About this blog

WELCOME! My name is Ann Mortimer and I'm a professional watercolour artist and tutor from Nottingham, UK.

This is a "learn how to" and "problem solving" blog covering WATERCOLOUR TECHNIQUES.

You can look for things that interest you in the blog archive on the side bar when various topics have built up over time!

I'll be covering thing such as colour mixing, negative painting, using masking fluid, laying washes, painting water and all sorts of other things.

Friday, 9 August 2013

A step by step demo of some hedgerow dog roses

I haven't posted here for ages, hoping that what I had already put on the blog would keep people busy.  But now it's time for more information about techniques.
I have been posting on my facebook page,
but I know that very few of the people who follow my art are on facebook.
My page on facebook
So my apologies to those people who have seen this already on my facebook page.

(CLICK on the photos to enlarge)

During my June painting course in Derbyshire, I saw these dog roses growing near the studio where we were painting.  There was an abundance of flowers and we had sunny weather so I was able to photograph with cast shadows on them and lots of lovely contrast.

This photo inspired me as I saw the potential for creating depth as the sunlight was picking up some leaves and throwing the others into the background.  Also there was a lovely cast shadow over the flowers.  The shapes of the stamens were being thrown on to the lower petals.  I knew from experience that this would create impact in a finished painting and I just love sunlight effects.

It was quite easy to make a drawing from this photo, as it was almost a ready made composition.  I tried to overlap the roses a bit more and added two more buds in a better position.

I masked out the stamens and the buds, allowed this to dry and then laid a first wash over the whole page which I had wetted with clean water.  My first wash leaves quite a bit of the page uncovered by the paint.  These spaces , such as on the lower parts of the flowers will represent the very lightest sunlit parts.
I also made sure to drop plenty of yellow over the leaves which would then appear sunlit.  There's a lot of this sort of planning involved with this style of painting.

Below is the first wash in place and then my palette showing the colours I mixed for the first stage.

First wash stage 1

Palette with colours indicated.

The scene was now set for starting to put more sense of depth in the painting.  Below is the second stage.

I've outlined the flowers with the dark mixes and the main leaves by painting into the negative shapes.  I did  this by wetting an area around the flower and dropping in colours while outlining the shapes of the petals and leaves.  You can see that I have gone in again after the first washes were dry and outlined some underlying leaves with negative painting.  The flowers and buds are still untouched at this stage.

Stage 2 with the flowers and some leaves brought out with negative painting.

Next I started  painting the flowers by wetting each petal with clean water and dropping pinks only around the edge of the flower.  The colour seeps in to the centres but the main concentration of colour stays around the edges.
I have also started putting some vein details on the leaves.  I removed the masking on the buds.

Stage 3 

At stage 4 I have painted the buds looking carefully at the photograph.  I have also started some shading on the petals by using a blue/pink/touch of yellow mix.  This was mostly to give the flowers their cup shape.  But I didn't want to overdo the shadows at this stage as that would take away from the impact of the final cast shadows.

Stage 4 Buds painted and some shadow on the petals to show form.

I painted the cast shadows before taking the masking off the stamens.  I then took the masking off and after painting them with the yellows, I had to adjust them to show some in shadow.  The painting of the cast shadows over the leaves was done very quickly and almost with my eyes shut!  Just trying to get the sense of shadows being cast by one leaf on another closely following my reference photo.  It was an act of faith really but it seems to have come out ok.  I darkened the background top left and added more darks strategically to bring out the lightest parts of the flowers and leaves.

Final painting.  

I really enjoyed painting this.  Not easy!  A lot of planning involved.  I knew what I was aiming for and it worked this time.  Not always the case.  It helped that the flowers were a simple shape, because I had enough on trying to get the shadows and tones right without having complicated details to paint in the flowers.  Hope you enjoyed following me.  
I'd be pleased for you to have a go at painting it.  But best to treat it as an exercise and then try the same techniques on your own design, and that's what I'd love to see if you do have a go.

Thank you for reading this...Happy Painting!


  1. I would love to be able to paint like this just beautiful
    Thanks for the demo!!

  2. Great painting and a very good demo!

    1. Thank you for that lovely feedback Christina!


  3. Great step by step Ann, very informative and always so fascinating to see how other artists approach things, especially when they get such a lovely outcome!!

  4. Thanks Judith, what a nice comment! :)


  5. Beautiful, Ann, and I so enjoyed seeing the steps!

  6. Ann, thank you so much for your tips and tutorials. They are really helpful! Negative painting was quite difficult to me but thanks to you now it's so much easier. Yesterday I painted clematis and I'm happy with the result. I'm really glad that I found your blog and I can follow it. I really love your works, they are beautiful, very inspiring, colorful, I enjoy watching how you paint them. Thank you for sharing your technigue! (I'm sorry for my english if I made some mistakes). Greetings from Poland!

  7. You are welcome! And now Im following your tips and tutorials too.

    Exciting to find such fine work and you are modest too...so nice to see that in an artist.

    Good luck and good painting. Wish my Polish was as good as your English by the way!


  8. Lovely painting. I love your shadows. Carol

  9. awesome and so realistic. glad you are back.

  10. Thank you Janice...I will have to get make an effort to get here more often! Nice to know that people notice when I'm here, so thanks for taking the time to comment.


  11. Great little tutorial. its hard to imagine how that first image can turn into a great painting. thanks.


  12. I love this, I love dog roses too so a wonderful subject. A bit complicated for my skill level but I may have a go.

  13. Good to hear that Janice. Good luck!


  14. Great tutorial! How long did the painting take you?

    1. Hi Annelise, It probably took the best part of a day to complete.

  15. so much love your painting ma'am,can i follow your step?I love how you show your step by step tutorial

  16. like your blog and what you are showing like to invite you to follow my blog and invite other it just uploaded so there is not much but over time it will grow

  17. Hi Ann! Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful work and your tutorials!! I was wondering when you mention Winsor Blue, are you speaking about the green shade or the red shade. Trying to get my dark greens right, thanks!!

  18. Hi Tawny! I use Winsor blue red shade. If your green still seems too acid bright, add a touch of burnt sienna to make it a more natural green.

    Happy Painting!


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