Works in Progress

This page is provided to show how a design can change and develop from initial drawing through to completion.
Hopefully it will illustrate how I like to work. The page will be updated regularly to show one work in progress with an
archive of pdfs available below for those interested in my techniques.

Floral Bouquet (Florilegium), acrylic on canvas, 60 by 60 cm

1. I thought it was time I tackled a big floral, in acrylic as opposed to my usual watercolour for florals. So, stimulated by the traditional Dutch flower paintings, I decided to mix spring and summer for plenty of choice, gathering plenty of photo reference from my own garden, such as the peachy climbing rose ‘Compassion’, together with a friend’s gorgeous ‘Bowl of Beauty’ pink and cream peony roses. Firstly, I painted two coats of a ground colour, choosing a duck egg turquoise blue. Then I drew in pencil in full detail, as many large heads as I felt comfortable with to support the main composition, but filling in with honesty seed heads, feverfew, honeysuckle, dimorphotheca and buddleia etc.There is room for more, but enough was enough after all that detailed drawing. It was hard work, but the way I like to do it.

2. Next, painting commenced. In each large multi-petaled flower head, I block-filled each petal with two coats of the relevant colour to act as a base to being tonally painted. In this closeup, you can see the base coats of one of the cream and pink peony roses. I left tiny gaps between the petals, so I didn’t lose my drawing. These gaps were filled in when I added the darker tonal shading in richer colours afterwards.

3. This is where the painting is taking shape, with all large flower heads fully painted. It’s funny how your own tastes can become very evident when choosing subjects. I seem to have gravitated towards pinks and purples, so I run the risk of not enough contrast. This now will sit beside my desk and I’ll go back to it whenever I’m in the mood, while I can tackle other subjects in the meantime. I think it will need some leaves next to see where its going.

4. The draw of this canvas proved irresistible, so I wasn’t able to leave it for long.

I tackled the rose and peony leaves, then many more subjects were completed, with infilling daises, dimorphotheca and feverfew. I felt the purple and white tulips weren’t working as well I had hoped, so I chose another species instead and repainted them – the orange and red patterning echoes the honesty seedheads while providing more colour contrast in the centre of the bouquet, which it needed. I had to decide what to do with the bouquet at the base, so went for stems showing from the major components. It’s contrived rather than realistic, but I’m pleased with it, the only challenge being not to do too many as I love painting criss-crossing stems.

5. A close up. But what to do with all the gaps inbetween?

6. Well this was daunting for some reason, but I set about it, and it soon began to resolve itself. I added more rose leaves, more daisy leaves, then because this arrangement combines spring and summer, I decided to try some dark red primulas. You can spot then under the peach rose on the upper left. They help to add depth to the whole. I’m going to draw in another flower stem to fill the gap at the top, and have chosen a purple/blue campanula. After that, it will be time for the background again, where I plan to create shading from light to dark, working with tones of the existing base colour. That will be exciting!

7. Well, it wasn’t exactly exciting, more of a challenge and I had to decide how blended I wanted the colour gradations to be.I wanted the top to be lighter and the bottom to be darker, so that was my main guideline for myself. Beginning in the top left corner, I worked across the top, then worked across the base area, then it was a case of mixing many blending colours to bring the two tones together for the sides. The result is a more subtle background tone with more depth, which is what I was after. Finally, I added some wildlife, like you frequently see in Dutch flower paintings – a snail, a ladybird, a butterfly, a bee and two caterpillars. Even though this painting took a lot of time, I enjoyed it immensely and plan to do another one in the future.

Other works in progress as PDFs, small file sizes for easy download

Age of Elegance II

Carter Bar

Panther Lily

Monarch Butterfly

Victorian Pansies

Brown Hare

Blackies Patch

Bluebell Woodland


Poppy Field

Hello There


Ziggy maine coon

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