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.

Are you free to do what you want?

How artists make free time to paint in their busy day:

Most people are tired down by their obligation to duty. They say their day is full of things they must do and everyone has to earn a living. And oh, how they wish they were free to take time out to paint too!

The secret is …you can!

It’s a matter of making time for yourself and getting your act together! If you don’t, someone will find work for you to do for you! Why should they work, when there is a workaholic available?!

Are you free to paint?

Who is making you work so hard? You or someone else?

How do you find time for yourself, you may ask?

Years ago I learnt how to make time for myself. Don’t forget I had five children and a mother is always busy!

  • What I did is take note of my energy levels. When I was feeling fresh and my mind alert, and when I ran out of stream.
  • Choosing when I wanted to paint, I would prepare well ahead of time.
  • When the children were small I would prepare meals and cookies and leave them in the fridge for the family to help themselves whenever they felt hungry.
  • Haw, you say, what about when you have a baby? I painted while the baby was sleeping.
  • So what about housework? If you make up a simple schedule and take note of your priorities, you’ll find things go much smoother. Of cause the right attitude to what you have to do, helps a lot. The secret here is to make up your mind up to enjoy every minute of whatever you are doing.
  • When the family grew older: I was free to paint without interruption when they were at school, at work, or out doing sports.
  • Where possible share activities: whether they are fun activities or doing housework. Tasks go quicker when the workload is shared. Also teamwork builds unity.
  • Get your family and spouse to accept the fact you need time to be creative in. Remember everyone has the right to have their `space’ to achieve their personal aspirations.

What’s more, if you want something bad enough, you’ll make time, no matter the opposition.

Cosmos blow free in the wind.

Photo of cosmos flowers under the trees in the country, north/east of Middleberg, Eastern Transvaal, South Africa.

This charming little place was out in the country north/east of Middleberg in the Eastern Transvaal, South Africa.

The wonder of cosmos:

I don’t think there is a person that doesn’t love cosmos, especially when the flowers grow wild and free in the velt (grasslands). Somehow they give your heart and mind a lift and you feel free and able to do anything you wish… the sky isn’t the limit.

It’s a lovely day you think. The grass and cosmos is waving so freely, to and fro in the breeze, making you feel you could run and roll in the grass, picking cosmos flowers as you go. It feels great to be alive. Isn’t it so! Have you ever felt this way about cosmos?

Cosmos blowing free in the wind.

Watercolour of cosmos flowers blowing free in the wind.

Considering the composition of the cosmos watercolour:

One of the Trolls in painting: is having a wall of trees blocking the view and the entrance into the painting. So I decided to move the trees a little over to the left and give a little more open free space to the right. Not too much, as the trees helped to break the severe contour edge of the background hills. The formation of the tree trunks and the hills is important. They help to form a stabilizing grid factor in the composition.

  1. First I applied liquid masking.
  2. Then I painted the foliage of the trees with sap green.
  3. When the sap green paint was dried, I applied French ultramarine blue to the sky.
  4. I changed the contour of the distant hills so they won’t be so straight.
  5. On with the grass: splashing and dropping different shades of green paint to give it a feeling of freedom.
  6. Rubbing off the masking I filled in the trunks and branches of the trees.
  7. Now to fill in the cosmos: Aaah, this is the exciting part …deciding which are going to be pink and which are going to be white.
  8. I’m always telling people to reduce detail, but in this case the charm of the painting was the detail and flow of flowers and leaves suggesting they are blowing in the wind.

Personally I like to paint cosmos wild, loose and free, not precise stiff little posy pictures. And you, how do you feel about cosmos flowers? Please write a comment and tell me how you like to paint cosmos. And of cause, how you make time to paint!

If you want to see more of my blogs and photo demos click on the following links: