The Making of 'You Are My Sunshine' (Yellow Rose)

29 February, 2016 2 comments Leave a comment

Last fall I started this 12 x 12" watercolour of a yellow rose laying on a bed of smooth pebbles. After many interruptions, I finally finished it three months later. Fortunately I took photos along the way, so I could share with you the steps involved in this piece. Here goes...

After drawing the rose onto my watercolour paper, and masking out a bit of twig on the right, I painted half of the pebbles, working around the rose shape. All the pebble colours were mixed from the primary colours French Ultramarine (blue), Permanent Alizarin Crimson (red), and Aureolin (yellow). I sprinkled salt on some of the pebbles while the paint was wet, to add a mineral pattern. Once the salt dried, I brushed it off.

Step 1 of Yellow Rose by Karen Richardson

Tired of painting pebbles, I started working on the rose. This first layer shown below is just yellow with varying amounts of water to make the paint lighter or darker.

Step 2 of Yellow Rose by Karen Richardson

After the first layer was dry, I added a more yellow darkened with a bit of red and blue in the shadowy areas (below).

Step 3 of Yellow Rose by Karen Richardson

 Once the rose was dry, I switched back to darkening around each pebble with a dark mixture of the three colours. The rose is really starting to 'pop' now.

 Step 4 of Yellow Rose by Karen Richardson

In the photo below, I have completed the first value layer on the pebbles in the right half of the painting (shown in the upper right quadrant), and started the second darker value layer (shown in the lower right quadrant).

Step 5 of Yellow Rose by Karen Richardson

Below you can see the pebbles on the right have had colour patterns added, to look more like real stones.

Step 6 of Yellow Rose by Karen Richardson

To complete the painting I added more shadows around the pebbles, created more patterns on the stones, painted the rose stem, removed the masking from the twig and painted it, and added the shadow cast by the rose onto the pebbles (shown below).

I researched the symbolism of yellow roses and discovered they stand for happiness, friendship, and caring. For this reason, I decided to title the painting You Are My Sunshine.

For more information about this painting and how it is framed, click here.

Subscribe to Karen's Newsletter if you wish to see more painting tips, travel tales, studio news updates, or notices of upcoming exhibitions.

« previous post   |   next post »

Leave a comment

Comments are checked before they appear


  1. Cornelisse September 04, 2020

    Thank you for showing how you arrive at your wonderful paintings I am trying some of your suggestions especially using masking and using small pointed brushes in better quality hair.

  2. Linda P Farrow Bullock September 04, 2020

    Totally impressed. I will be ordering your book, and trying your tutorials. Thank you, so much.