Fritillary – Photos & Sketchbook

Fritillary studies –

Pink Snake's Head fritillary
Iffley Meadows in Oxfordshire

Fritillaria meleagris, (Snake’s Head Fritillary)

April is the flowering time for the beautiful Fritillary (F. meleagris) which is a bulbous perennial to 30cm in height, with lance-shaped, greyish-green leaves and 1-2 nodding, bell-shaped purple flowers, (but sometimes white with tinges of red/pink or tinges of pale yellow/green) the tepals tessellated with pale pink in a chequerboard fashion.

White Snake's Head Fritillary
Fritillary at Iffley Meadows in Oxfordshire

A Present

At the end of March I was given a pot of cultivated Fritillary meleagris as a get well present by my husband. I have always wanted to grow them in a section of the lawn that has wildflowers growing and which luckily stays moist. This reminded me that the Fritillaries should be nearly in flower at Iffley meadows in Oxford.

These belong to the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxford Wildlife trust, BBOWT and we visited the meadows at the beginning of April. The sun was shining, the wind very cold and the meadows very wet, Fritillary meleagris thrive in damp conditions.

‘We took two hundred photographs!’

The beauty of digital photography is that the collection can be sifted and only the ones that meet your criteria are kept.

Drawings of Fritillary meleagris

I had started a few drawings and watercolour sketches from my pot of Fritillary meleagris before making the pilgrimage to Iffley and once home used both the actual cultivated bought flowers together with photographs taken on the day.

Pink Snake's Head fritillary
Fritillary drawing 1
Pink Snake's Head fritillary
Fritillary drawing 2
Pink Snake's Head fritillary
Fritillary drawing 3


I like to use lots of different media, but I always like to start my projects with a few drawings just so that I can study the subject in detail and begin to understand what I am drawing. These three studies were drawn in my A5 sketchbook, these books are lovely to work in as the colour of the paper works well in both monochrome and colour. I buy them from Khadi papers and I recommend them, they are termed notebooks on the website, but make lovely sketchbooks.

‘The one tip I would like to give is to initially to use a faint line so that mistakes can be easily erased’

Introducing colour

My initial paintings were completed in my Khadi sketchbook using Winsor & Newton watercolours I try to paint quickly trying to respond to the subject in front of me without procrastination!

Pink Snake's Head fritillary
watercolour study


I always start with pale colour and washes first and gradually add detail.

Tip: ‘Work on a few studies at once so that you are not tempted to over work paintings whilst still wet as it can make them muddy and they lose there translucency’

Pink Snake's Head fritillary
watercolour study


I love the colour in this painting, again it was one of four or five paintings/drawings that were being worked on at a time. I wanted it to be loose, soft but also detailed. It was painted on Hahnemuhle Carnet Aquarelle this paper is 400gsm and doesn’t cockle. Sadly I have only been able to get it in small pads, I would love to use large sheets of it for my larger scale florals.


My final example again on Hahnemuhle Carnet Aquarelle, a group of Fritillary. I have only shown a few photographs taken at Iffley and six of my twenty six drawings and paintings, but hope that you have enjoyed looking at them and perhaps think about making your own pilgrimage to see something that inspires you.

Group of Pink Snake's Head fritillary
watercolour study


Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trusts

Khadi papers

Winsor Newton Art materials

Hahnemuhle Papers and Sketchbooks 




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