It seems a long time ago that I first set eyes on Blossom. She was one of four very white rhino sculptures crammed into a vacant shop unit in the Harlequin centre, Exeter, waiting to be painted. A life-size rhino is large and very three dimensional - I hadn’t really appreciated just how big Blossom’s surface area was until I started brushing the dust off her.

Blossom was going to be covered in flowers and needed a pale pink base coat, which I decided to brush on. I added some glaze medium to lessen the visible brush strokes. The near freezing late winter temperature in the painting space meant that even after three hours the paint wasn’t even touch dry! Obviously, I should have used a roller and dispensed with the glaze medium, but it’s easy to be wise after the event.

The next day I brought a heater and added a second pink coat and by the end of day two the base paint was dry. The rhinos are all from the same mould so in theory identical, but Blossom seemed to have a bit of a cross expression on her face. However, by the end of the day I felt that her frown was slightly less noticeable - and the brush strokes weren’t too obvious, either.

The next step was to draw the flowers in a permanent pen. It had been my intention to draw all the flowers and then paint them, but Blossom’s undulations gave the wisteria a mind of its own and it rambled where it wanted to go. I decided to stop drawing and start painting before wisteria covered everything!

As a botanical illustrator I paint in watercolour and use a restricted palette of six colours: two reds two blues and two yellows and no white paint. For Blossom I added two white paints to my palette - a mixing white and an opaque white. I had fun experimenting with the paint and colours, especially with the glaze medium which allowed me to thin paint and build up jewel like layers of colour.

After almost two weeks, Blossom was finished. She is covered with apple blossom, hollyhocks, passion flowers, honeysuckle, daffodils, poppies, teasels and more. She has spent a wonderful summer with her sponsors, Bernaville Nurseries, near Exeter. I really enjoyed painting her and I feel very privileged to be involved.

Kate Wilson

The Great Big Rhino Auction takes place on Thursday 3rd November at the Riveria International Conference Centre. For more information, please click here.

Quotes Loads to see and do, for a full day out. Quotes