Hello Artists Hearts, and Happy New Year!
A lot has been happening here at home that has made it difficult to post at the usual time and I apologize for keeping you in suspense.  I am finally back at work and ready to post Stage 6 of "The Last Rose of Summer," along with an update report with details below.

Watercolor The Last Rose of Summer by Jan Howlett Stage 6We trust you had a wonderful Christmas season as we celebrated the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  Christmas is such a special time of year when we remember with fresh eyes and hearts the birth of this precious baby Who brought the Gift of Salvation to the world.  Clearly our Heavenly Father invites us to receive the Gift of all gifts, new life here and now and for all Eternity through His beloved Son.

Speaking of new beginnings it is wonderful to know that when we accept Christ into our hearts and lives by faith, we have a clean slate and a brand new start at life to become the person God created us to be.  Each day then becomes one of anticipation as we seek His will.

And as we begin a New Year so come new opportunities to start fresh and new beginnings can revive the creative heart.  I think of that truth now when I work on "The Last Rose of Summer" knowing that as one season ends so a new season will begin and bring new life once again.  In this case the new life will bring forth many more beautiful roses each Spring for all who love roses or nature to enjoy.

As each new layer or veil of color is gently washed over the previous layer we can see the increasing depth of beauty and glow that will continue to bring vibrancy and life to this painting.   As you can see our rose has developed considerably over the past few weeks and with it the story of this rose continues taking shape.  We can actually begin to imagine the perfume and delicacy of this gorgeous bloom.  With the addition of the veined leaves and stems we begin to wonder if there will be little visitors arriving soon to enjoy this plant that we couldn't imagine before. 

Cropped segment of Watercolor The Last Rose of Summer by Jan Howlett It is an enjoyable challenge to begin building up and creating the depth of all the different values of greens needed for the various plains and shadows for the many leaves (both hidden and obvious) in the background.  It is such fun to use my darks in smooth gradated washes from light to dark to describe the surface of some of the leaves to read as curling under or twisting backwards into the shadowy background.  Sometimes it feels like my brush just naturally sculpts each leaf individually and with each stroke, bend or curve it brings further realism.  A long way to go yet, but it is great fun.

I need to be careful and not get carried away though so I don't lose the sunlit leaves in the foreground, which I have worked so hard to preserve, yet still capture textures and the three dimensional aspects for the veins and bug holes that tell us we have had, or may yet have, visitors to add interest to our rose story.

I will continue to work on this lovely rose for our next post.  I have a little surprise planned to include in this composition near the last stages of this painting, so be sure to stay with us. 

Until then, stay creative and paint as often as you can.  Let each day be one of looking for new ideas that you can express with your paint brush.  If you don't have time to literally sketch it out on paper, then take a few moments and just write down a brief description for later use.  Encapsulate your thoughts!

You may be surprised as you see your list growing with great new ideas!  Before you know it you will have plenty of new inspiration to paint to your heart's content!  It will be very satisfying to see those ideas take shape and bring you joy over the next many months.  Happy painting everyone!