A rose by any other name would… still be unbelievably fun to paint!

Roses have beguiled me since oil painting first blossomed as my young artist’s ambition. Let’s walk through 10 steps to painting yellow roses together, and then I’ll share some of my other rose paintings from years past.

This is one of my recent paintings, and the entire 2 hour process of painting it was filmed for an art instructional video available to our Master Oil Painting Monthly Members. If you want to learn more about the membership make sure you read to the end.


10 Steps to your own Yellow Rose Painting


We don’t have to begin with the background washes, but playing with swirling color and value shapes helps set the stage for the star of the show. The intense lavender color in the distance is meant to contrast and harmonize with the brilliant yellows that will be added to the rose.

Small brushstrokes of color were swished around to add the semblance of plants or rocks behind the flower. My plan was to leave the background fairly ambiguous and simple – to contrast with the sophistication of the rose.


Using a trusty paper towel or rag, I created an appealing shape for the rose by wiping off the background color back to the white of the panel. The edges were left fuzzy to help the rose harmonize with the background – letting some of the background colors softly combine with the rose colors creates a more integrated whole, rather than a stiff cardboard cutout.


A saturated wash of cad yellow medium is brushed into the rose shape. Keeping the value in the middle value range allows me to add darker shadows and bright highlights on top


Crimson ruffles on the edge of a rose are a delicious delight to design and paint. I begin with a lighter mid value orange – a color somewhere between cadmium orange and cad yellow medium – then add quinacridone red to the mix for a two-degree darker shadow and finish the edge with more quin red and a touch of alizarin crimson or cad red medium.  


Part of the frustration of painting roses comes from trying to paint a convincing rose, rather than looking at the rose as a series of values and shapes. Simplify. Rose petals become easier when we realize that they are smaller shapes within a larger shape. Our quest is to arrange those smaller shapes into a pleasing pattern using colors and values.


The middle shapes – or petals – were becoming too busy and overwhelming so I took a large bristle brush and added a rest area – a larger shadow shape among the bright petals.


The scene was feeling sparse without some leaves to clothe the painting. Since it is such a small panel, I wanted to keep the leaves to a minimum – just enough to lead the viewer around and up to the yellow rose.

Remember too, the leaves don’t need to resemble cookie cutter rose leaf shapes. Rose leaves come in a beautiful assortment of colors, values, edges and sizes. Leaves are fantastic for satisfying the viewer’s appetite for visual treats.


As much as I love purple and gold compliments, the lavender was too strong. I added dark olive greens over the lavender while letting remnants remain – enough for vitality but not so much that it distracts from the center of interest.


How much detail and refinement to add to the leaves is a subjective decision – there isn’t a right or wrong answer – there are no rules.

I wanted to keep the leaves simple, but I did add some hints of sky blue to the upward facing angles – primarily to increase the warm and cool color temperature contrasts. Plus, a highlight and shadow here and there are a lot of fun to play with


Once I decided I was done, I brought in the keen eye of Kristie. The thin dark stem under the rose was intended to help the rose seem delicate – Kristie informed me that it did indeed look delicate – and dead.

So, I went to the easel and brought the stem back to life – she was right of course. How easy it is for us artists to become blind to seemingly obvious weaknesses in our work. I hope you have someone who will give your paintings an honest critique before you present them to the public.

Now let’s see the entire process from start to finish in a fast motion video to bring it all together:


If you’re a current Master Oil Painting Monthly Member you can view the full 2 hour art instructional video by logging in here:

Student Portal

If you’re not a Monthly Member and would like to view this video, along with hours and hours of additional art training, you can learn more and join us here:


Here are a few other roses from years past

Sincere Desire 16×20 by Bill Inman


Among Friends 24×20 by Bill Inman


Eternal Summer 30×40 by Bill Inman


Splendor 6×8 by Bill Inman

Now go on a treasure hunt for your own yellow rose to paint and create a masterpiece!