Iris step by step

I painted this iris ages ago and took photos of the stages.  Thought you might like to see the progress of the painting.  It’s quite small…about A4 size.

I love depicting these flowers with their delicious folds and frills!

The challenge was to bring out the iris against a dark background.  The white edges at the top were important in making the flower stand out and not be lost in the background.  I like putting in a background as I don’t want to produce a botanical study but to try and catch the spirit of the flower growing in its natural environment.  I like the stroked in leaves at the bottom giving a bit of depth and context.

My drawing from my own photo. I’ve masked out the sparkly white areas with masking fluid.
First wash.  I wet the whole paper and then dropped in colours to reflect the flower and a natural background. Yellows dropped into the centre of the flower wet in wet. (See colours used below)
Here I’ve started to lay in colours round the edge of the petals, wetting the whole petal first and then dropping in colour right on the edge and letting it spread.  some shadow work within the white areas
More background laid in.  Darker tones around the top and some dark greens stroked in wet in wet at the bottom to give the impression of more leaves. Then the masking was removed.
Hard edged shadows worked in round the edges of the top petals.  This brings out the white sparkles making it look sunlit.  I’ve painted negatively behind the main leaves with darker tones to bring them out against the background.


The Final Painting


Colours used:

Cobalt blue, Ultramarine blue, cobalt violet, Winsor violet, quinacridone gold, aureolin, permanent rose, Indian yellow

Winsor blue, quinacridone gold, aureolin to make the GREENS

Cobalt blue,cobalt violet, touch of permanent rose for the FLOWER SHADOWS

Indian yellow for the CENTRE

Drawings,tracings and tranferring

I’m still working on the new book.  It’s going to be a practical manual of techniques for painting flowers in watercolour.  There will be tracings!

The other day I was asked to produce some tracings.  I had learned about a simple method of transferring sketches early on in my study of watercolour.  It helped me greatly in my teaching, as I was able to produce a finished drawing from a rough sketch and then reproduce and share this drawing with students using the computer and photoshop.


I also used it in my own painting.  It’s great when you get those first ideas that you have when you produce your initial sketch.  But how do you then transfer them on to the piece of watercolour paper as a finished, tidy drawing?  I’ve developed a way of doing this.

Above is an example of the first stage of producing a sketch from some inspirational material.  I’ve sketched a design from my  photos with the help of some real leaves from the garden for reference.  I then tidy it up and produce a pen drawing.  Here’s an example.


Then this is how I transfer it.  I make my own carbon paper.  Using a graphite stick I put some dense scribble on to some good quality tracing paper.  Then I “set” this by scumbling over some methylated spirit on a piece of cotton wool and let it dry which only takes a minute or two.  This makes the carbon less likely to shed the graphite and dirty your work.



I can then place this carbon underneath my sketch/finished drawing and copy it on to my watercolour paper.  I use a biro to do this as it gives a clearer copy.

This is also how I produced the tracings for the book.

Here’s the finished painting of the sketch at the top of this post.  Clematis Montana on a trellis.


New Year…new start.

It has been a very long time since I wrote on this blog.  But new year and new start…here we go.

First of all Happy New Year everyone!  May good health and happiness follow you all year!

We did an update to the website over the Christmas holidays and now there is much more to see and to entertain you !  By scrolling down on the right hand side column, you can see what I’m putting on my facebook page, have a look at my youtube videos, see any news and read about my books with their links to Amazon and more.

In the garden as we speak there are things happening…bulbs poking up out of the chilly earth and we will soon have snowdrops nodding in the Winter breeze.


Backlit garden Snowdrops

I cannot wait for the garden to wake up!