In Sacred Emily, written in 1913, Gertrude Stein says that “Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.” She’s referring to Jack Rose, a figure in the poem. Today, we’ve come to use that line of poetry as a way of saying “It is what it is.”
My husband loves roses. On Valentine’s Day each year, I get at least a dozen, and he occasionally likes to surprise me by bringing home a single red rose. We also have rose bushes in the garden, and they’re beginning to bloom now.
Roses are incredibly beautiful, and incredibly complex. I would never have attempted to draw one had it not been for You Can Draw in 30 Days, one of the how-to-draw books I bought. Here’s my first attempt, drawn last summer.
“That’s not what a rose really looks like,” my husband promptly informed me.
“It hasn’t opened yet.”
“It still doesn’t look like a real rose.”
Of course, I couldn’t argue with him. It doesn’t look like a real rose. It was just a drawing exercise, a quick and easy way for a beginning artist to draw something that vaguely resembled a rose.
When the first bright blossoms appeared on our rose bushes last week, my husband plucked a few and brought them inside for me to enjoy.
Later that day, inspired by the little bouquet, I grabbed my charcoal sticks and followed along with a demonstration at The Virtual Instructor. It’s actually a reverse drawing, done by applying a layer of charcoal to the page and then using an eraser to make the marks.
It does look a bit more like a rose. Enough that it got a nod of approval from my husband. Truthfully, I think he was more intrigued by the reverse drawing technique than by the actual rose.
But who draws black and white roses? Roses are so bright and so colorful! It was, of course, only a matter of time before I made an attempt to capture a rose in its true glory.
Well, maybe that’s stretching it a bit. Let’s just say I wanted to capture the glorious color of our yellow roses. I also wanted a good subject for a bit of watercolor practice. A rose seemed like a good thing to draw.
All things considered, my yellow rose watercolor turned out much better than I’d expected. It’s got a few droopy petals, and unfortunately — as you can probably tell — I had a little problem with the paper buckling. Overall, though, I’m happy with it. It’s clearly much better than the first little tightly-wrapped rose I drew last summer.
My husband hasn’t seen this one yet, but I think he’ll like it. I like it if only because of the hope it gives me. I think, with practice, I can actually get better with watercolors. Now, I just need to figure out how to properly soak and stretch my paper. Any tips will be appreciated.
Note: I’m using Canson 140-lb. cold-pressed paper. I typically soak it first, then place it on my Masonite drawing board, squeeze out the water with paper towels, and then tape the page down. It still buckles. I could buy more expensive paper, I know, but as I’m still at a “practice” stage, I don’t want to spend a fortune on paper. Any advice?