How to paint Cosmos Flowers

Cosmos flowers on a rainy misty day:

Want to paint cosmos flowers? With each blog I do, I like to include artistic tips. So there is always something for artists to learn from my blogs and website.

On the day we landed up in Delta Park, west of Johannesburg:

Our eldest daughter picked us up and then a friend, intending to have a lovely outing together in spite of the weather.

Sometimes the weather isn’t great for painting outdoors. But, because you’re found yourself in a lovely spot, you can’t miss the opportunity of taking photos. Here now, was the chance to gather visual aid material I could use later. Which I have!

Cosmos flowers grow in Delta Park

Photo of the river running through Delta Park, Johannesburg.

On this day in 2009 it had been raining. We waited quietly in the car until the rain stopped. Then I jumped out of the car and took as many photos as I could, of the tranquil atmosphere around us. To me that was exciting. Mist always has its own impress charm.

And been Easter time, what do you think? Cosmos flowers were out waving in the soft misty breeze. Cosmos, I couldn’t resist. Here were fields of them!

How to paint cosmos flowers?

I hate pictures with tight posies of flowers. They don’t look natural.

I like painting cosmos in their natural state, out in the open weeds and all. If you leave out most of the stalks in your painting, it brings out and accentuates the feeling of extreme freedom the cosmos flowers represent.

But in the watercolour painting illustrated here, I didn’t include any close-up cosmos, like I usually do. I had thought of doing a composition that consisted of a field of distant cosmos. I don’t think I’ll do that again. Tiny spots just don’t do justice to their profound beauty. It’s more impressive with a few close-up cosmos in the arrangement, don’t you think!?

Cosmos flowers in Delta Park

A4 Watercolour 20.8×29.3cm: Cosmos flowers in Delta Park. The cosmos painted against dark background show up more easily.

I’ve also noted that a horizontal composition of cosmos looks better than a vertical composition. In the vertical setup the cosmos flowers look crushed-up, from both sides!

And as to size:

A5 watercolours of cosmos flowers are too confined. A4, A3 and A2 sized paintings of cosmos flowers are more exciting. You can really feel the feeling of their freedom in bigger sized compositions.

Here is another link on this website about doing plein-air painting:

  • Check out the page: Plein-air Painting Fieldwork
  • And also check out the Plein-air Painting category in future. Will be displaying more paintings soon, which I did long ago.

If you want to know where Delta Park is, here is a google map of the place:

Cosmos flowers in Delta Park

Delta Park is west of Johannesburg, South Africa. It is also a sanctuary for wild birds.

Field of Wild Cosmos Flowers

Field of cosmos flowers:

Field of cosmos flowers

Photo of cosmos flowers on a farm on the East Rand, Transvaal, South Africa.

This photo was taken of a Kendal farm. That is, the farm next to the one our family owned on the East Rand, South Africa.

As you can see the outbuildings were neglected and occupied by vagrants who hung their washing on the fence between the two farms.

As to the watercolour I painted from the photograph:

I obliterated the obstacle of the fence and the farm machinery that was crowding the composition. Instead I added a lot more cosmos flowers to the scene. My intention was to create an impressionistic impression of a field of cosmos flowers and a make-shift line of washing, blowing gently in the last summer breeze.

`As artists we train ourselves to feel the quality of our environment, see beauty and movement in everything. To catch a vision we see beyond the harshness of reality’.

When I lived out in the country, I liked to feel the joy of the day and the impact of living in the country, by making a point of listening to the birds singing and tweeting as I hung my washing on the line. And feel the breeze has it whispered through my hair, and saw the velt (grasslands), seeds of weeds and wild flowers waving in the breeze.

Watercolour of cosmos flowers.

Watercolour: Artist’s translation of the field of wild cosmos flowers.

How I painted the watercolour:

The painting may seem somewhat spotty close up, but if the painting is seen from a distance, you’ll see, it no longer looks spotty! But rather a contented homely ambience!

I blurred and lightened the hillside in the background to reduce spottiness, so that definition and highlights would be held within the middle of the painting format, where the darkest tones would show up the washing and the looseness of the cosmos flowers.

What the painting is all about:

Even though there is fine detail at the main point of interest, the watercolour was painted generally with freedom of expression to create a carefree mood. Because isn’t that what people feel when they see a field of cosmos, a feeling of freedom, light-hearted-ness, hope and joy of being alive.


I don’t like cosmos paintings when the composition is made up of a stiffly contrived posy of cosmos flowers. I like painting cosmos in their natural habitat, growing wild lose and free.

How do you like painting cosmos? And if you are not a painter, what appeals to you? If not a field of flowers growing wild perhaps then, a close-up abstract of one or two cosmos flowers surrounded with atmospheric energy?

If you want to see other photo demo blogs, you can start with ‘old willow stumps