WORK IN PROGRESSimage of a sturt pea flower



Swainsona formosa, the Sturt Desert Pea, is a low growing or prostrate plant. Specimens were first collected by William Dampier in 1699.  It was named Sturt Desert Pea after Charles Sturt who recorded seeing large numbers of the flower while exploring central Australia in 1844.


The colour is commonly an intense red with a glossy black centre. This centre can however vary through to various shades of red. The foliage is usually a grey-green colour. A rare pure white flower form also exists.  Other colours from cream to pale pink have also been recorded. 


The Sturt Desert Pea is native to the arid regions of central and north-western Australia and its range extends into all mainland Australian States except Victoria.  It is the floral emblem of South Australia.


My own experience of this striking plant was seeing it flowering in all its glory against the intense orange pindan soil of Western Australia's Pilbara region. An amazing sight!


Sturt Peas painted by Anne Blake



shown above: Sturt Desert Peas painted by Anne Blake


1-sketch design

1. Plan and sketch design


2- first fire

2. First Fire


3 - second fire

3. Second Fire


4 - third fire

4. Third Fire


Refer to above illustration


Photos of Sturt Peas taken by Anne Blake1.   Work your design to complement the shape of your porcelain.  Try to have photographs of the flower in front of you for reference when designing and painting, or if you are lucky the actual flowers! Sketch and transfer to the china using your preferred method.  As you become confident with the flower shape paint your design freehand, your flowers will achieve more movement and appear less stiff.


2.   Paint in the flowers using three values of iron reds e.g. Meissen Red and Banksia Red with deep shadows of Violet of Iron. I find Debbie Good's paints blend well and are stable in the firing process. Paint the flower centre using Nelson Black mixed with a touch of blue. Wipe out a highlight from the centre. Next paint in the stems and foliage using various shades of greens. Fire.


3.  If iron red colours are over-painted with certain other colours a chemical reaction can take place leading to a loss of the red's vibrancy or colour can burn out completely. To avoid this problem mask out the flower petals and centre (not the foliage or stems). Evaluate your design and add more flowers if required. cross-hatch colour into the background. Lightly paint in some shadow flowers. Remove masking and deepen colour on flower design. Fire.


4. Mask again over the flowers. Deepen background colours.  If you are adding more shadow flowers add them now and finally add more colour to the stems and foliage where needed. When you are happy with the background remove masking and give flowers a final wash of red where needed. Fire.



All Photographs are © A Blake 2014-2023.




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