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This article is a reprint from the July-August, 1997 issue of Chip Chats.


Larry Cornwell demonstrates airbrushing of a rose



Larry Cornwell of Morton, Ill., is a well-known wood­carver who specializes in mammals, relief and stylized carvings. A professor of Business Computer Systems at Bradley University, Larry has been carving since 1989.

Because he is an expert with the airbrush, I asked him to set up this article. His excellent work is as follows:

Photo 1


I will describe the process that I used to paint the rose study model (Photo 1) created in the November­December, 1996, issue of Chip Chats, pp 88-9.   I used a Paasche Model AB airbrush (Photo 2), although other models of Paasche airbrush could be used for this project. The Paasche AB is a dual action airbrush. When the trigger is depressed, air is released. As the trigger is drawn back, the paint is released. The dual action allows the release of paint and the abilitv to drv the paint rapidly.  All paints used in the demonstration are Jo Sonja's Velvet Matt Finish Acrylic Gouache

Photo 2


Take the finished woodcarving or study model and prepare for painting.   I use KT Super Sealer for woodcarvings.  This serves as a sealer and also provides a white or light-colored surface to start painting.  I paint from light to dark with the airbrush.  You can also use white gesso instead of the KT Super Sealer, but you must be careful and thin the gesso so that the brush strokes do not show and the detail of the carving does not disappear.  In some cases I have used the airbrush to apply the gesso.  Mix half Jo Sonja's Gesso and water and then apply a light coat, drying each coat with the air­brush.  Repeat, applying light coats until the carving is white.

Photo 3

Photo 4

Painting the Rose 

First, paint all four petals a base color which would be the lightest color found in the rose.  This color could be applied with a pain-brush or airbrush.  If a paintbrush is used, be careful not to leave brush strokes.  I find it helpful to have a real rose or good photographs for reference.  Determine the lightest color on the rose (where the sun strikes the rose).  In this demonstration I used Napthol Crimson.  Apply a uniform coat on all four 

Apply the shadows to each petal. Study your references to determine where the shadows are located on the rose.  I used Napthol Crimson with a touch of Payne's Grey for the shadow. This paint was applied with the airbrush on both the interior and exterior of each petal (Photo 4). Shadows were applied to back edges, separations of petals, and indentations. More shadow was


Photo 5

Photo 6

Photo 7

Photo 8

 Finish Coat

Once you have attained the color and shadowing desired, assemble the four petals.  In this demonstration I mounted the rose on a small wooden base.  To preserve the painting I used a light coat of Blair 801 Matte Spray Var.  This varnish leaves a shiny finish that is not realistic (Photo 9).  I then used Kryon Dulling Spray No. 1310 to remove the shine (Photo 10).

Photo 8

Photo 10

White Rose 

I also painted an off-white rose. The steps for painting this rose are the same as above with the exception of the color paint.  The base coat was Titanium White. For the shadow I first added a touch of Yellow Oxide.  When I wanted a darker shadow I added a touch of Green Oxide to the shadow mix.  This off-white rose is illustrated in Photo 11 with two red roses.


Photo 11


John Hagensick's books: Carving the Rose ($15, postpaid), and Carving Realistic Flowers  ($17.45, postpaid), are available through L/C Publishing, 531 Thatcher Road, River For

Email at rockcreekcarvings

Last edited by Larry W. Cornwell on April 19, 2009