Watercolour on 7" x 10" Bockingford Paper

Snake’s Head Fritillary – Homage to CRM!

A watercolour of “Fritillaria Meleagris”, after the great Scottish Architect, Artist and Designer, Charles Rennie Mackintosh. (A small commission which I completed recently). I thought it would be relatively straightforward to make a copy of one of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s most iconic flower paintings.

Getting the drawing right and finding the colour mixes that came close enough was one thing but mimicking the exact way “Toshie” must have laid down his watercolour washes, was quite another!

It is certainly true that “most learning takes place by copying” (as one of my old lecturers was fond of telling us!)

I learned several things about Mackintosh’s technique from this exercise: Firstly, only when you draw and paint it do you really appreciate the care and attention Mackintosh gave to getting the delicate structure of the Fritillaria just right.

Secondly, he simplifies the pattern – if you look at my photo (below), you’ll notice that the chequered pattern is not quite so regimented in nature!

photo of a fritillary flower
Snake’s Head Fritillary, Fife

Thirdly, he carefully arranged the flowers and leaves to create a pleasing composition, utilising the negative spaces to balance the structure of his design. In the original, he has pencilled in three little centre marks which suggest that he consciously planned the drawing to fit the page. (I left these out in my version).

Fourthly, the darker colour washes on the flower heads have been applied while the lighter first washes were still wet, achieving a balance between harder edges and the bits where colours run into each other.

Very instructive and quite satisfying to achieve what I think is a reasonable approximation of the original!

(With hindsight, I should probably have changed the inscription from “Walberswick” to “Glenrothes” or something more local!)