Saturday, 15 February 2014

How to paint a rose in acrylics. Step by step.

Roses are just such beautiful flowers. The ones I like best are the ones with subtle changes of colour within them. I also love the really scented ones! 
I am writing this on a cold dark February day. Unfortunately there are no roses blooming in my garden this time of year.

It is best to paint from the real thing if you can. However, if you take some quality photos during the summer months they will get you through the winter. It is best to take the same flower from several angles, so you can really get a feel of the structure as if you were turning a cut flower around in your hand. Also zoom in to get close up details.  I particularly like back-lit roses, where the sunshine makes the colours and contrasts exaggerated.

Here are some photos I used for inspiration for this painting.

Before I started the painting I did some sketches to work out the shape and composition I wanted. The following one was my favourite. It shows the rose at a good angle. I used pencil plus a little bit of black pen to show the really dark areas.

I then did a pen and ink study to work out where I wanted the highlights and shadows to go. I traced the outline from the drawing above, so they would be the same.

I then copied my design on to some heavyweight white card. I painted in the background first to isolate the rose, and make it easier to see what I was doing!

Next  I started to put in some colours. At this stage I am not being too accurate, or mixing the colours much. I am using Chromacolour which is a type of liquid acrylic paint. This is a very small painting and I am working with size 2 and 4 brushes to just get the paint on fairly quickly. My main aim at this stage is to show individual petals. They all look a bit muddled as a drawing. Once the paint is applied it is easier to see what goes where!

I keep going with the "filling in" stage. Now I have a better ides of each petal shape. It looks very simplistic and messy at the moment!

Following this stage when I have filled in the whole flower, I start to be a bit more selective with the actual colour I need for each section. I work over the entire painting trying to get the colours more realistic. This means blending and mixing to achieve the shades I want. I have also added more paint to the background.
I have looked more carefully at the dark and light areas. This gives the painting some depth, and makes the rose take on a 3D effect. Previously it looked very flat.

Next I just play with the colours until I am happy with them. The photos I am working from show a rose with lovely shades of pink, red orange and yellow. I need to recreate these blended colours . I am also starting to layer up some of the texture on the petals. The rose is back-lit so the veins and structure of the petals stand out, as the light shines through them.

The next stage is just building on what I have been doing, I continue to add small dabs of paint to show the petal structure.  I an now using very small paintbrushes , sizes 1 and down to 000.  I have worked more white paint on to the petals to increase the feel of sunshine.

I have now completed my painting. I have finished the petal detailing, and adjusted the colours where needed. I have also completed the background with soft dabs of blue paint.


  1. what a lovely painting of a rose.

  2. This is very good. I hope you publish this one in your series of floral greetings cards. I have collected a lot of your designs. I really love your bright coloured paintings.

  3. This is a very helpful and informative article. Thank you.
    I wish I could paint like you do. I practice a lot but still struggle to get the realism like you do.
    I am enjoying your new blog and also regularly look at your other one, artycraftythings.