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Beauty in the detail

How to paint a popular spring flower, fritillaria meleagris, in watercolour using just six colours with botanical artist, Catherine Harriyott


How to paint a bell-shaped flower

Practise painting form through tone and colour

Colour-mixing for foliage


Igenerally choose to work from life as I find that I’m able to observe more detail this way. This is not always possible, as in this case so I worked from a collection of photographs, which you can see in the photograph (right). From these images I started to sketch the flower heads in various angles. I traced the shapes I liked and cut them out so they were individual flower heads that I could then arrange into different compositions, adding the stalks and leaves by hand.

Having a ‘play’ like this is a good way to experiment until you find an arrangement that pleases you. Once that’s done, take a single sheet of tracing paper and copy the whole thing out onto your paper, ready to paint.

The flower heads

When looking at bellshaped flowers, such as this fritillaria, you will notice that most of the light hits the top of the ‘bell’ and, of course, not as much light hits the interior so that will be in a darker shade. However, this is not always the case, as sometimes the light shines through the petals, illuminating the inside. It is good therefore to think about this existing contrast between the light and the darker shadier areas on each flower before you begin to paint. The following four exercises on these pages will help you to follow my painting demonstration over the page.

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About Leisure Painter

Welcome to the Summer issue of Leisure Painter, where we aim to cover all your favourite media and subjects . In this month's issue you will find all the help you'll need for drawing or painting landscapes, flowers, animals, harbour scenes, seascapes, weather effects and more in watercolour, acrylics, oils, pastels and drawing media. Learn how to find the perfect view when sketching outdoors and find confidence-boosting tips for painting in public when you venture out this year. From how to make marks in graphite and reproduce textures in nature to three important considerations when painting from photographs, enjoy your month of painting with Leisure Painter