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Digital Subscriptions > The Artist > October 19 > Autumn flowers in vibrant colour

Autumn flowers in vibrant colour

Soraya French begins a new series in which she explores the endless opportunities offered by working in mixed media for painting lively and vibrant floral subjects

The first flower I would like to introduce in this series is Physalis alkekengi, a hardy perennial that adorns many summer flower borders around September. There are many forms of this stunning plant, which is from the nightshade family, but the most commonly known and romantic name for this plant is Chinese lantern. It is the beautifully formed orange pods that make this plant so popular and such a great subject for painting.

Chinese lanterns have a fascinating life cycle; the perfect pentagonalshaped white flowers first grow into green pods around August, and then gradually turn into the most vibrant orange papery pods that resemble lanterns by September, hence the name. As the orange pods dry they turn into golden skeletal pods with the orange fruit visible inside. The chaotic mass of beautifully shaped orange pods and the irregular formation of stems that grow in every direction offer the artist plenty of opportunity for interesting shapes within a composition.

Chinese lanterns can be cut and brought indoors for beautiful flower displays and, if correctly dealt with, can retain their colour for months, so they can be used effectively as part of an autumnal still life. However, this plant should be handled with care as the leaves, pods and unripe berries are poisonous.

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About The Artist

Welcome to the October issue of The Artist, including an additional 16 pages full of ideas and suggestions about art courses and holidays that could help to inspire and develop your creative skills. This issue is also packed with inspirational insights into how professional artists approach their work, including a commissioned portrait in oils, and practical demonstrations in watercolour, oil pastels, oil-based pencils, acrylics, line & wash and mixed media. There's something for everyone, whatever your level or experience, from how to add a little magic to your watercolour still lifes, paint an autumn landscape in five easy stages, capture a sunset in acrylics, sketch people in line & wash, create a vibrant flower composition in mixed media, and more. Plus be inspired by some of this year's The Artist Open Competition prizewinners, who explain how they created their winning artworks. Enjoy your month of drawing and painting with The Artist.