Monday, February 16, 2015

Thoughts on the Structure of Roses... and Artificial Props

This week, I'm interested in a series roses, single blooms in various stages and colors to brighten my easel, and continue to work on values. It is sunny and warm for February here  in the NW, and roses are not yet blooming. So I decided to invest into some study time on the structure of roses. Why you may ask?

Well, I will be using artificial props, and there is something usually 'off' about them. It turns out that most real roses have 5 petals in each whorl, so if you are using artificial/silk blooms to study painting, this may not be what you will see. There are rose species that have 4 petals, but not many, and the number of whorls seems to vary as well.

The green 'thingys' that sit at the base of the bloom are called sepals, and match the number of petals in one whorl, and can be seen surrounding the bud. The sepals protect the buds, and later support the blooms.

The stamens produces pollen (male), and the pistil topped by the stigma (female part) is where the pollen is deposited.

At the end of the season, you might see rose hips, the fruit, depending on species. The actual leaves grow in groups, and I left off the thorns too. ;o)

If you would like more detail, the wikipedia can expand on this information, but for purposes of the artist learning to paint this beautiful flower, this short explanation should suffice and point you in the right direction when using artificial props.

I am not going for a photographic look just because I know the basic parts of the rose, but I think it helps to have some understanding of a painting subject. Both paintings are done on linen sheets.

The first is full bloom and clearly a value study. No mystery there, but with this particular silk prop, the petals are distinctly rolled over a bit as if it is wilted.

I decided to use a bright synthetic brush, size 12, to give a sharper edge to some of the petals rolled edges.

Rose Blk/Wht Study
© 2015

The smaller bloom below did not have the correct number of petals of a live rose, but went for it anyway, and hoped to give it the illusion of a natural rose. Knowing it should have 5 actually was helpful. Used various brushes on this one.

MidBloom Red Rose
© 2015
I have now added some new words to my vocabulary, and I don't have to say 'thingy' anymore when talking about roses!

Thanks for reading and hope this helps if you also need to use artificial props.


  1. As an impressionist I enjoy the leeway of giving the impression of a rose and not worry about it being accurate but saying that does not mean I do not know and understand the structure - I sure do! It is the only way to paint them with authority. I applaud your dedication.

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    2. Agreed. Literal depiction is not the goal, however a foundational understanding will certainly give an edge towards an artistic expression.

  2. Replies
    1. Hi Erin, Thanks for your comment. It was an interesting exercise to do.