Perennials · Plant Choices · Trees

The Guelder Rose – Jackie Copeman

I have always been interested in drawings and painting as well as gardening. I found that by doing the Diploma in Botanical Illustration Course – an English Garden School course tutored by Anne Marie Evans at the Chelsea Physic garden (part time from 2002 – 2004) I was able to combine the two.  It wasn’t however until 2009 that I was able to focus more fully on botanical art and my work can be found in many collections. I am a founder and fellow member of the Hampton Court Florilegium Society and a member of the Bedgebury Pinetum Florilegium Society.

I work in watercolour on paper, in this case Fabriano 640g which allows wet on wet work but I also enjoy working on vellum which requires a much more dry brush approach.  My favourite brushes are Raphael, Kolinsky sable with a really long point in sizes 4 and 5. As well as working in watercolour I also enjoy pen and ink.

Some time ago whilst walking through a wood I remember seeing a beautiful bush displaying some glorious red berries.  Returning in the spring there were the beautiful lacy caps of the flower heads.  So when a choice was to be made for a native plant I decided that this was the one I would do.


Beginning to think about composition, I looked at the structure of the plant, which was twiggy with an untidy growth habit.  I chose some typical twigs, and laid them out in a possible pattern which might act as a ‘scaffold’ onto which some of the other important elements of the composition might be built.

image006The beautiful lace caps have delicate white flowers on multiple heads. It was, I felt, important to show these both from above and below.
They also needed to be seen against a white background, without the artifice of always placing against a leaf.  So I indicated the petal shapes and some shading in a very pale colour at the edges, leaving the brain ofthe viewer to complete the shape.




Some of the initial flower sketches are deliberately basic as they are designed to analyse the structures and ensure the final painting is as accurate an illustration in this respect as possible

Later, when the berries appeared on the plant, some were laid carefully on the part-finished painting to determine the best position for the composition.  When satisfied the berries were drawn and painted.




The final piece is the result of work carried out from spring to autumn representing of one of our small native trees – Viburnum opulus .



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