Red Velvet

On the weekend my sister handed me a bouquet and said something like “I expect to see these painted”. I stared at the flowers for a few days, appreciating their beauty and also wondering how I would render, in watercolour, the deep red roses and contrasting green chrysanthemums. As I often do, especially after a break from painting for a few days, I painted the flowers twice. The first try just didn’t have the intensity of colour I hoped for (detail below) so I started again.


Starting with the roses, I approached the bouquet differently the second time round. This time, instead of starting with a light pink wash on the roses, I painted them deep red to begin with, hoping to capture some of their velvety texture. (I regret not taking a process photo of that first wash!). While that was still wet, I went into the flowers with even darker tones to show the shadow areas on the blooms. The second big shape was the pale green flowers which I kept separate in colour from the foliage. From there I painted the gerbera and then the rest of the leaves.

I’m glad I attempted this a second time because it was a great learning experience, but I have to end this with a note to my sister: Don’t stop bringing me flowers but next time, can you pick something easier to paint?




59 Comments on “Red Velvet”

  1. Christine Brown says:

    Wow. Great save. Christine


  2. Marie says:

    Love this post AND the paintings! Thanks for sharing!


  3. Mary says:

    Breathtaking! You hit the nail on the head, Sherry! I sighed out loud when I saw this beauty.


    • Hi Mary,
      Thanks so much. The reds I used are Permanent Alizarin Crimson as well as Organic Vermillion. For the darker reds I added Carbazole Violet and Ultramarine Blue to get that deep reddish purple.



  4. Mary says:

    Sherry – I forgot to ask – can you say something about which red(s) you used? And the greens – can you say how you got your greens? Thanks very much. I’m still bedazzled!


  5. Ineke van den Berg says:

    WOW, what an absolutly lovely painting! And thanks to your sister for the inspiration.


  6. DiniAlice says:

    Wow! Love that second attempt. Gives me encouragement for when I don’t like what is happening, I can always try another one.


  7. Bernadette says:

    The bouquet is gorgeous! Thanks too for sharing your first attempt on the roses. You continually teach us as you grow through the process of painting. I’m so glad to have found your blog!


  8. marclepine says:

    Beautiful deep red!
    What is the secret color(s)?


  9. ba317 says:

    I actually love the 1st one!!! It has a ‘quirkiness’ about them that makes me smile. I know you do ink work, what if you added some outlines in ink? Oh, I love the other piece too! And I hope your sister continues to send flowers too! ~Billie


    • Hi Billie, I think if I had finished the first one it would have come out fine too. But in my head I had a picture of something that was painted with deeper colours, so I had to do that. The ink would not work on this paper (Arches) because it’s too textured for my fine pens.


  10. ba317 says:

    I love the quirkiness of the 1st one! Maybe you should add your ink work to it?? Just a thought. I hope your sister continues to send flowers too!


  11. agnes bolley says:

    Beautiful Shari- I enjoy your blog very much – it is inspiring as you distil your technique . It would bw great to see your working process on a video. Have you thought about making time lapse videos on a Youtube channel? Cheers from from Down under. Agnes


    • Hi Agnes, thanks for writing. I have thought about making videos but I have a full-time teaching job. I barely have time to paint as it is, so adding video recording to that would send me over the edge. I suppose I could do it in the summer but then I travel and teach. But it is on my list for when I stop teaching one of these days.


  12. rosjenke says:

    Your blog is one I must visit even though I’m limiting my online time post eye surgery and difficulties. And I’m never sorry. This is stunning and those colours sing. Red roses are so difficult but you nailed them. Thanks for the lesson. 😉


  13. Rene Wojcik says:

    You pretty much nailed the second one. There is one thing you might try; use a light yellow under painting prior to using red….It will make the red really pop. I don’t know why it works but it does.


  14. John Hofman says:

    Very nice painting Shari; and you make it look so easy!


  15. i love the way working in the wet red allowed you to get the soft curve of the rose petals. And then later working drier you created transparent yet overlapping petals for the gerbera-nice!


  16. Dottie Aiken says:

    Beautiful! You always capture things so we’ll be it landscapes or flowers. Bet the flowers smelled better!?


  17. Missy Walsh-Smith says:

    Rich and beautiful!


  18. It’s wonderful to read your process while looking the whole time at your first attempt (and wondering if it was the first or final) and then to scroll down….. to see your final one — I was gobsmacked! Thanks for sharing your learning — you continue to inspire!


  19. gaelle1947 says:

    Just want to add my HURRAYS to all the other wonderful comments! I too have always found roses the most difficult flower to paint – Now you’ve motivated me to practice, practice, practice!!


  20. They are so beautiful, both of them — and so dimensional! Bravo to your sister for putting you to the challenge. She knows just what you need.


  21. Delphine says:

    I really like your bouquet, and I actually stopped to take a close look at the vase, which I find true and lively with just the nice level of abstraction. It’s the structural background that brings things altogether, I like that!
    My Maman, back in France, used to call flowers from the gender Saxifraga ” désespoir du peintre”, and I wondered why until I tried to sketch them…I guess saxifraga wouldn’t be a good choice in a bouquet for you 😀


  22. Judy Sopher says:

    Your flowers are always so wonderful. I too was surprised as I scrolled down. I can only agree with all that has been said. I just cannot paint flowers–and I try. Maybe a Craftsy course on flowers? A far cry from the course on the city.


  23. Monique says:

    She’s brought you flowers before:) I wish I could paint a real looking rose:)

    Shari..we were at Jean Talon a couple of weeks ago..there is an Instagrammer..La Marchande De Fleurs..(Binette et filles flower stall at the market)’s her trick for tulips..and it won’t get the floppy look I do love..but you will get tulips that stay poker straight and last at least 10 days(for me today..Costco ones).
    Buy them.. don’t cut the stems..put them in the smallest amount of cold cold water..just to cover the bottoms of the cold off w/ ice cubes every few days..

    Total opposite of my floppy technique.


  24. Dml says:



  25. janewright2017 says:

    Such a beautiful harbinger of spring.


  26. Suzanne says:

    The berry-type flowers, so clear and real, the top of those green-type flower-balls, the richness of the red roses, the just-right background – Shari, you created beauty from beauty. Thank you for sharing both.


  27. ChesapkLady says:

    And WOW! What a difference!


  28. Janine says:

    Amazing! (as usual :0)) This is such a great example of how to paint roses. Simplify the shapes and wet in wet. Really gorgeous.


  29. joantav says:

    You got such wonderful deep reds in the second one…just lovely!!!


  30. Mary says:

    Really like how the second one turned out. Good lesson in not giving up


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