January Posy

January Posy

A couple of years ago I set myself the challenge of taking a photo of a floral arrangement I had made each month using my garden flowers. I’ve missed the challenge so I’m going to challenge myself to make a `Posy a month’ again.

Last time I used snowdrops for my January Posy. However this year there aren’t enough in bloom to sacrifice cutting for a posy. I’ve opted for primulas and violas. I had a lovely time in Country Market Antiques and Collectables at Chilton Garden Centre last week.  I was able to source vintage scent bottles and buy some plants for the garden at the same time. It’s my challenge so my rules are that I can buy new garden plants to use just as long as they end up planted in the garden after I’ve made my Posy!

Pretty pink posy It’s always pot luck what you find at vintage stalls. I was delighted with the two scent bottles I found together with a pretty ladies handbag mirror. The pink bottle was a bit of a challenge for flowers as it has such a small opening. However I think the few select pink primroses look very pretty with the addition of dainty maidenhair fern.  I chose the Adiantum spp. fern as it is a well known vintage house plant and was often used in bouquets in the Edwardian Era. It also brings out the green at the centre of the primula.


Maidenhair Fern by Ippy Patterson

illustration by Ippy Patterson


1912 smilax asparagus fern shower bouquet


Primula, primrose or polyanthus? 


The botanical name primula covers many different species including auriculas, primroses and polyanthus.  Primroses are derived from the native common yellow primrose (Primula vulgaris) and have lots of flowers on individual stems growing from the centre of the plant. Polyanthus (meaning ‘many flowers’) have a thick stalk with a bunch of flowers on it. My January Posy therefore includes flowers which can be called either primroses or primula but not polyanthus.

Primrose PosyVintage Handbag mirror

My other find was a crystal scent bottle. I was quite pleased with this as the opening was a bit larger for flowers.

January Viola Posy

I do like dainty violas in a pot outside the front door. They really are pretty, frilly and feminine flowers. For some reason I don’t like a pansy! Pansies seem to me to be the bigger, brasher elder brothers of the viola. I came to appreciate the markings and intricate details of violas when I painted this detailed watercolour using one of Anna Mason’s watercolours with wow tutorials.  If you fancy having a go at painting flowers in watercolour I highly recommend Anna’s course.

Anna Mason Viola Tutorial

Having finished the tutorial I went on to paint my own garden Viola purple picotee.

Viola Purple Picotee

Vintage Violas

January Posy



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Vintage Weddings -1970s

1970 Bible Posy Watercolour - Patsy Smiles

Dilys Katherine Hills and David Millard Jennings – 30 March 1970

I’m fascinated by my mum’s choice of wedding flowers and wedding dress in the 1970s. The Era brings to mind barefooted bohemian brides wearing floaty maxi dresses with loose long hair decorated with a floral crown or daisy chain. The Hippy Culture that began in the previous decade continued to be popular at the beginning of the 70s, but began to wane as rock `n’ roll and disco became influential. My mum was a rebel. She had left home at a young age and had lived an `alternative lifestyle’ which wasn’t approved of by her mother. The years before the wedding mum had been sleeping rough, mixing with drug addicts and alcoholics whilst having a lot of fun. (I was born the year before the wedding!). Why then did mum choose a very traditional white church wedding and opt for a bible corsage as a wedding bouquet?!

1970s Wedding

The Marriage Act of 1836 allowed for non-religious civil marriages to be held in register offices. It puzzles me that mum chose a church wedding instead of a registry office or even eloping to Gretna Green. I will never know for sure. There may have been pressure from parents to `conform’, but I don’t think that was the reason. My adoption records show that mum was working hard at maintaining a job to look after me and turning her life around. I think the church wedding was symbolic. Mum needed to prove to the authorities that she was fit and able to look after me and a proper church wedding was a good start. My foster father was best man at the wedding. They were married in St George’s Church, West Harnham which was the local church to where mum grew up.

St George's Church, West Harnham

1970s Wedding Flowers 

My mum chose pretty traditional flowers for her bridesmaids.  Christine, the elder bridesmaid, had a neat round Spring Posy Bouquet including peach coloured hyacinth pips and coral spray roses with a small amount of asparagus fern. The individual flowers were wired and mounted. The finished handle would have been ribboned and completed with a small bow.

1970s Wedding

The children are carrying Bridesmaid’s Baskets of flowers typical of the 1970s. The flowers in the baskets are quite minimal – a sprig of freesia, two carnations and a piece of asparagus fern,. The flowers were pushed into floral foam as in some pictures I can see the oasis. In the Constance Spry Handbook of Floristry the advice is that `the flowers should be placed in very firmly so that there is no likelihood of their falling out, even with rough handling by the bridesmaid!’ I can’t decide if flowers have fallen out with rough treatment or mum made the baskets herself with just a few token flowers. Constance Spry advised that the basket should be filled with flowers to about 1/2 inch from the top in a pleasing shape. There is a dainty bow placed on the handle.

Bible or Prayerbook Spray

Mum opted for an unusual Bible Spray instead of a bouquet or posy. This consisted of a small spray of flowers and leaves stitched onto a ribbon, which in turn acted as a bookmark in the Bible or prayerbook for either the marriage ceremony or the Lord’s Prayer. Mum chose to use flowers in a an orange, coral and yellow colour palette. She included coral spray roses, hyacinth pips and yellow freesia. Foliage was made up of asparagus fern and ivy leaves. The ribbon was a bright turquoise blue and co-ordinated with the bridesmaids dresses. I had fun making my own interpretation of the Bible Spray and then painting my version in watercolour. It was out of season for hyacinth pips so I went for the overall look rather than an exact replica.


Buttonholes and Corsages

Carnation Buttonhole

The men in the bridal party are all wearing traditional wired white carnation button-holes. Carnations were chosen because they were widely available and had good lasting qualities. In this case there was no foliage. Whenever possible a buttonhole flower was worn through the buttonhole and not pinned onto the front of the lapel. For this reason the flower stem needed to be very fine so the flower heads were mounted on taped wire to provide a thinner stem.  Sometimes Asparagus plumosus fern was used or three leaves made into a spray. Nowadays the groom’s button-hole often includes a flower from the bride’s bouquet to distinguish the groom from the rest of the bridal party. In the 1970s there was less individuality – all the men had the same white carnation buttonholes including the groom.

1970s Wedding Group

1970s Carnation Button Hole


1970s Carnation Button-hole

The mothers of the bride and groom traditionally wore a ladies corsage spray and my grandparents are both wearing corsages with a selection of different flowers. The bride’s mother’s vibrant corsage includes orange spray roses, yellow freesia and asparagus fern and stood out against her navy suit. The mother of the groom’s corsage is daintier incorporating hyacinth pips. Both ladies are wearing flowers on their left shoulder, although traditionally Ladies were always right!

1970s Corsage
1970s Corsage

1970s Wedding Fashion

The 70s was a time when no particular bridal fashion dominated the era. You can see an eclectic mix of bridal fashion in 70s photos. Mum made her own full length wedding dress and Christine’s bridesmaids dress. Although a traditional white wedding dress it does have billowed `leg o’ mutton’ sleeves which were a key bridal look of the period. The look is actually quite demure and covered up, particularly as mum had been fond of the 60s mini skirt. So different to fashion today where it is hard to find a wedding dress with sleeves.

1970s Wedding

Mum chose to wear an elbow length veil with artificial white flowers in her hair. The veil length is shorter than my Gran’s 1930s veil which was full length. Some brides preferred to wear floppy hats or bohemian style floral crowns or circlets.

The overall colour scheme was quite a bold 70s colour scheme using the complementary colours of coral orange and turquoise blue. Mum wore quite bright blue eyeshadow.

1970s Colour Scheme

1970 Wedding

1970 Bible Posy

I find it fascinating that I also chose peach and aqua as my wedding colour scheme. Mum’s half sister who never met mum also chose to wear turquoise on her wedding day! Kathryn’s turquoise 70s wedding dress is much more prairie style with ruffles and she’s opted for a hat instead of a veil.

1970S WeddingPrairie Style gowns were popular as evidenced by sewing patterns of the 70s.

1970s Wedding Styles

Vogue Bridal Design Pattern 1970s

Bohemian styles with longer cascading sleeves were in vogue. Necklines tended to be square in shape or higher as worn by my mum and Princess Anne during her wedding to Captain Mark Phillips in 1972. Princess Anne’s gown was based on a medieval design with trumpet sleeves edged in pearls and a train.

Princess Anne 1972

The 70s bride was not afraid of colour or pattern. I’ve found many an example where bridesmaids seem to be decked out in bold, highly patterned material reminiscent of vintage curtains!

1970s Wedding Hats

1970s Bold Colour Scheme

Big floppy hats were all the range. I really can’t image why mum chose to put her bridesmaids in those bright turquoise bonnets covered in artificial flowers! However bonnets in the style of Little Bo-Peep and Holly Hobbie were in vogue. I guess they completed the milkmaid/peasant look nicely!

1970s Colour Scheme

1970s Bonnet

1970s bonnet pattern

Not everybody opted for a long flowing wedding dress in the 70s. When Bianca married Mick Jagger in 1971 she opted for  an Yves Saint Laurent tailored blazer, midi skirt and floppy hat.  Nothing was worn underneath the jacket!

Bianca Jagger 1971

The 60s had inspired the mini-skirt so some brides chose to stick with the mini and a simpler more tailored look as worn to this registry office wedding.

1970s Registry Wedding

Wedding Transport

The bride travelled to the church in her brother’s dark green Mark II Jaguar. My Uncle remembered touching up the paintwork the day before and his housemates said he was `guilding the lily’. It felt quite symbolic when my Uncle gave me away as he had my mum and we also travelled to the ceremony in a Mark II Jaguar.

Jaguar Mark II

Jaguar Mark II

1970 Wedding

Patsy Smiles

Wedding Breakfast

From the wedding group photograph it looks like mum had a similar number of guests as both myself and my Gran which was about forty.

1970 Wedding Group Shot

The reception was held in the church hall which looks like a rather ugly prefabricated building. It was a simple affair. There were no formal laid out tables with a seating plan. It was a case of standing around and circling, helping yourself to the `cold buffet’. The buffet consisted largely of sandwiches, sausage rolls and the 70s favourite of cheese and pineapple on sticks. There was a traditional two tier iced fruit wedding cake which was topped with a small spray of freesias in a pretty silver bud vase. I remember the bud vase.

1970s Wedding Cake

Wedding Present List 1970

I still have mum’s wedding present list tucked amongst the photos. I love this kind of social history. There are quite a few similarities with my Gran’s 1930s wedding presents and the ones we had in 2011. We all were given casseroles, bath towels and cutlery.

1970 Wedding Presents

1970s Wedding List

They were eight casseroles! We were given a wonderful cast iron Le Creuset casserole by Margaret and David which has proved invaluable. Margaret went to school with mum and had given one of those eight casseroles in 1970 so I wonder if it was used as much with so many to chose from! It’s quite interesting that the pyrosil casseroles are listed separately. The Pyrosil Corning Ware Blue Cornflower oven to table dish with it’s detachable handle was used for over twenty years! It was used both on the top of the stove and in the oven. My guess is that was the only casserole that was used out of the eight!

Pyrosil Corningware Cornflower

These days I don’t think you’d give an ash tray as a wedding gift. However my Gran was given a Turkish cigarette holder.

The wedding breakfast finished mid afternoon when the Happy Couple drove away on honeymoon to the West Country. Although mum wore traditional white for the ceremony she was quite happy to wear a fashionable mini skirt and boots as her Going Away Outfit. The honeymoon was a weekend in the West Country where it was perishing cold with March winds and snow.

1970 Going Away Outfit

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Cheerful Concentration!

Patsy Smiles ArtistI recently needed a new Professional Portrait of myself. I wanted photographs which would show me in my best light and I knew just the man for the job. Who better than our Wedding Photographer?!  Steve Hicks, otherwise known as Squib Photography, did a brilliant job of our wedding photography. He was able to capture those all important moments of our wedding day which we will cherish. We really are smiling in all our wedding photographs and Steve managed to capture those tears of joy without being intrusive.

Mr and Mrs Smiles

Steve and I had fun back in December capturing me at work as an artist and then as a nature photographer. My brief to Steve was to show that I live up to my name and that the photos should be light, bright and cheerful! I think he succeeded!

Patsy Smiles – Artist at Work

PS (4)

Memory Lane BouquetPS (23)Patsy Smiles ArtistPS (25)PS (2)-1

Patsy Smiles – Nature Photographer

I must admit it was the depths of Winter and little was in bloom in the garden where we were shooting. I managed to spot this pretty Viburnum shrub with clusters of small, fragrant flowers which fade from pink to white.  There are very few outdoor plants that flower from Autumn through to Spring and this pretty pink Viburnum was enchanting. I thought I’d include my shots of the pink flower clusters for you to see.

Patsy Smiles PhotographerViburnumViburnum

ViburnumPS (38)-1

So there we have it – cheerful, concentration!

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Memory Lane

Memory Lane Bouquet


I’m working on a new Wedding Inspired Watercolour of this beautiful bouquet of vintage style roses and I thought I’d share with you the process I go through to achieve the end result.

When I get a commission I firstly try to find out as much about the flowers in the bouquet as I can. It really helps me achieve accurate colours in my finished painting. Even with professional photographs flower colours can vary immensely under different lighting conditions. Amy’s beautiful bouquet was created by Bumlebeez Florist in Cheltenham.

Vintage Inspired Wedding Roses

Amy chose a vintage inspired bouquet of dusky lilac pink roses. Roses remain one of the most popular choice of flowers for weddings. There are hundreds of varieties, they come in most colours and are available all year. I chose big, blowsy avalanche roses in my bouquet which were in a Spring Colour Palette of peaches and creams.

Amy had a different colour scheme of pinks and purples. Pink Sweet Avalanche Roses worked equally well in each bouquet. Avalanche roses are big, blowsy flowers with Sweet Avalanche being the pink form. They start out as pale pink flowers with a hint of green around the outer petals. As the flower head opens the green hue fades and turns candy floss pink.

Sweet Avalanche Pink Rose

Memory Lane is a medium headed dusky pink rose with a hint of lavender. It is popular with vintage themed weddings.

Memory Lane Rose


Memory Lane Roses





Amnesia is another antique looking lilac rose with accents of beige and green.

Amnesia Rose                                                                             Amnesia Roses




Filler Flowers and Foliage

Brides often overlook Filler flowers and foliage. These are what fill in the spaces between the focal points of a flower arrangement. They are often subtle and blend into the background. Small, clustered flowers can help blend the colours of the other flowers in a bouquet together.  Fillers enable you to stay on budget allowing you to allocate funds for more expensive flowers or keep the cost down. Examples include Baby’s Breath, Wheat, Heather, Hypericum berries, ivy and poppy seed heads. My florist used jasmine leaves in mine. However I would have preferred foliage which was less structured and more loose and natural, like a freshly picked bunch of garden flowers.

Amy’s Memory Lane Bouquet includes clusters of snowberries as a filler. Symphoricarpos, (common name snowberry) has small clusters of of pink flowers in Summer. It is usually grown for its elegant white berries that it produces in Autumn. The berries come in shades of white, cream and blush pink. I think they look beautiful in Amy’s Autumn Bouquet. Snowberries are also worth bearing in mind if you are getting married in the Autumn and want a delicate colour scheme rather than including brash, bold red and orange berries.

Other fillers worth considering are foliage with an aromatic scent. Herbs are a unique addition adding scent and texture for example you could include rosemary, mint or lavender.  Amy chose to include seeded Eucalyptus. This has attractive green foliage and has a very aromatic smell.

Detail of Bouquet

Fillers can also be used to provide an accent of colour. Amy’s main colour scheme was purple. However she wanted a dainty, pretty pastel bouquet rather the drama provided by deep purple flowers. Bumblebeez florist therefore suggested including accents of Purple Veronica.  Veronica is made up of a tall and narrow spike of little florets that are larger and more colourful at the base and grow smaller and fade to green at the tip. These flowers can be white, purple and pink and are available all year round. The veronica works really well in this bouquet. The shape provides a good contrast to the rounder shaped roses and the purple colour gives an accent of colour which would pick up the colour of a purple bridesmaid dress wonderfully.


Once I had gathered as much information as I could about the flowers I then decided on my composition. I had been given several photos of the bouquet. The photos included the Wedding Cake which was a gorgeous 3 tiered chocolate cake decorated with edible rose decorations which were exact replicas of the roses in the bouquet. The purple ribbon matched the purple veronica. One photo of the bouquet showed in part a piece of jewellery which had been sewn onto the ribbon wrapping the stems to form a handle. The vintage necklace had been the bride’s grandmothers so was quite sentimental and included her grandmother in her wedding day.  I had to decide whether to include the cake and the blue necklace. It was a big decision. I wanted to include both the cake and the necklace. However  I decided the bouquet was beautiful enough. If I included the cake and the bouquet the painting would have no point of focus. Was the focus of the painting going to be the cake or the bouquet? If I wanted to make the cake the main focal point I needed to paint the cake in it’s entirety and centre it in the middle of the page. The cake stands up so tall that the bouquet would almost disappear in a painting.  I also felt that dark chocolate brown was not going to be a good colour in a watercolour painting. My paintings are quite delicate which works well for flowers. I felt that the dark brown would take over the picture and dominate too much. However I did draw the bouquet giving me enough room on the paper in case I changed my mind! I also considered painting two pictures – 1 of the cake and 1 of the bouquet.  I sadly felt that the photo with the piece of jewellery did not do the flowers justice as you could see more of the stems and less of the flowers than in the other one as the bouquet was side on to the camera. The way the necklace dangled meant I didn’t quite have enough detail to work from. This view also meant the focus was on the back of the cake so the beautiful sugar flower decorations were hidden.

Wedding Bouquet and CakeMemory Lane BouquetMemory Lane Bouquet


A good detailed drawing is vital in this kind of painting. If the drawing isn’t right then good painting skills will never make up for a bad drawing. A lot of my other work is much looser and drawn completely free hand. When I go on holiday I keep a sketch book where I draw solely in ink and directly on to the page. This has a completely different quality. It’s not always accurate or with perfect perspective, but it does have a fresh, vibrancy. For this more Botanical work accuracy is needed. I get the photo up on a large computer screen and make the bouquet picture the size I want to draw. I then draw a boundary line on my page and work to the same proportions measuring against the screen as I go. It was difficult to know where to start on this drawing as there was so much detail to get in. I started with the snowberries. Where one berry touched and butted up to another I took  an exact measurement to orientate this point on the page. The berry could then be drawn freehand when I had a few specific points measured. Once the berries were drawn it was easier to slot the roses in. The whole drawing took me 5.5 hours!

Detail of sketch

Detailed Bouquet Drawing






The Colour Purple

The next stage in the process is to think about the exact colours in the painting. I started by painting the purple veronica flowers. Before I put any paint on my drawing I always play around with my paints to find the exact hue I need. It helps that I love flowers and have already researched the colour of each individual bloom in the bouquet. Sometimes I even buy a specific flower from the florist to refer to. I have a reference sketch book full of my mixed secondary colours – purples, greens and oranges. This is invaluable. It is perfectly possible to make purple from red and blue. However I have found that in Botanical Painting you need to buy some pinks and purples as it is impossible to mix exactly the right colour from a red and blue. Holbein’s Bright Violet is a really lovely vibrant purple. It is redder than Winsor & Newton’s Winsor Violet. Winsor & Newton’s Cobalt Violet is more milky and lilac in colour.  I then mix these ready made purples to make an infinite amount of different shades of violet, purple, lavender, lilac and pink.

Holbein Bright Violet Chart (Reds)
Holbein Bright Violet Chart (Reds)
Holbein Bright Violet Chart (Blues)
Holbein Bright Violet Chart (Blues)


Winsor & Newton Cobalt Violet Chart
Winsor & Newton Cobalt Violet Chart

Apart from purple I was going to need to mix green for the Veronica flowers. I experimented with mixing my colours in a rough sketch book. The idea is that this isn’t a perfect painting, but a chance to mess around with colour and experiment. I also make notes about the properties of paint. I found that Cerulean Blue would create fantastic textured effects, but didn’t have the boldness of Winsor Blue. My sketchbook is a chance to play around and find the exact shade I need. In the shadows I found I needed to dull the purple down with Paynes Grey or a blue red such as Alizarin Crimson. For the green part of the Veronica flowers I needed a fresh lime green. I needed to use a cool yellow mixed with a cool blue.

Playing with Colour


I experimented with Winsor Lemon which is on the cool side (no red in it) and various blues. I thought Cerulean blue was good if I wanted textured foliage. French Ultramarine looked a good choice, but I found it made an olive green which was too dull. Winsor Blue and Winsor Yellow made the most vibrant fresh green.

Winsor Lemon Greens Chart
Winsor Lemon Greens Chart


Winsor & Newton Yellows
Cool to Warmer Yellows

After all that experimentation it was time to get paint on my paper!

The first stage involved pale watery washes on all the veronica flowers. I allowed myself to be slightly loose with a wet on wet style at this point. In later stages the paint will be less watery onto dry paper. Wetting the paper first allows the different hues to run into each other and blend on the paper which creates interesting textures. However I made sure the greens didn’t run into the purples as my experimentation showed that this would turn the colour brown. I also added a very pale purple wash on a few of the roses using paint I had mixed for the veronica flowers and a bit of the watery green on some of the snowberries.

1st Wash on Veronica Flowers

Veronica DetailThe veronica flowers are far from finished. However I am now planning to move onto my first pale wash on the roses. I will take each type of rose in turn starting with the pink Sweet Avalanche Roses as I fancy getting to grips with the various shades of pink in the painting next.

Sweet Avalanche



I started by having a good look at the colours of the flowers in my reference photos. Sweet Avalanche roses are a fresh pink with a peach hue in contrast with the other roses which are more dusky pink and lilac. I needed to use red hues biased towards yellow rather than blue to contrast with the other pinky-lilac roses later.  Fresh pinky-reds can not be mixed from a primary red, so ready made pinks are crucial when painting flowers. I find my Winsor & Newton Hand Painted Artists Watercolour Chart invaluable.

Winsor Reds


I chose to use Rose Dore which is a delicate transparent warm peach-red pigment. It is difficult to produce a deep highly saturated colour with Rose Dore so this red wouldn’t work for my vivid red roses in my Ruby Red Bouquet. However Rose Dore is a beautiful pigment for delicate peachy, pink flowers. Where I wanted a coral colour I mixed Rose Dore with Indian Yellow.  The other red I chose to use was Quinacridone Red which is a vivid, highly transparent pigment. It produces a pure central red for colour mixing, neither too blue nor too yellow and worked well for the pure pink areas of the roses. I favour transparent pigments due to their translucent properties keeping flower colours fresh and bright. You may find my Blog Post `Ruby Red Bouquet‘ interesting as I included a detailed description of various red pigments.

Winsor & Newton Reds

For the roses I used a Gradated wash technique – wet on dry.  I mixed a fairly watery wash of the red pigments and applied to the rose petals following the contours of the petal. With a soft clean damp brush I pulled the colour out creating a lighter band of colour. This process was repeated until the colour faded into the white of the paper creating a gentle gradient of tone. Using a damp brush prevents hard edges from forming where they are not wanted.

`Work in Progress' captured by Squib Photography
`Work in Progress’ captured by Squib Photography


Work in ProgressThe rose petals became beiger in the shadows. I therefore added a very small amount of French Ultramarine blue to my reds to make a shadow colour.

The outer petals of the Sweet Avalanche Roses are quite green in colour – a fresh, Spring Green. I observed this colour previously when I painted White Avalanche Roses in my `Simple White Bouquet‘ painting.  For the green colour I used Olive Green  and also a mixture of Winsor Blue and Winsor Yellow. I was careful to paint the green after the pinky- peach had dried as I didn’t want the pink rose petals to turn to mud. This is very important with flowers. You don’t want the petals of a flower to look too brown or they will look past their best.

Sweet Avalanche

Sweet AvalancheSweet AvalancheI continued to build up colour by overlaying glazes. Glazing is a technique where one thin wash of colour is applied over another. Transparent colours work best as the white surface of the watercolour paper shines through and the colours stay fresh. Before overlaying any more glazes I rubbed out my pencil marks depicting the Sweet Avalanche roses. These were no longer needed and I didn’t want the pencil lines to show on the finished painting.

The next stage involved painting the pink Memory Lane Roses. Which red pigments did I decide to use?

Memory Lane Rose

 Memory Lane Roses have a vibrant pink edge, but are dusky pink/lavender at the centre. This prompted me to consider how `vintage style, dusky roses’ can be conveyed in watercolour. What does dusky mean?! Does it mean pale and pastel coloured? I think it means unsaturated with a hint of grey. Some of the blooms look tinged with beige. Does this make them look slightly antique in style, because they are tinged with beige? It was a dilemma. Whenever I have painted a pale flower with beige hues it has looked gone over, if not dead! I decided to convey the effect of vintage roses with very pale washes of a pinky lavender colour with a hint of blue or Payne’s Grey to dull the colour down. This would contrast nicely with the sugar plum pink of the Sweet Avalanche Roses and wouldn’t go too brown.  

Memory Lane Sketchbook Exercises

I experimented with mixing pinks and lilacs and attempting to convey `dusky’ and `vintage’ but not murky in my sketchbook.  I  found that the brighter pink edge worked well with a mix of Quinacridone Magenta and Opera Rose. Permanent Carmine was good too although more orange red. For the dusky lavender pink I rejected Winsor Violet as too cold and blue. Holbein Bright Violet and Winsor Cobalt Violet worked well mixed with various amounts of French Ultramarine and a touch of Paynes Grey. Cobalt Violet and Rose Dore gave a more dusky peachy pink effect. I concluded from my sketchbook that there are different ways of mixing paints to achieve similar hues. 

I found my sketchbook exercises invaluable in the next stage of my painting . For the dusky lilac Memory Lane Roses I used a mix of Quinacridone Magenta and Opera Rose for the bright pink edges. On closer observation I found the edges had a vivid orange hue so added a bit of Schminke Translucent Orange. Where I wanted the rose petals to be slightly beige I added some Olive Green to the mix. I enjoyed playing around mixing Cobalt Violet with Olive Green and a tiny amount of Payne’s Grey to create a dusky lavender. I also did the same exercise with Quinacridone Magenta. I know from experience that the Memory Lane Roses in the photos are more pink than they should be. These blooms have more of a lilac hue at the centre. I also wanted to make sure these roses contrasted with the more candy pink roses. 

Cobalt Violet and Olive Green Chart
Cobalt Violet and Olive Green Chart
Quinacridone Magenta Colour Mixing Chart
Quinacridone Magenta Colour Mixing Chart

I painted the lightest areas first and then added the dark tones. The next stage I worked on the mid tones.  I then found the contrast of the outer petals with the brightest pink hues a bit much, but I knew that would settle down when I came back and re-worked the other roses.  

Memory Lane Roses

Memory Lane Roses

Memory Lane Roses

The next stage was to look at the third rose `Amnesia.‘ 

Amnesia Rose

Amnesia is another antique looking lilac rose with accents of beige and green. If I wasn’t careful I was likely to make this rose look very muddy with her accents of beige! I’d been there before with white roses. It is hard to make sure flowers with a beige hue look fresh and not gone over!

I started by using my trusty sketchbook to experiment with mixing colours again. I was wanting to find a different lilac hue to the Memory Lane Rose. I found it really useful to print out part of the image and stick it in my sketchbook. I was then able to experiment with mixing paints to find the exact hue I needed. 

Amnesia Rose Colours

I experimented with 2 purple hues for the centre of the flowers –  Holbein Bright Violet and Winsor and Newton Cobalt Violet. The Holbein is very vivid and needed to be toned down. I found that adding Rose Dore, Raw Sienna or Olive Green in varying amounts gave me a more muted slightly pinker hue. Cobalt Violet is an equally bright hue but softer and not such a bully! It granulates which means you have to mix it a lot to stop it separating from other hues. I found it mixed well with Raw Sienna and Olive Green too. The Holbein worked best in the shadow area mixed with Payne’s Grey to make a really deep shadow colour. I noticed the outer petals of the rose were much more creamy beige with a slight green tinge. I used more of the Raw Sienna and Olive Green for these petals.  

Amnesia RosesAmnesia Roses

Whilst I was mixing greens for the rose I kept in mind the hues I would need for the green snow berries and the leaves. Some of the berries were an earthy beige green. The Olive Green and Raw Sienna were good as they are earth colours. However some of the other berries were a much brighter and clean green. For this mix I used Winsor Lemon and French Ultramarine. The leaves required a bluer green which contrasted with the earthy Olive Green already used. I found Cerulean Blue was a good blue to use with the Raw Sienna. The fresher stems needed the brighter mix of Winsor Lemon and French Ultramarine. I played around with colours on the white berries. The berries seemed to be made up of various colours reflected off the flowers – I spotted lilac, pink, beige,green and grey. 

Most of my painting had some colour on it at this stage. Now it was time to go back to the beginning and add more tone to the flowers I started with. Looking at my painting as a whole it was now obvious the pink Sweet Avalanche Roses and the Purple Veronica needed a lot more work. 

Ist steps for all the roses

At last the whole bouquet was coming together! I thought my purple veronica flowers were slightly psychedelic. They were also looking quite dark in places, but they were in reality so I  trusted my observational skills and went with the colours I could see! I was amazed at the number of subtle hues in the white snowberries. I  spotted pink, purple, beige, green. grey etc etc. I also discovered  Davy’s Grey as a pigment.  It is much softer and delicate than Paynes Grey and worked well where I wanted a bit of soft shadow, but didn’t want to lose the prettiness of the flowers. 

Memory Lane Bouquet

Finally the painting was finished! This was a massive project which took hours and hours of work. However the bride was so pleased with her painting which made it worth every minute of my time. I chose to mount the finished painting with a purple border to bring out the purple in the painting. Amy had also had accents of purple in her wedding colour scheme. I hope you enjoyed seeing the process I go through to create a bespoke bouquet watercolour.

Memory Lane

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Autumn Bridal Fairs 2013


Wedding Themed Original Watercolours



Would you like an original keepsake of your wedding? Being passionate about flowers I love painting Bridal Bouquets which convey the delicacy and beauty of each bloom with my paintbrush. I also paint other commemorative details such as the wedding cake, a favourite piece of jewellery or the table decorations.


All images are double-mounted in your colour scheme so you can frame them yourself.

Catherine's Bouquet


To get the best possible result I need to work from high quality photographs with plenty of detail.


If you would like to see examples of the work I have created for brides or have a chat to discuss your ideas then come along to the following Oxfordshire Wedding Fairs, where I will be exhibiting some of my work:


  • JackFM & The Bridal Network at Cotswold Lodge Hotel, 66a Banbury Road, Oxfordshire, OX2 6JP on Sunday 22nd September, 12 – 3pm.
  • The Baytree Hotel, Sheep Street, Burford, Oxfordshire, OX18 4LW on Sunday 20th October, 12 – 4pm.

Baytree Hotel Conservatory

Bridal Network Logo

Sujinan's Bouquet FramedSunshine Bouquet








   I am passionate about weddings and bridal flowers. I should have been a florist! As an artist I love the way colour can be used in so many imaginitive ways  in Wedding Colour Themes. For inspiration check out my Wedding Themed Boards on Pinterest. I regularly add images to my Pin Boards including ideas for flowers, the dress, bridal favours and Wedding Cakes.

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Ruby Red Bouquet



img507Painting this wonderful vibrant red bouquet was quite a challenge. My local florist Fabulous Flowers provided me with the image which appeared in Wedding Flowers Magazine. It is a beautiful hand-tied bouquet of `Piano’, `Ruby Red’ and `Black Baccara’ roses together with `Rubicon’ spray roses.

The first thing I do before I get my paintbrush out or start to draw is to study the flowers in the photograph in detail and find out as much information as I can about them. Understanding the general structure of a flower is important. Although I am not a botanical flower painter observing the shape and form of each bloom at the outset pays dividends later. Sometimes I even buy an example of each flower to work from. I have heard it said that `drawing should be 80% looking and 20% moving the pencil’. Whilst studying the bouquet what really struck me was the fabulous variety of reds. I knew that in my painting it would be vital to mix exactly the right colour red for each bloom.

What I like about this bouquet is the strong contrast between the Black Baccara roses and the other brighter roses. True black coloured roses don’t exist. The closest you can get to black are Black Baccara and Black Magic. Both roses are long stemmed hybrid tea roses. Black Baccara has the darkest coloured roses. While it is not truly black it has a beautiful velvety rich deep-red colour. Black Magic is also a dark red or burgundy colour, but not quite as dark.

With Black Baccara being so dark a brighter red rose in contrast gives more dimension to the bouquet. Piano roses are medium sized, dark red on the outside and lighter red on the inside. They open beautifully into a perfect deep cup similar to peonies in look and are often used to subsitute when peonies are out of season. Ruby Red roses are vibrant red blooms. The Rubicon Spray roses add an extra dimenson of colour with the green foliage of the bud.

To be honest before I painted this bouquet I wasn’t keen on red roses! I would rather be given a bouquet of country garden style flowers or cheerful yellow roses for Valentines day than the traditional deep red rose.  I have been pondering why I wasn’t keen on red roses and I think it is the shade of red. I am drawn to cheerful Spring like colours and these are also the colours that suit me. I really don’t like dull burgundy red as it reminds me of school uniforms! However I do like poppy and scarlet red.


The Hidden Meaning behind the Colour of Roses

Red Roses

The red rose is the ultimate symbol of romantic love and enduring passion. Red roses are ancient symbols of love  and have long been associated with romance. The poet Robert Burns once wrote “my love is like a red, red Rose, that’s newly sprung in June”.




Yellow Roses In Victorian times the yellow rose was a symbol of jealousy. Today yellow represents friendship, joy and caring. A bouquet of sunshine-filled blooms conveys warmth and affection. Maybe that is why I like them so much. In our wedding vows my husband and I promised to care, respect and cherish each other.  Yellow roses seem to convey these promises.


White RosesThe white rose represents purity and innocence. It is often referred to as the Bridal Rose and conveys a sense of new beginnings.




Pink RosesThe pink rose is youthful and symbolizes gentility, femininity and elegance. Pink is considered the colour of happiness and is often considered as lighthearted and fun.



Orange RosesThe orange rose is fun and flamboyant and radiates warmth and energy.

Orange flowers are often used as a symbol of enthusiasm, endurance and confidence.


The Colour Red

When I was deciding how to paint this image of  `Ruby Red’ Bouquet I concluded that the most important aspect to convey was the colour `red’. What makes the bouquet work is the deep dark red of the Baccara roses contrasted against the vivid scarlet roses. The image is all about the colour red. Usually my primary concern is to choose watercolour pigments which are transparent and convey the luminosity of each bloom. This time I decided that it was more important to get the colour right. I was prepared to sacrifice transparency to get the right colour.

I have enjoyed exploring the concept of  the colour `red’. There are so many words which  can be used to convey a sense of `redness’ – crimson, scarlet, poppy, rust, ruby,maroon and burgundy are just a few. There was an excellent radio programme with Stephen Fry on the language of colour last year – Fry’s English Delight. It explored how we developed words to describe colour.  There is an emotional language behind colour. On the programme David Hockney said `We all see colour differently. We see with memory and emotion.’  I definately have an emotional response to the colours used to describe redness. I am drawn to warm red colours – crimson, scarlet and poppy. It is an emotional response. The colours remind me of summer fields of poppies and brilliant sunsets which give me a feeling of warmth and happiness.  On the other hand I dislike maroon and burgundy. The words remind me of shabby dull school uniforms! However my emotional response would be different if I thought of rich, deep, luxurious velvet or a fine red wine!  To other people `poppy red’ symbolises war and death.

I love exploring colour and the attributes of each of my paint pigments. There are three  properties to color. First is hue, which simply means the name we give to a color e.g. red, yellow or blue. The second property of colour is the intensity or saturation. This refers to the strength and vividness of a colour. The red hues in my bouquet image are all very intense and highly saturated. We have a striking scarlet red and a strong intense dark red. Neither colour is dull or grayed.  The third property of colour is its value meaning its lightness or darkness. The term shade or tint refer to value changes in colour. Some pigments can be applied very intensely or darkly other pigments will always be pale in colour. Sometimes I convert a painting to monochrome to check if I have the values and correct range of tones.

Another aspect I considered when choosing my red pigments to paint with was whether the hue could be described as warm or cool. Warm reds lean towards orange or yellow. Cool reds lean towards purple or blue. In my bouquet picture we have the warm scarlet reds and the darker cooler reds of the Baccara roses.

I experimented producing colour charts to see which red pigments would work best in my painting.

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Once I had put so much ground work in to finding the right reds for my Ruby Red Bouquet picture the actual painting was a real joy. I can truly say I now appreciate the richness of burgundy red in a way I didn’t before! I hope you like it!

Red Roses





Bridal Fairs 2013

Wedding Themed Original Watercolours

Sujinan's Bouquet FramedWould you like an original keepsake of your wedding? Being passionate about flowers I love painting Bridal Bouquets which convey the delicacy and beauty of each bloom with my paintbrush. I also paint other commemorative details such as the wedding cake, a favourite piece of jewellery or the table decorations.

All images are double-mounted in your colour scheme so you can frame them yourself. Catherine's Bouquet

To get the best possible result I need to work from high quality photographs with plenty of detail.

If you would like to see examples of the work I have created for brides or have a chat to discuss your ideas then come along to the following Oxfordshire Wedding Fairs, where I will be exhibiting some of my work:

  1. JackFM & The Bridal Network at The Oxford Hotel, Godstow Road, Oxford, OX2 8AL on Sunday 14th April, 12 – 3pm.
  2. JackFM & The Bridal Network at Fallowfields Country House Hotel, Faringdon Road, Kingston Bagpuize, Oxfordshire, OX13 5BH on Sunday 28th April, 3 – 6pm.
  3. JackFM & The Bridal Networkat Cotswold Lodge Hotel, 66a Banbury Road, Oxfordshire, OX2 6JP on Sunday 22nd September, 12 – 3pm.
  4. The Baytree Hotel, Sheep Street, Burford, Oxfordshire, OX18 4LW on Sunday 20th October.  Baytree Hotel Conservatory
  5. Jack FM & The Bridal Network at Fallowfields Country House Hotel, Faringdon Road, Kingston Bagpuize, Oxfordshire, OX13 5BH, 3 – 6pm. FabulousFlowersBouquetFramedSunshine Bouquet

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Simple White Bouquet

Simple White Bouquet Card


Painting a `Simple White Bouquet’ is far from simple! How do you convey the `whiteness’, the simplicity and the beauty of a flower in watercolour on a white page?!  It is very easy to make white flowers look past their best and dirty.

Doris Joa says `When painting a white flower you paint the shadows and the reflections from the surrounding leaves and background. The white of the paper becomes the white of the flower.’

Watercolour Paper

The watercolour paper you choose to work on is very important in Botanical Work. The highesy quality papers are made of 100% cotton fibre. These papers can handle a lot of re-working, erasing and scrubbing. Other papers are made of cellulose or wood pulp or a mixture of these with cotton fibre. Cheaper papers are not acid free and tend to yellow and deteriorate over time.

Watercolour paper is available in three different surface finishes. The surface finishes can vary depending on the manufacturer:-

Watercolour Papers

HP (Hot Pressed) This has a smooth surface suitable for precise, detailed work such as Botanical Painting.

NOT (Cold Pressed) This is the most commonly used paper. It has a medium textured surface and holds colour well.

ROUGH This has a rougher texture. When a colour wash is applied, the brush can drag over the surface creating what is known as a dry brushstroke effect due to paint settling in some dips and missing others. This paper is good if you want a textured effect. It is particularly useful if you are trying to create the effect of shimmering water.

Watercolour paper is available in several weights, which refers to the weight of a ream of paper (500 sheets) of a given size. Paper weight is indicated in either pounds per ream (lb) or grams per square metre (gsm). Thinner paper, such as 190gsm (90lb) tends to buckle or cockle unless stretched. The usual weight is 300gsm (140lb) which is more versatile. I use a heavy paper 425gsm (200lb) which means I can work really wet if I want to. The heavier and better quality the paper the stronger it will be.

The sizing of watercolour paper is not totally straightforward.

Full Imperial – 76x56cm (30×22″) – a bit smaller than A1

1/2 Imperial – 56x38cm (22×15″) – a bit smaller than A2

1/4 Imperial – 38x28cm (11×15″) – a bit smaller than A3

1/8 Imperial – 28x19cm (7.5×11″) – a bit smaller than A4

Working on a big piece of paper frees me up a bit and I find it easier to paint complex flowers on 1/2 Imperial size paper.

Watercolour Paper is also available in various shades from a strong cream to pure white. I prefer to use a pure white paper for Botanical work. I particularly recommend Saunders Waterford High White Hot Pressed 425gsm (200lb) paper. I have tried painting white flowers on cream paper and find the High White colour better for white flowers.

Simple White Bouquet

I have recently painted a `Simple White Bouquet‘  as a commission and wanted to share with you the process I go through when painting a Bouquet picture.

1. Firstly I only work from good quality photographs and like to know the names of the flowers in the bouquet. I need to work from a photograph which can be printed out at A4 size without loosing any of the detail. Ideally therefore the photograph will have been taken by a professional wedding photographer rather than just an incidental snap-shot. The photograph I used for this commission was not ideal for my purposes. Simple White Bouquet Reference PhotoThe bride described her bouquet as a very `simple bouquet of white roses’. To me the image seemed quite dark and the roses looked very yellow and not white. However I was able to identify the roses as white avalanche roses often used in bridal bouquets. White roses are as difficult to photograph as to paint in watercolour. Often the leaves come out very dark and indistinguishable and the white flowers can be over-exposed. I tried altering the white balance to make the flowers look cream but the roses ended up with brown edges which was not the look I wanted. I therefore purchased some new white avalanche roses from my local friendly florist so I could work from the actual flowers, as well as the photograph, to match the colour.

DSC_8355 copy


Before putting paint to paper it pays to carefully observe the flowers you want to paint.  I like to have an actual example of the real flower in front of me as well as the reference photo. I look hard at the flower observing it’s structure and colour. Often I will make loose exploratory sketch book paintings of one of the flowers before I tackle the `real’ thing. This gives me a chance to explore the paint colours I might use. When I first observed the reference photo I wasn’t sure about the colour as I knew they were white or cream roses and not yellow.

Whiteishroses I therefore played around with the colour on my computer and printed out a new reference photo. Working from these photos I decided that I needed a yellow which would produce a lovely cream colour. I picked Raw Sienna which does have a lovely cream hue.  However this was not a good yellow for the leaves.  I knew I wanted dark shiny green leaves. A Cool Blue wouldn’t work for the darker leaves as it would be too bright. However warm French Ultramarine Blue and Raw Sienna just didn’t mix together to make green – all I got was sludge, which wouldn’t do at all to depict a beautiful white bouquet! Raw Sienna and French Ultramarine are also both granulating pigments so they just don’t mix to create a smooth shiny leaf. As Raw Sienna is an earth pigment I found any shadows I painted came out brown. Simple White Bouquet PracticeThis wasn’t a good look as brown shadows on a white rose look mucky. I found it very helpful buying a couple of white avalanche roses to observe the colour. What I found was that this particular rose has quite a green hue particularly on the outer petals. This helped me choose a more appropriate yellow. I needed a yellow which was cool and wouldn’t make brown when mixed with an approriate blue. I chose Winsor Lemon. Having practised mixing greens (see my Blog Post) I knew Winsor Lemon and Winsor Blue (Green Shade) would create a clean slightly limey green hue for the outer petals of the roses. I could mix the Winsor Lemon with French Ultramarine to create a green for the darker leaves. Practising mixing colours at this stage is invaluable before you launch in.


2. After making careful observations of the bouquet the next step is to make a light, careful drawing of the roses. I have found that with complex flowers it is easier to paint on a larger scale. My paper is 1/2 Imperial Size and I always stretch it onto a large board. I use an HB pencil and make sure I don’t press too hard indenting the paper. The rose is quite a challenging subject with multiple petals arranged in a spiral pattern so it is important to produce an accurate drawing to start with.

Step 2 - Simple White Bouquet

Step 2 – Simple White Bouquet


3. The next step is to make a start on the painting. I started by painting the leaves. Adding colour to the leaves first helps locate the white flowers on the page and makes it easier to see the outline and overall shape of each rose.  The brushes I use are Pro Arte Renaissance Sable. These brushes have generous filaments set in a gold plated ferrule fitted to a handsome green handle. I like this series of brushes. Paintbox1Your brush is a key tool when painting water colour flowers. My favourite brushes hold plenty of paint, retain their spring, and have a good point for fine detail. Even my largest size 14 sable brush has a good point for fine detail. I used a size 14 brush for the bigger leaves and a size 7 for the smaller leaves. Where the leaves were in shadow I mixed a green with the Winsor Lemon and French Ultramarine. At the top of the painting I added Winsor Blue into the mix as I wanted these leaves to be brighter. I made sure I didn’t paint over the pencil lines and just painted a pale wash of colour on the leaves. I allowed this paint to dry and then rubbed out my pencil lines surrounding the leaves.

Step 3 - Simple White Bouquet

Step 3 – Simple White Bouquet


4. I then added another layer of paint to the leaves. It is vitally important in flower painting that you keep your colours clean. Make sure you change your water regularly. Muddy water results in a muddy dull painting. When colour mixing I use a combination of two colours as a rule. I may add a third to tone down a colour. However colours lose their vibrancy and become muddy if you mix up too many pigments. I regularly rinse and dry my palette so other colours aren’t picked up on my brush.

At this stage I put another layer of mixed green paint on the leaves. I have added my mix of Winsor Lemon and Winsor Blue on the top leaves as these leaves are clear and not in shadow. At the bottom I have added a warmer, darker green mix of Winsor Lemon and French Ultramarine. Where the leaves are clearly in shadow I have painted another layer of Permanent Rose on top to dull down the green and make it darker. The edges of the shadow layer were softened with a damp clean brush as I didn’t want a hard edge.

Step 4 - Simple White Bouquet

Step 4 – Simple White Bouquet


5. I then started to work on the white flowers. On observation the outer petals had a distinctive soft lime green hue. I painted a `blush’ of green mixed with the Winsor Lemon and Winsor Blue (Green Shade) taking care that the blue didn’t overpower the yellow in the mix. I was after a green yellow. I took care not to paint over my pencil marks. I added another glaze to the leaves darkening up the shadows. When dry I erased the pencil lines around the outer petals.

Step 5 - Simple White Bouquet

Step 5 – Simple White Bouquet


6. Now I began to add more detail to the rose petals. I used my pale lime mixture on the outer petals and made the flower more yellow and peachy towards the centre with a mixture of Winsor Lemon and Permanent Rose. I was careful to keep the paint clean and make sure it didn’t look brown. Each petal had a graded wash becoming lighter by gradually adding water. I had my soft clean damp brush to hand to soften the edges on each petal.

Step 6 - Simple White Bouquet

Step 6 – Simple White Bouquet


7. I continued to glaze the leaves making them darker where necessary. There was much more French Ultramarine on the bottom leaves in shadow and more brighter Winsor Blue at the top.  Where I wanted the leaves to be duller i added a dash of Permanent Rose to the mix. The outer rose petals were defined with more pale lime green and blue shadows. I used more Lemon in the centres of the flowers. I kept erasing my pencil lines to make sure they were not visible in the finished painting.I made sure the rose didn’t have much brown in the shadows. I made sure of this by either mixing the Winsor Lemon with Permanent Rose or by mixing the Lemon with one of the blues but never mixed all three colours together. I was also careful to leave some white page as I wanted the roses to sing out as being white in colour. With this type of painting it pays to build up the colour gradually otherwise the finished result can look heavy handed.

Step 7 - Simple White Bouquet

Step 7 – Simple White Bouquet


8. It is always good to pick out one flower as the focal point in a painting. I therefore tried to define the rose at the front more than the others. I tried to paint this rose the brightest and give it more definition.The other flowers have less detail and softer edges to give the impression of depth. Also the leaves at the top are deliberately more yellow to show they are catching the light. In hindsight the darkest rose leaves are too dark.

Step 8 - Simple White Bouquet

Step 8 – Simple White Bouquet


9. I washed out some of the colour on the darker leaves with a damp brush to give a softer effect. I also added a little more definition to the centre of each flower.

Step 9 - Simple White Bouquet

Step 9 – Simple White Bouquet


So here we have it my `Simple White Bouquet’. Watch out for this card in my Bridal Boutique soon!

Simple White Bouquet Card

My next project is a vibrant red bouquet which will be a completely different challenge!


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Don’t leave your Greens!

Wedding Colour Wheel

Colour Wheel

I have just finished painting a couple of watercolours of Bridal Bouquets and it became obvious to me that I needed to pay more attention to `my greens.’ As a Botanical Artist the colours you use most will be green as this colour forms the basis of nature. It is possible to use green paint straight from the tube or pan. However as all greens can be mixed by combining blues and yellows I don’t have green in my paintbox.  Learning to mix your own shades of green gives you far more understanding of the qualities of the individual paints in your paintbox.  Colour knowledge certainly helps.

In basic terms green is a secondary colour mixed from blue and yellow. In order to mix the `right’ green you need to know the blues and yellows in your paint box intimately. It is important to distinguish between warm and cool pigments.

Painters Colour Wheel


The concept of Warm and Cool Colours can be very confusing. The way I remember is that warm colours have a red or orange undertone and cool colours lean towards blue. How do you distinguish between blues? A blue paint with a red undertone, such as French Ultramarine, is a warm blue and a blue paint with a yellow undertone, such as Winsor Blue (Green Shade), is a Cool Blue.

– Warm Blues lean to purple or red, e.g. French Ultramarine, Cobalt Blue

-Warm Yellows lean to orange or red, e.g. Indian Yellow, New Gamboge

-Cool Blues lean towards green or yellow, e.g. Winsor Blue (green shade), Cerulean Blue, Manganese Blue

-Cool Yellows lean to green or blue, e.g. Lemon Yellow, Aureolin

How do you decide whether your individual paints are Cool or Warm if you don’t know? The best way is to consult the Manufacturers Paint Charts. I have an excellent Hand-Painted Chart from Winsor and Newton. All of their paints are listed helpfully according to their warmth/coolness – Cool Yellows-Warm Yellows- Warm Reds-Cool Reds-Warm Blues-Cool Blues. Their earth pigments are shown separately.

Knowledge of warmth and coolness will help you choose the right blue and yellow for the job. For instance if you mix a Warm Blue (consisting of primary blue with red undertone) with a Warm Yellow (primary yellow with red undertone) you will get a muddy colour of browny olive or grey and not a fresh Spring Green. That’s fine if you want an olive colour, but not so good if you have arrived at this colour through lack of understanding  Any yellow or blue with a red undertone will mean you are mixing the equivalent of the three primaries together – red, yellow and blue, which mix together to make grey or brown.

I find that I often need a specific green for my Bridal Bouquet watercolours so I have systematically mixed all my blues and yellows together and made myself Green Charts for future reference.  I have organised my charts with the blues going from Cool to Warm. Winsor Violet isn’t strictly a Blue in the true sense of the word but I included it as Violet is a bluey red pigment and I thought it useful to include it.

The time I spent making these charts was invaluable. To make a chart like this do make sure you use a clean brush to mix the pigments and change the water regularly. Start with the yellow when mixing greens. You don’t need to add as much blue to the yellow to make green. If you are after a yellow green it is much easier to start with the yelllow.

Cool Yellow Greens


Winsor Lemon Greens

Winsor Yellow Greens

Aureolin Greens

Cool Yellows can produce lovely fresh bright Spring Greens. These yellows produce my favourite greens as they are so vibrant and cheerful. When I painted my Spring Bouquet I needed fresh Spring Greens including a limey colour for the Viburnum Opulus in the background.Sunshine Bouquet Card jpg I mixed the vibrant lime green with Winsor Lemon and Winsor Blue (Green Shade). Cool Yellows do produce lovely fresh greens when mixed with Cool Blues, but the green can be a bit over-powering, particularly in shadows. More pigment will just produce a brighter green and not a duller green. If you need to dull the green add a touch of red to the mix or use a warmer blue. For the jasmine leaves I used French Ultramarine mixed with the Winsor Lemon to give a slightly duller green. Where the leaves were in shadow I added a touch of red Permanent Rose to dull them down further. By sticking with the same cool yellow throughout the image retained it’s Spring like qualities.

Colour mixing has taught me a few things about my blues. Manganese Blue and Cerulean are very similar tonally. However Cerulean granulates much more than the Manganese. This surprised me as Winsor and Newton specify that both of these blues granulate. The Cerulean creates wonderful textures which would be great for seascapes and rocks particularly on textured paper. However granulation means it is hard to mix with the yellow. I found this particularly noticeable with Raw Sienna which is also a granulating pigment. Cerulean therefore separates from any colour it is mixed with. I also found it harder to get strong deep greens with Cerulean and Manganese. Winsor Blue (Green Shade) on the other hand is a really strong pigment which does not granulate. It could be described as a `bully’. You only need the merest touch of pigment to change the yellow to green. However it does produce very beautiful turquoise, aquamarine colours which I love.

The warmer blues produce greyer greens and olives.

Warm Yellow Greens


Indian Yellow Greens

Quinacridone Gold Greens

Raw Sienna Greens

When I was experimenting with mixing paint colours for my `Simple White Bouquet‘ image Simple White Bouquet I started with warm Raw Sienna as my yellow. This was a mistake. Raw Sienna produces a lovely creamy colour which was a good colour for the roses. However I struggled to make a decent green for the leaves. I knew I wanted a dark dull green so a Cool Blue wouldn’t work for the darker leaves as it would be too bright. However the warm French Ultramarine blue and Raw Sienna just didn’t mix together to make green – all I got was sludge, which wouldn’t do at all to depict a beautiful white bouquet! Raw Sienna and French Ultramarine are also both granulating pigments so they just don’t mix to create a smooth shiny leaf. I ended up using French Ultramarine with a Cool non-granulating Yellow.

I found mixing greens with the earth pigment Quinacridone Gold interesting. On the colour chart and in the palette Quinacridone Gold looks biased towards warm red. However it has a decidedly green gold hue when mixed. It reminds me of old gold rather than pale brushed gold. This meant that it did make a good olive green when mixed with the French Ultramarine unlike Raw Sienna.

Other consideration when mixing greens – do you want a bright fresh colour? I favour mainly transparent colours due to their translucent properties which results in fresh, bright paintings. Try to avoid pigments marked as opaque in Botanical Paintings. Catherine's BouquetYou can always dull a green down by mixing a tiny touch of red (green’s complementary colour) to the mix. In Catherine’s Bouquet image I used a combination of fresh bright greens with more muted greens for the shadow areas. As there was a lot of foliage this made sure the foliage was varied in colour. I first painted this image with the shadow area in a bright green which didn’t work as the green over-powered the beautiful flowers.

I hope you find my Green Colour Charts as useful as I do. I am going to work on more colour charts experimenting with violets, pinks and purples which should be useful in my flower painting. Watch out for them in a future Blog Post!

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Spring Sunshine Wedding

Sunshine Bouquet

When I married Mr Smiles our Spring wedding was full of sunshine and optimism.

When we were deciding which season of the year to get married in I knew I wanted a Spring Wedding. Spring is my favourite season. I am drawn to fresh Spring colours which can’t but help make you feel cheerful after the drab monochrome of Winter. Spring is seen as a fresh start for a New Year just as our marriage was the start of our New Life together.

Choosing a Wedding Colour Scheme

I love colour. I love mixing paints and experimenting with the different colours and tones they produce. I like experimenting with which colours work well together both in a painting and in my job as a Dispensing Optician when advising on frame choice. In my previous Blog Post  on `My Paint Box’ I shared how  I systematically record how my paints work together when mixed.

My advice to any Bride planning their wedding is to start thinking about which colours suit you and which colours you are attracted to.

Spring Colour Swatch

Spring Colour Palette

I invested in having my `colours done’ by House of Colour many years ago and found I am a `Peaches and Cream’ Spring or a Light Spring.  This knowledge was invaluable when planning my wedding. The book `Be a Beautiful Bride’ published by Hamlyn for Colour Me Beautiful is very useful.  As I am warm in colouring I knew that ivory, cream or golden shades suit me. The first thing I did was choose my dress. I wanted a dress which was pretty, feminine and romantic, preferably made of lace. I knew the dress I chose was the one for me as soon as I saw it. Pure White doesn’t enhance my warm colouring so I chose a champagne coloured taffeta gown by Essense of Australia. Essense of Australia D586 Front

Wedding Dress DetailMy dress was described  as an elegant slim-line tulle and crushed taffeta gown. It was Empire Line in shape as this suits my pear shape and high waist. The Empire Line was highlighted with a band of taffeta and the tulle was appliqued with lace and beaded with Swarovski crystals. Of course I thought my dress was absolutely beautiful! I accesorised my dress with cream shoes by Rainbow Club with little diamante detail, a delicate gold and crystal bracelet and a fabulous golden sparkly handbag. The best bit was my golden diamante tiara. I loved it and paraded around the house when I came back from the shop!

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Having chosen your dress you can then decide on a colour theme. We had chosen to get married in the Baytree Hotel in Burford, a beautiful old Inn with lovely gardens. The moment we visited the Baytree we knew this was the venue for us. It is a beautiful place with a sense of history, but has an air of cosy relaxation. We chose to have our ceremony in the conservatory which is very light and airy and has views of the garden.

I am as passionate about wedding flowers as I am about colour. I knew that I wanted my flowers to be romantic, natural, pretty country garden flowers. As a child I dreamt of creamy yellow primroses in a posy as a bouquet. My uncle picked my mum a posy of primroses from the local Woods when she was born. Bagley PrimroseIn reality primroses are too small for a bouquet. However the idea of something picked straight out of the garden arranged in an informal way has stayed with me. I am also passionate about roses as you will see from the pictures on my website. I now have 12 different varieties of rose in our garden at the last count and I know them all by name! I am particularly fond of big, old fashioned roses. Harlow Carr RoseI’m not keen on supermarket  roses which never open out. Yellow and pink are my favourite colours where flowers are concerned. I decided against pink flowers and pink as a colour scheme. Both myself, my bridesmaid and my mum-in-law can flush a nice shade of rosy pink and I thought it was best not to draw attention to our rosy cheeks!  Yellow seems to me to be bright, cheerful and optimistic. This is how I wanted my wedding to be. I therefore chose to have yellow roses in my bouquet. The colours that suit me best are peaches and cream so I opted for a bouquet of old fashioned roses in creams, yellow gold and soft peach. I included the variety of Narcissi ` Sir Winston Churchill‘ which are creamy-white with centres of peach.

WinstonChurchillMy bouquet was tied with lace picking up on the lace in my dress. When I was deciding on which flowers I would like in my bouquet I found the magazine `Wedding Flowers’ the best magazine on the market. It is full of good advice and more importantly there are good quality large photographs of example bouquets in every colour scheme imaginable. Once I had made some choices about how I wanted my bouquet to look I painted an imaginary watercolour which I used on our wedding stationary.



My painting portrayed an informal hand-tied bouquet in my colour scheme of peaches and cream with a splash of cheery golden yellow. I included jasmine as I intended to have jasmine hung in garlands in the conservatory at the Baytree. I carried this design through on our invitations, Order of Service, Table Plan and Bridal Favours.

Order of Service

Table Plan

Baytree Hotel Conservatory











Sunshine Bouquet



For the table decorations I chose to have informal jugs of flowers incorporating roses from my bouquet but also less structured foliage and flowers giving the impression that they had just been picked out of the garden. The jugs and ceremony flowers included foliage of yellow forsythia and viburnum opulus. The viburnum was a lovely fresh lime green colour. I loved it so much I hunted it down to grow in our garden. The only nursery I could find that stocked it is Sarah Raven.

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Bridal Favours

I included home-made crab apple jelly pots on the tables as bridal favours. Crab apple jelly is a beautiful peach colour. I topped the pots with lace and tags with my own design to match the theme.P&D (169)P&D (014) I also managed to find peach tea lights which co-ordinated beautifully. I made confetti cones from paper with textured paper containing dried flowers and filled the cones with  freeze-dried rose petals.

The vast majority of my wedding photographs here were taken by Steve Hicks of Squib Photography. He is a fabulous wedding photographer with a delightful manner and I would highly recommend him.

The next stage in deciding on a colour scheme was to make a decision about outfits for my bridesmaid and the men, including the groom! I found my colour knowledge as an artist was an invaluable. It does help to have a little colour knowledge and this colour wheel is helpful:-

 Wedding Colour Wheel

Wedding Colour Wheel

I found this Colour Wheel on a Blog called Budget Brides Guide and the article on colour schemes was really useful:-

There are basically 3 types of wedding colour combinations to choose from:-

Monotone. With this colour scheme you pick one colour and stick to it. You can use many different shades of the same colour. For example my sister-in-law wanted her colour scheme to be pink and pink it was!DSC_0034

She had a variety of pinks in her bouquet including soft pink Sweet Avalanche roses and darker pink bombastic spray roses. I gave her the flowers as a wedding gift and Fabulous Flowers of Abingdon did her proud.Her shoes were vibrant pink and the groom had a tie and shirt in shades of pink.

Sujinan's Bouquet




I decided to be different and wore a dress with red flowers!



Analogous Colours. This colour scheme combines 2 colours next to each other on the color wheel. For example: red and orange, blue and green, violet and red, etc. These make really good colour combinations as they are pleasing to the eyes.   You can combine shades of 2 or 3 colours next to each other on the colour wheel. When I was deciding on my colour scheme I was intending to use `Peaches and Cream’ as my colour scheme with accents of golden yellow. You can see on the Colour Wheel that these colours all lie next to each other and are therefore analogous colours.  I was therefore considering putting my bridesmaid in a brushed gold or yellow dress. She refused! If I’d had my way she may have been in cheery sunflower yellow! However my bridesmaid doesn’t suit yellow. My bridesmaid has lovely bright blue eyes and although light colours suit her like me, she doesn’t have my Spring colouring. She is a light, Summer.  Many of the light pastel colours that suit me work well on her, however blues work better on her then any colour biased towards yellow. Summer ColourA person with Summer colouring does not look good in yellow, gold, orange or peach. The only possible yellow may have been a pale primrose yellow which she can wear, but wouldn’t have been keen on wearing! This can be a problem if your bridal party includes several people with a bias towards particular colours. In the Colour Me Beautiful Book `Be a Beautiful Bride’ there is a list of several colours which suit everyone and this lists includes purple, turquoise, emerald and true red.

Complementary Colours. These are colours that are opposite to each other on the color wheel. These colors when used together stand out and create contrasts. For example orange and blue, yellow and violet, red and green. Suddenly my knowledge of colour and the colour wheel was invaluable. If you find peach on the colour wheel and look for  the complentary colour on the opposite side you get a beautiful teal blue/green. Sorted! I found a beautiful dress by Dessy in a suitable colour called `Capri’.  It was a fabulous colour for my bridesmaid and went with my   colour scheme as a cheery complementary colour. I am not quite sure what the groom and the grooms men thought about wearing such bright coloured cravats, but I loved it!  I thought the colour was bright, cheery and optimistic. I did make a joke about the colour in my speech!

Dessy 2759 Capri

I’d love to know what you think about my wedding colour scheme!

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