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Chinese Watercolour: Chrysanthemums

Updated on March 29, 2013
BlossomSB profile image

Since school, Bronwen has been interested in art, has joined Artists' groups where she has lived, and occasionally has even won prizes.

Chrysanthemum, the Autumn Gentleman

This is the fourth Chinese Gentleman or Noble that we have discussed. It is the Chrysanthemum and it is the flower that represents Autumn. We have already seen the plum blossom for Winter, the orchid for Spring and the bamboo for Summer.

As with the other Gentlemen, the chrysanthemum is also connected with Chinese symbolism. Each of the Gentlemen are associated with high ideals of moral behaviour and the chrysanthemum reminds us of courage. This is one of the last plants to flower before the winter, so it needs courage and sturdiness to stand up to the cold winds and even the early snow. The flower shows defiance of difficult conditions and is triumphant in the face of adversity, displaying its blooms in all their glory.

For painting the chrysanthemum, you can use a variety of watercolour paints, but traditionally it is done simply, using just the ink stick and a tube of yellow to produce the colour.

Roll the Brush to Form the Petals
Roll the Brush to Form the Petals | Source

Step 1: The Petals

To paint the petals you will only need a medium sized brush and yellow watercolour paint. I chose Cadmium which is rather bright. You may prefer to make them a shade of russet.

  • Mix the paint with a little water, but then empty the brush a little so that it is not too heavily charged or it may smudge.
  • First decide in your mind's eye just where you want to place the stem and flowers.
  • When you have decided, place the base of the brush where the base of the first petal is to be and roll it slightly to make the petal a little wide. In the example, only half of each flower is showing, so the petals are all on the top part of the flower, but you can choose how you want to site your flowers and how many you wish to put in your painting. The base of the brush makes the centre of the flower.
  • Paint some more flowers and add a bud or two, if you wish.

Add the Leaves
Add the Leaves | Source

Step 2: The Leaves

Firstly, make sure you know where you want to place the leaves.

  • If you are using the ink stick, add a little water to the ink stone and rub the stick on the stone to produce the black ink. In a palette (a tin lid or a throw-away plastic picnic plate will do), mix the ink with a little of the yellow to make a dark green.
  • The process here is similar to the way that you made the petals. Lightly press the base of the medium-sized brush near where you will form the stem, but this time you need to roll the brush further to make the shape of the leaves as they are bigger than the petals.
  • Make some of the leaves larger and make others smaller, especially near the top of the stem.

Add the Stem and Smaller Leaves
Add the Stem and Smaller Leaves | Source

Step 3: The Stem and Petal Outline

Add a little more yellow to make the stem slightly paler than the leaves.

  • Draw in the stem, curving it, so that it looks attractive.
  • Making the paint even paler, and being sure to keep the brush not too wet, outline the petals. As the chrysanthemum petals are often curved, show this with an extra line on some of the petals.
  • With a finer brush and a darker colour, mark in the veins on the leaves and add a few small leaves as well.

Add the Finishing Touches
Add the Finishing Touches | Source

Step 4: The Flower Centres

  • Using the black ink, create the flower centres.
  • Check that you have completed all that you need to have done.

Your painting is now ready for framing and would make a lovely gift. If you want it to look really authentic, ask an Asian framer to put it on a scroll.

You could even make a set of the four Gentlemen if you have four matching frames.

Look Below

Notice the painting below. The placement of the flowers and leaves is slightly different, the whole of one flower is visible, the leaves are smaller and more yellow has been used. For the leaves, part of the brush has been charged with the dark green and part with yellow. This makes an interesting effect, as most leaves are not the same colour all over.

Chinese watercolour painting can be a lovely hobby as it is so creative. The materials that are needed are not very expensive, either, and this is a boon if you make a mistake and need to start over again.

Chrysanthemums a Second Time
Chrysanthemums a Second Time | Source


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    • BlossomSB profile imageAUTHOR

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 

      6 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Alise-Evon: I'm so glad you enjoyed my hub. You're right, it is relaxing and the results can be very satisfying, too.

    • profile image

      Alise- Evon 

      6 years ago

      Beautiful work. I appreciate being able to see the flowers being created right in front of me in your step-by-step photos- I always like to learn where things "come from." This looks like a really relaxing type of art form, also. Thanks for teaching us about it.

    • BlossomSB profile imageAUTHOR

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 

      6 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Nellieanna: Thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed it and if it has encouraged you to get back to those paints, then great! Go for it - and have a good day.

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 

      6 years ago from TEXAS

      Lovely! Reminds me of the Sumi-e painting I attempted and enjoyed some time ago. Your instructions are quite clear. I love the 'finishing touches' details. I've been far too long away from my painting, methinks! :-)

    • BlossomSB profile imageAUTHOR

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 

      6 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      thost: Do get out those paints, it is such fun. Thank you for your vote, too.

    • thost profile image


      6 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      This is very interesting; I must get out my paints and try this. I will vote this Hub up.

    • BlossomSB profile imageAUTHOR

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 

      6 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      barbat79: How lovely! Thank you for your great comments. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    • barbat79 profile image

      B A Tobin 

      6 years ago from Connnecticut

      Oh my goodness! This is an amazing hub! So beautiful and informational as well!

    • BlossomSB profile imageAUTHOR

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 

      6 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      pstraubie48: Do try! I'm sure you would have fun. I love the smell of chrysanthemums, too. Thank you for the angels. God bless you.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      6 years ago from sunny Florida

      Now I will have to go back and read the others you have mentioned. This is so fascinating.

      I would love to paint such bright and happy looking flowers. I may have to just give this a try.

      Sending Angels and blessings to you.

    • BlossomSB profile imageAUTHOR

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 

      6 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      honggamingzone: Glad you enjoyed it.

      jhamann: Someone just asked me what was my favourite, but I'm not sure. I love watercolour, but I also think acrylic, oils and pastels are fun, too.

    • jhamann profile image

      Jamie Lee Hamann 

      6 years ago from Reno NV

      Thank you. I love watercolor. Jamie

    • honggamingzone profile image


      6 years ago

      thanx for your post


    • shara63 profile image


      6 years ago from Delhi

      wonderful as always!....Long live BlossomSB..we have to learn a lot from you..thankyou dear teacher!!

    • BlossomSB profile imageAUTHOR

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 

      6 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Mhatter99: Thank you. You're a great commenter.

      Carol7777: Thank you for visiting.

      tobusiness: Those first few strokes can be scary, a delight or a disaster! However, I love sharing it with others.

      kidscrafts: It's such fun buying straight from the artist, a great experience. We did that in England. The paintings were displayed along the fence outside Green Park and every time I look at the painting I remember where we bought it. Happy memories.

      Annie Miller: Glad you enjoyed it.

      cat on a soapbox: Thank you. I still love teaching and helping people to enjoy being creative.

      europewalker: Thank you. Have a great day.

      teachersjoe52: Good morning brother! It's not always so simple, but as the materials are not expensive we can always tear it up and start again. God bless you, too.

    • teacherjoe52 profile image


      6 years ago

      Good morning little sister.

      Wow, you make it look so easy and simple.

      God bless you.

    • europewalker profile image


      6 years ago

      Beautiful work and photos.

    • cat on a soapbox profile image

      Catherine Tally 

      6 years ago from Los Angeles

      Inspirational, as always! You have a gift for teaching.

      Thank you!

    • Annie Miller profile image

      Annie Miller 

      6 years ago from Wichita Falls, Texas

      Gorgeous how-to! Thank you.

    • kidscrafts profile image


      6 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      I love those kind of paintings! I bought one divided in two big frames when I was in Vancouver. The artist was painting in a park.... and I couldn't resist. Thank you for sharing the different steps for this painting!

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 

      6 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

      Blossom, how wonderfully creative? It never ceases to amaze me how the first stroke of paint on a bare canvas can be transformed into such beautiful images, now that is magic. Thank you for the lesson.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      Lovely work and great demo!

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 

      6 years ago from San Francisco

      Beautiful and interesting. Thank you for this.


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