Painting a Garden

The February 2008 issue of Watercolor Artist showcases Sally Robertson’s gorgeous florals and her magnificent garden that inspired them. Here’s a look at the work of some other artists inspired by gardens.

Carolyn Lord

Two Suns in the Cosmos (watercolor, 15 x 11)

”Even though it was the week after Veterans Day, the California weather had been so glorious that the flowering annuals were still vibrant,” says Carolyn Lord. “On Monday I did a horizontal painting on a quarter-sheet of Fabriano rough paper, painting en plein air. On Tuesday I returned to the site and painted on a vertical quarter sheet. I was pleased with these paintings, but I also remembered what this garden had been like the year before when there were sunflowers hovering over the cosmos and zinnias. Because the surface of Fabriano rough paper doesn’t lend itself to details, I felt free to recreate the image with the imagined sunflowers in my studio.

For the painting shown here, I mixed my greens by using the sedimentary blues of manganese, cerulean and cobalt. The colors for the flowers included permanent rose, cadmium scarlet and cobalt violet. As I had painted en plein air, I painted in the studio: on dry paper from puddle to puddle—hopping around and avoiding wet edges. I gave my painting the title, Two Suns in the Cosmos (watercolor on paper, 15 x 11). In addition to being the name of a free-flowering annual, ‘cosmos’ means ‘harmonious universe’ in Greek.”

Serena Rose


A naturalist, Serena Rose constructed a pond in her garden in order to study the flora and fauna that would make their home there. She turns her studies of the secret life of the pond into fascinating paintings like Among the Lotus Blossoms (watercolor, 33 x 40). To achieve a realistic effect, Rose wets the paper and with a brushload of paint, she lays in one quick wash using sweeping, horizontal strokes. She then leaves the wash to dry, without going over it a second time. With the water in place, she moves on to the many details that bring her paintings to life.

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