This section is from the book "Arts & Crafts Magazine Vol1-2", by Hutchinson & Company.
Double flowers are certainly the most difficult of all flowers to represent adequately, and this difficulty is greatest when the flower faces you squarely and you look into its depths. As a bud, or in profile, or seen only from the back, there is no more difficulty about the painting of it than a single flower.
So, for a first study, suppose we choose two Catherine Mermet buds - one half opened, the other more fully blown. Put the ends of the stems into water and let the blossoms lean toward the light and be near together, so that they shall not be two spots of pink of equal brightness separate and far apart. (See illustration on page 72.)
Pen Study by E. M. Hallowell.
The less opened bud turns toward the light and bends a little, but is more upright than its fellow. It has much the outlines of a tulip turned thus to one side. You see the few large outer petals, one overlapping another, and the tips of a few inner petal-. As the rose is turned toward the light, those tips of the inner petals are struck by it full on the edges; the rounded swell of the outer petals catch the light softly; the one petal that hangs down more open than the others gathers much light upon itself.
Pen Drawing by E. M. Hallowell.
The other rose, being heavier, hangs a little lower than the bud. We turn its face somewhat toward the background, and, as it bends downward also, we see the green sepals turning backward toward the stem, and its outer petals softly rounding over each other and curling back at the edges.
The background is blue and yellow and green, we will suppose - not solid at all, but of varied tints, not green enough to be the colour of the leaves of the roses, nor blue enough to be blue exactly, nor yet yellow with any aggressiveness. Next we paint the shadows on the first rose. The local colour all over the rose is pink, and so the shadows have pink in them, but there is no more pink in the shadows than in the lights except where the light shines through a petal or where petal reflects upon petal.
Where a petal reflects upon a petal and it is in shadow, the colour is not only deeper, but warmer. Down in the centre of a pink rose, where pink is reflected and re-reflected, or where the light shines through the petals also, we see a deep pink shadow, warm and rich. In other places the shadows tend to greenishness from the reflections thrown upon the rose; in others again toward a purplish pink or gray. As in white flowers, so in light pink or light yellow flowers, the colour of the shadows depends upon the surroundings. The more deep and vivid the blossom is in colour, the less easily do the surroundings affect the local colour present in the shadows. The spring of the stems of these two Mennet roses and of the few green leaves that grow on them is fresh and full of life. Draw them in quickly before they lose their charm, and paint them with direct swiftness.
The local colour of a rose is, of course, important, but do not pay more attention to that than to the shadows and lights. These are what is most needed to make our painted rose seem actual and solid. The lights and shadows model out the large curves of the petals and the accidental crimples and creases in them.
Next, we would wish to paint a full-blown rose, looking into its convolutions of petals. The outer petals are large and simple, and the inner surfaces they roll back to show are lighter than the pinker growing centre. The shape of the petals is expressed in the pink grayness of the shadows near the light: the white pink light, the yellow pink reflected lights, and the deep central warmth of colour.
In painting a rose, some persons cover the whole space the flower is to occupy with rose madder, and paint into this the higher lights and deeper shadows; or a rosy gray will be the general tone selected out of which other details are evolved. Others paint the colour each petal calls for as it comes. Either way is good if the result is what the painter has been seeking - a representation that is as fresh in colour as the rose itself, and as real at a proper distance as the actual rose.
There are two extremes of error in painting roses common with beginners. The extreme into which a careful, painstaking student is most liable to fall is over-elaboration of detail and a timid dryness of colour that turns the fresh coloured youth of the Mermet's pink into a withered old age or a thin imitation of nature. The other extreme is in the fault of omission; here the painted rose is only a featureless ghost of a rose. If the rose is painted merely as an accessory to a figure or a landscape there may be no reason why it should be more than suggested; but even then it ought to be solid, should receive and cast shadows. But if the rose is the picture itself, we must tell our talc-completely. We must describe the rose's shape and colour as it is revealed by the form and intensity of its shadows and the beauty of its tints.
Pen Drawing by E. M. Hallowell.
The larger the composition of flowers and the greater the distance we are placed from our models, the fewer details we must paint, because then we see fewer. But there comes a degree of distance and of vagueness when what we see of a rose is not worth recording.
The green leaves of the rose are characteristic.
and should he studied with as much care as the blossoms themselves. They are different with each species of rose: smooth and waxy, pointed and slender, when the rose is of patrician family; broad and coarser, with deeper notches on the edges, but never by any chance ugly, when the rose is only a peasant Phyllis. The pose of these green leaves, their sway, their wayward lightness, have all grace in them. The whole bush also is in harmony and chooses the colour of many details, such as thorns and the underside of the leaf, the leaf edges and veins, and the new shoots to suit the colour of the blossom it intends to exhibit. And yet there was a time when the world was so dark and benighted that roses were arranged with smilax instead of with their own green leaves. The very thorns of the rose have no chance placing; they circle around the stem in an ascending spiral, and always turn their spurs backward to wound the hand that would pull the rose from the bush. I have grieved to see them painted pointing upward toward the flower, where they could harm none except the butterflies as they hovered round them, or the roses themselves if they nodded that way.
Catherine Mermet Roses.
In making a composition of roses, pose them so as to show to advantage a few blossoms, and let the others be less prominent. There is a limit to the number of roses the eye can take an interest in at once. Banks and banks of roses, all equally lighted, become as uninteresting as a company of soldiers at drill.
When the roses are first gathered, their crisp outer petals, leaves, and curving stems hold them up lightly from the plane upon which you have placed them; sometimes one rises above the others, but all of them are round and whole. When they are wilted, they will fall in a little flat heap, not in the least like what they were when you began to draw them. There are a few ways of mitigating this evil: one is to place under their heavy heads a small piece of sponge, or a little coil of wire, or anything that will hold up the stem or flower when it begins to fail. This should be so hidden that you cannot see it when you are painting. Another way is to stick the ends of the stems into wet sponges and to keep the room quite cool.
The most effectual way to restore roses when they are beginning to wilt is to plunge them into water up to the very blossom, and put them away into a cool room or refrigerator for half an hour until they are refreshed. It is not easy to replace them just as they were at first, but it is necessarv to do so in order to go on with the study if it is partly painted, because the roses must be in the same relation to each other as at first on account of the reflections and shadows.
Painted in a mug or vase, or hanging over the side of a bowl filled with water they do not wither quite so rapidly. But even then they will droop and change somewhat as the hours go by. Do not attempt to paint many at a time. Growing on a bush they remain the same model for you longer, and with fortunate lighting a beautiful composition can be made. P. T.