Birthday Roses

Pinkaliciousness…okay, I know that’s not a real word, it’s a combination of the words, pink and deliciousness, however, it does perfectly describe the yummy pink roses I got for my birthday. They were so full of delicious color that although I couldn’t devour them like cookies, I could memorialize them by attempting to paint their beauty.

Birthday Roses, 24X12 oil on canvas by Laura Kirste Campbell

“Birthday Roses”, 24″ X 12″, oil on canvas, by Laura Kirste Campbell

Actually, the story of this rosy birthday gift is as lovely as the bouquet…one evening while while I was gone, my husband was busy baking my favorite cookies as a birthday treat, so he sent our 16 year old son on the task of purchasing birthday flowers. Our son felt clueless, so my husband suggested that he go into my art studio and look around for clues as to what color and type of flower his mother would appreciate. I love imagining David contemplating ideas on how to personally bless his mother, and how Mark made this a teaching moment that adds another reason why David will make a great husband one day. Aw, it swells my heart with love for my men! So, David went to the floral section of the grocery store and selected two-dozen large pink rose buds, apple green hydrangeas and architectural palm leaves, which he sunk deep in an over-sized clear vertical vase. It was captivating and gorgeous! I thought it was a spectacular arrangement from a professional florist! And as the rose buds opened over the next few days, they became even more beautiful!

Painting from photos, Laura Kirste Campbell

“Birthday Roses”, in progress. Painting from photos I took on my iPhone and viewed on my iPad.

I knew the roses wouldn’t last long, so I spent a few hours one day setting up a variety of still life arrangements with them, and ended up with over 200 reference photos for painting! Many pinkalicious rose paintings waiting in the wings! My first inspiration came from a birthday card sent to me on Facebook by a friend. I piled the roses on top of each other and added a strong source of light from one side. When I added a few single petals to the table, the light shone through them, casting a colorful shadow across the surface that captivated my interest, and motivated me to paint the still life on canvas.

The slender 24″ X 12″ canvas seemed like an interesting format to fit the horizontal composition I created. I decided to use oil paint for this subject, and started by mixing a palette of pinkalicious colors.

Rose Painting Palette

I began by sketching in the general shapes and composition…

Oil painting, layer one

and then filling those shapes in with bright and dark hues, so the depth and light would glow through the following layers of color.

Oil painting, layer two

Left side detail, Birthday Roses, by Laura Kirste Campbell

I worked slowly, stepping back often to see the painting from a distance. I’m not comfortable with oil painting enough to be able to say I was having fun, (until the end). It was hard work to try to recount the beauty I saw in the lighting, the richness of the limited color palette, and softness and painterly quality I wanted to achieve. I see the challenge of fine art painting as a series of problems to be solved, when I believe the solutions are discovered and resolved, the work is finished.

Detail, Birthday Roses by Laura Kirste Campbell

I take breaks when I don’t know what step to take next. I’m learning to make only a few brush strokes, then step away again to access. This process keeps me from overworking the painting. Even so, at one point I wiped away all the paint on the right side of the painting and started over with a new approach to the rendering the roses in shadow. I decided to omit the detail, and blur the edges so that the flower colors melted into their environment. But, honestly, I preferred the painting when it was in progress. Next time I’ll be brave enough to stop when the painting isn’t complete, if I love it at that stage. Besides, we can still shine with beauty, even though we’re still ‘works in progress’.

Palette finger painting by Laura Kirste Campbell

Before I tossed my paper color palette into the trash I had to play in the yummy colors one last time with my fingers. It’s similar to using my fingers to lick the bowl when baking! Deliciousness for the eyes instead of the tongue!

Birthday Roses, 24X12 oil on canvas by Laura Kirste Campbell

“Birthday Roses”, 24″ X 12″, oil on canvas, by Laura Kirste Campbell. The far left side of the painting is only the gesso-covered canvas, no oil paint.

Once I felt satisfied with the painting being complete, I felt it accurately portrayed the beauty I saw in the roses themselves, and the love with which they were given. At a deeper level I also see the highlights of David discovering his new gift-giving skills. And from a spiritual perspective, I am blessed with another year on earth where Jesus is is my ultimate source of love and light that enhances every simple day with delicious beauty…one could say, beautyliciousness!

Creatively Yours,


  1. Laura, this is beautiful. What a lovely bouquet of roses that were given to you in love. You did a great job trying to capture their beauty.

  2. Grace Hermann says:

    Hi Laura, what a lovely painting!  It speaks volumes of the love with which the roses were given.  What a talent!  And what a lovely family you have!  🙂

  3. Beautiful – the story, the painting and your wonderful thoughts at the end.  So privileged to have you share this with me/us

  4. Thank you, precious friends for your loving encouragement!

Share your Thoughts