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Autumn flowers in vibrant colour

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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The Artist
October 19

Other Articles in this Issue

The Artist
Want to comment on something you’ve read, or seen? Email me at theartistletters@tapc.co.uk or visit our website at www.painters-online.co.uk/forum
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Check out the latest competitions to enter and make a note of important deadlines
Meet this month’s editor’s choice winner from our PaintersOnline gallery
Susie Hodge talks to Fred Coppin, winner of the The Artist Award in last year’s Royal Institute of Oil Painters’ annual exhibition, who demonstrates his approach to portraiture
Jennifer McRae, winner of the 2019 Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize, talks to Susie Hodge about the benefits of entering competitions and working in a variety of media in her portraits, landscapes and cityscapes
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Amanda Hyatt shares her top ten tips for adding mood, magic, light and a sense of time to a watercolour still-life painting
Ben Hope has re-discovered the advantages and versatility of oil pastels. He shares his techniques and tips for working on a variety of subjects, whether in your sketchbook or a finished painting
Award-winning artist Judith Selcuk specialises in coloured pencil fine art. Here she takes a look at the newly available colours in Derwent’s range of oil-based coloured pencils and demonstrates their painterly qualities with a painting of orchids
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and, as Ian Sidaway points out, landscape artists no longer feel they have to search out the ‘picturesque’. When he came across the Sound Mirrors on Romney Marsh he was immediately inspired to capture these majestic structures in watercolour
Paul Talbot-Greaves demonstrates how to paint a scene with soft, autumnal light in watercolour in just five easy stages
In the second of two features, Steve Hall paints a coastal scene in both watercolour and acrylic to compare the processes, and passes on some very useful tips
Jenny Aitken emphasises the importance of design as she demonstrates how to give your sunset impact
Paul Weaver underlines the benefits of drawing and painting the human figure from life and demonstrates just how easy this is to slot into your busy painting schedule
Geoff Hunt makes a second trip to Venice to gather material for his exhibition, only to encounter rain
Barry Herniman demonstrates how to imbue a dramatic watercolour landscape scene with mood and atmosphere
Frances Bell reveals how she approached a commission from the Metropolitan Police to paint a portrait of Commissioner Cressida Dick
Be inspired by the work of some of our talented prizewinners in this year’s annual open competition, organised in partnership with Patchings Art Centre