Wilted Flower Studies

Flowers have always been something that amaze me, even when they’ve passed their prime. These wilted flower studies are intended to document the ways that different species of flower age and their transformation into death.

About flowers

When you think of a flowers anatomy, their entire structure is made for pollination and the attraction of pollinators.

Insects see ultraviolet light and in that light, even the most “plain” looking flowers are brightly colored and point to the area they store nectar in. The layering of most petals are mathematical. They grow in a spiral pattern using the golden ratio 1.618 (also known as Phi). It’s not exactly because they know they’re growing that way, more that it’s the way that makes the most sense. It provides as little over lap as possible giving them greater sun exposure. Plus the growth hormones that are released by the plant settle into spots that have little to no existing leaves or petals to gobble it up. As the plant bits grow, they repel each other while growing out to fill the available space.

Why so much science? Understanding how something grows and the base of it’s structure, makes it easier to draw from memory and in general. When you have a question about what a little blob in your reference is, knowing about the anatomy might give you the anther*. (*part of the flower that holds pollen)


Daisies or daisy like flowers are actually compound or composite flowers. The center of the flower is covered in smaller flowers that grow using the golden ratio.

Daisies and the like are the flower I started with. They seem to keep their classic silhouette until they are completely dead. Brown spotting and discoloration of the petals are definitely signs the flower, as a whole, has died. The petals get a droopy appearance, as they dry, curl upon themselves, and become crisp. The curling of the petals is what proved troublesome to capture.


Roses keep their shape as they dry, their petals discolor and curl, and the head of the flower proves too heavy as the stem is no longer filled with water and is unable to hold the weight so it droops downward. The only way this doesn’t happen is if the plant is hung upside down while drying or if it is laying down. The petal’s position is compromised when you lay it on its side though, so if you’re looking to keep the form of the rose, than hanging is best. This is mostly the case with cut roses, ones that die on the plant lose their petals progressively until they are nothing but a center. (photo at the end)



Hibiscus are different from the first two as the flower curls into itself as it dies. The color drains, becoming brown, and falls off of the plant completely. In its brown state you could turn it to dust by closing your hand around it. Apparently hibiscus tea is thing, I found that the flower, sans stamen, is dried til it’s crispy and hard, the color in this state is like a burnt sienna of ruddy reddish brown. The reference I found were cut flowers which seem to lose their color and dry in a twisting pattern. The veins and textures were fun to capture in a sketch.


The last one was the most difficult, but also the most interesting because of the way it transformed as it died. It didn’t even really look like a tulip anymore. I think drawing this was the first time I’d properly looked at the center of a tulip. They are usually closed, so seeing it so transformed by the aging process is fascinating. The texture is similar to crispy crape paper and while you could tell the flowers former color, pink, it turned to a dusty rose color at the lightest with a cool brown as the darkest. I’ve now been introduced to a species called a parrot tulip, through my research for a reference photo, they are gorgeous and I plan on trying to capture them on paper soon.



 “Why dying flowers?” You may ask. Because I actually do think that they have a beauty to them. I also had an idea for a finished piece that had a wilted or dead flower in it. I wanted to see which one would fit the best with the composition.Which one do you like the best? How do they make you feel? Do you do art studies before you make an art piece?

What did you think? Leave a comment!