th June, do drop in if you are nearby! I was so happy that I had both of the cherry blossom pieces accepted to be hung, and I also received some exciting news……

Photo: Society of Floral Painters Facebook page.

Photo: Society of Floral Painters Facebook page.


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Prunus kanzan in bud received Highly Commended in the Award for Excellence! I couldn’t believe it, and was over the moon. Thank you to the judges for believing in a beginner. I’m so excited to exhibit again in the future.

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What a long post. Thank you if you’ve reached the bottom! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about these two pieces.

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15 thoughts on “Cherry Blossom Painting – and my first exhibition!

  1. So very pleased for you Helen. I’m not surprised at your success your work is so precise and delicate. Really enjoyed your blog and many thanks for the tip about the drainpipe. Keep onwards and upwards young lady! Hope to meet you when you are inDeal again.

  2. Congratulations. 🙂 I stumbled upon your blog while looking for botanical illustrations. Read all the posts. Enjoyed the journey. Wish you all the best.

  3. Helen well done! Thanks as always for taking us on the journey with you. It’s easy to forget how beautiful these fleeting flowers are. I had the privilege of visiting Japan last year at the height of the cherry blossom season. It just blew me away – I had foolishly thought it was a bit of a beat up, how wrong I was. These are beautiful paintings and I look forward to seeing you continue on this journey.

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