Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Cyclamen studies

I cannot stress enough how much I love the Botanical Sketchbook by Mary Ann Scott and Margaret Stevens. This is truly my favourite book about botanical painting. It doesn't teach how to paint (like excellent Billy Showell's books) but it is so inspiring for me that it's even hard to describe. I look into this book almost every day just to admire those beautiful sketches inside. Every time I discover something new and every time I'm as much amazed as I was when I first opened this book. 

Mary Ann's book inspired me to set up my own sketchbook. I already have a sketchbook - Stillman and Birn (Zeta series). I use it for many purposes, including botanical studies, but I decided to make my own sketchbook, dedicated only for botanical studies, with Fabriano Artistico paper, as it is my favourite hot pressed paper to paint on. I don't know how to join the sheets yet, I'm still thinking how to do this in a simple way and so that I could add or remove sheets in the future. I'll be working on it.

But meanwhile I just took a piece of Fabriano paper and painted some studies of Cyclamen I bought the other day.

The petals of the flower are very pale pink. I was tempted to use Opera Rose here, but I eventually decided to check whether Permanent Rose PV19 would match. And it did. For lighter shadows I used Ultramarine Violet PV15 with a touch of Permanent Rose.

In certain areas on the petals I added a bit of Quinacridone Magenta PR122 to Permanent Rose to make the color more vibrant. The lower part of the flowers are more violet. I used Quinacridone Magenta + Ultramarine Violet. 

For the darkest shadows I used mix of French Ultramarine PB29 + Burnt Sienna PR101 and I added to it Ultramarine Violet. For the stem I used Perylene Maroon PR179 + Burnt Umber PBr7. To make it darker I added Ultramarine Violet. 

The most tricky were the leaves. I have to work on them much more. Each leaf has a bit different shade of green. For the leaves I used many colors, different mixes for each leaf. I tried to avoid Permanent Sap Green as a base, but it became handy here to make reach dark green. 

Making these studies was a great fun. My Cyclamen is still alive and I'll make more studies of it. There are also other treasures which are waiting for their turn. I wish I had more time for it. 


  1. Wendy Hollender, botanical watercolor artist, sells spiral-bound sketchbook books. The spiral binding can be opened and closed to add and remove paper. The sketchbook contains 20 sheets of 140 lb., Fabriano Artistico hot-pressed paper (see

    Alternatively, you could buy a paper-punch machine and plastic spiral bindings to bind existing sketches.

    Your watercolor sketches are an inspiration to me.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your experience! I've just found your blog and I'm happy! I'm ukrainian violinist living in Switzerland. My dream is to learn botanical painting. But, like you said, wish I have more time... And a goos tutor also.