Art theory Flower Art Ink and watercolor wash Painting Sketchbook Pages Still Life

Out Stealing Roses

Stolen Roses, Ink & watercolor, in 5x7" wc Moleskine
Stolen Roses, Ink & watercolor, in 5x7" wc Moleskine

As Maya Angelou said her grandmother always told her, “You don’t always get what you pay for, but you always pay for what you get.” As a believer in Karma and Maya Angelou’s grandma, I was a little nervous about stealing my neighbor’s roses.

But that neighbor moved away a year ago and her roses were producing those first magnificent blooms of the year. I just couldn’t resist cutting a few to sketch. I drew them with my Micron Pigma .01 and then added watercolor. I wasn’t happy with the results so experimented with adding white lines with a new white gel pen, a “Y&C Gel Extreme .07” which I like it a lot. I liked the sketch (above) better too.

I decided to sketch them again and used my Micron Pigma with a lot of cross-hatching to try to understand their form in a more sculptural way.

Stolen Roses 2; ink, gouache, watercolor
Stolen Roses 2; ink, gouache, watercolor

Then I added watercolor and made a big mess. I couldn’t capture the delicate coloring from white to yellow with red edges of one of the roses . So I tried adding gouache. Yuck, worse mess. I washed off the paint and tried again. More mess, and this time I lost a lot of the black lines. So I got out a Sharpie fine point and went over the black lines with darker ones. More gouache, yuck, some white pen, gave up.

Then I took a bunch of photos of the roses, thinking I’d start an oil painting and keep a photo reference in case the painting took longer than they lived. Pretty soon I was coughing and sneezing and my eyes were watering. These roses were very fragrant and I was allergic to them (unlike the ones in my garden that I selected for their lack of scent). I put them outside and gave up. I guess I paid for what I got!

16 replies on “Out Stealing Roses”

Now that’s taking seriously the task of depicting roses, sneezes and all. Some lovely shapes and textures in your paintings. Well, at last, I have bit the bullet, bought three canvases and a whole stack of acrylic paints and new brushes and I’ll settle down to put my (ether, unreal, only on a computer) pictures into actual paint and canvas. These are for an exhbition in June, so I will tackle the first one tomorrow!


Hi Jana,
That first sketch is absolutely gorgeous, clear, brilliant, translucent. And hurray for experiments! I wouldn’t get anywhere without them. I just bought several point sizes of perma micron pens yesterday and am enjoying trying them out.

Did you make your 5×7 moleskin with wc paper? I have a one ready to disassemble and make, but haven’t selected thread or glue for binding. Plus, the hesitation of starting a bookbinding project.


Just beautiful! You do the best job on flowers. I love them. I’m so glad you stole them for us to enjoy. We stole camellias from our neighbors a few years ago when they moved out, and no one else was able to enjoy them. Now someone’s there again and we have to enjoy them from afar! šŸ˜‰


Love these reds. Looks like you are still working with cool/hot combinations of red, only now getting the best of both by bundling the different temperatures close together…a precise and sensitive way to do that, I think. Most people would just throw in greens here and there for contrast, but you confine your green very strictly to the bottom of the page, where you often place an alternate way to work out the rationale of the picture.


Have you ever though of painting as light as possible first then let it dry and use a wax pencil to produce your high lights then finnish the darker areas?


Hi Rick, That’s an interesting idea. I hadn’t though of that but it makes
sense since the wax would probably also serve as a resist. Have you tried
it? Jana


Hah – justice!

Some bastard’s been stealing the roses from my front garden – ALL off them – so I feel no pity for a thief.

If you wanted them, why didn’t you ask nicely and offer money. If your neighbour is decent, they won’t expect you to pay anyway, but STEALING IS WRONG.

And I’m just grumpy about having no roses when my garden should be beautiful – so take no notice, except the don’t steal bit. :o(



Hey Bob, Thanks for the comment. Sorry someone is stealing your roses. In my story I explained that nobody lives in that house and hasn’t for a year, so there’s nobody there to enjoy the roses, so I’m just giving them the appreciation they deserve and nobody is harmed by it.



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