Hello Autumn!

The Rosa Rugosa Lesson Plan


Creative Studio


Welcome to the studio, a place to relax, to be inspired and to develop your own creative potential. Here, we will explore ideas and create art with mediums and techniques that will have you achieving rewarding results with your own art. 

Goldfaber Aqua Watercolor Pencils are an exciting and enjoyable medium. These intensely pigmented pencils offer the ease of sketching, combined with the ability to produce stunning watercolor painting results as well. 

In this lesson plan, we explore the art of botanical illustration, and the basic steps to creating your own piece of art.




Choose Colors and Experiment

One of the great advantages to watercolor pencils are their ability to both sketch and paint. The most basic way to use them is to sketch directly onto the paper, and then brush water over it. The more pigment you apply, the darker the color will be when water is added.

Another painting technique I combine with the basic method is to scribble a spot of color on a piece of scratch paper. I can then pick up the pigment with a wet brush, and transfer it to the artwork. Mixed colors can also be created by layering combinations of colored pencil scribbles. 

Look carefully at your reference photo and choose as many colors as possible. More colors will add depth and interest to your artwork. 



The Rosa Rugosa; A Botanical Study

The Rosa rugosa is a wild, carefree flower native to Maine, and nature’s own stunning accent to just about every beautiful coastal area and landmark you will find there. 

I have decided to capture the beauty of this hearty, lovely flower along with an impressive location where it can be found, in watercolor pencils. Also included in this study is some fun info about the Rosa rugosa. 

Follow along, or choose your own plant specimen for a botanical study done in the same manner here. 



RosaRugosa-05 RosaRugosa-06 RosaRugosa-07

Taking Photos

I took these photos of the flower and the various stages of it’s habit for reference during my artwork. The variety of images will add interest.

I shot these images on a sunny day to insure good lighting and the flowers at their best.



Begin With A Layout

I began this project by designing my layout. I decided that the finished design would be 7-1/4 x 21-3/4,— 3 panels each measuring 7-1/4 x 7-1/4. 

Referring to my photos, I then practiced some sketches on tracing paper, creating a drawing to fit each panel. I chose to highlight a few small images of rosehips and their stages of development as part of the study. Part of the design was to also allow for some blank space for copy, even though I wasn’t quite sure what I would be writing yet.

Using an exacto knife and a straight edge, I measured and cut my strip of watercolor paper. Using a light table, I then lightly traced my drawings onto the watercolor paper in pencil.

Finally, I used a black fine tipped pen to sketch over the pencil.



The Line Drawing

The line drawing will look it’s best done in a light handed manner. I looked carefully at my photos and decided on areas to capture detail, and other areas to leave more simplified. The thorny stems are a combination; drawing lots of thorns (as in reality) would look heavy handed, while drawing fewer simplified, small groupings of them, look better.



Line Character

I like to draw with broken lines to give the artwork a light, airy look. That means that the lines don’t always connect; some are left unfinished. This style, especially combined with watercolor, helps to create a very fresh, light look.




I wanted the type to have a light, hand-done look, but also be evenly spaced and uniform. Part of the process of designing something, is to practice until you get it just right on scrap paper. I used pencil, and drew strait lines as guides to make the upper and lowercase letters uniform. I centered the 3 smaller nick-names and positioned it all on the scrap paper and then used a light table to trace the whole unit of type into position onto the watercolor paper. Instead of filling in the letters with a solid black ink, I loosely sketched them in. 

Shown here is the first stage of the ocean in watercolor pencils. Referring to my photo, I used 4 different pencils, and lightly layered colors to make nice blends for the second stage, where I painted over it with water. 

After positioning the type onto the watercolor paper, I painted the flowered hedge. I kept it very undetailed by painting it in a light wash, with very simplified shapes for roses.




For painting the water, I used a soft, round wet brush. I began in the back at the horizon line and painted over the dry pencil with water. I painted in a horizonal direction as I moved towards the foreground, the colors blended into each other, creating a thin, watery wash. I left small bits of the white paper showing along parts of the shoreline and around rocks to read as shallow white waves. 

I continued to lightly sketch in color to areas of the rocks, and washing over it with water.



For the sky, I begin by wetting the area with just water. I then used the “scribble, add water and transfer” method described earlier, to lay in the color. The watery blue pigment spread on the wet paper, creating a soft, light, smooth look. I also added a touch of pink to tie in with the surrounding flowers. 

I continued with painting the lighthouse by lightly sketching in color and painting. I also added more detail to the rocky ground.



When painting the flowers and leaves, I lightly applied the watercolor pencils directly to the line drawing, then added water for a first, light wash. When dry, I then layered more pencil and water to create some darker spots and shaded areas for dimension and interest.



Writing The Copy

When deciding what information to include, I searched for ideas regarding the rosehips of the Rosa rugosa online. I practiced writing out my ideas on lined scratch paper until I got the look and size of it to fit the space on the layout, and then traced it into position onto the artwork. 

The copy done in pencil gives a nice casual contrast to the finished art.



Cover Design

Here is a simple image I painted for the outer left cover panel that is exposed when the piece is folded.


Click here to Download the complete lesson in a .pdf file.  


Lesson Plan by Janis Doukakis


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