Many of my floral paintings are derived from visits to public and private gardens in the United States, Europe and South East Asia. One day, while driving through the scenic Cotswold region in England, I stopped at a stone cottage by the road. Against its walls leaned a pear tree laden with fruit. A climbing rose crept up a trellis standing over small steps, which led to another space beyond. The garden was bursting with color - hydrangeas, roses, lilies, daisies and more. Bushes and blooms all competed for space within the stone-lined borders of the small plot. It appeared as though spring and summer had descended at once. The view was friendly, warm and inviting. "Come enjoy our garden" it seemed to say. My painting is a tribute to that Cotswold garden and its gardener.
I composed this painting in my studio using several reference photographs. I use transparent watercolors, without white or black pigments. Because this was a large painting, I drew a simple grid to aid in positioning the house and plantings for the initial pencil drawing. Frisket was used to mask the daisies in the foreground and roses in the back. Color washes for the walls, stones, shrubs, flowers and lawn were brushed on to the wet, 300 gsm (140lb) paper, keeping within the boundaries defined by the drawing and lifting out color for the very light areas. When the paper was dry, details of the house, tree, sidewalk, flowers, leaves and branches were penciled in. I developed the painting in sections, working light to dark. Edges were softened with water or sharpened with more paint, and values corrected at the end.
This article was originally published in International
Artist, the magazine for artists by artists from around the world, Issue
#38 (August/September 2004), page 135.