Sally Franklin: Colorful, Detailed Illustrations and Watercolors

By Cassie Rief in Featured Artists > Watercolor Paintings

Fabrics and textiles and prints—oh, my! Years spent as a fashion illustrator for a major department store has attuned Sally Franklin to the fabulous design work visible in the diverse, intricate folds and patterns of fabric.

“You’ll see fabric draped in backgrounds, underneath objects, crumbled up in a basket or as the sole focus of a work!” Sally said.

Sally can be found in Westchester, New York’s Hudson River Valley, dabbling with pencil, colored pencil and watercolor. What makes her work so fascinating is that it is always fresh and modern.

“I will never stop studying,” she said. “There is always something new to learn. I love finding new materials to experiment with and learning about the work of many different artists.”

Hydrangea in a Mason Jar, for example, is bold and delicate, all in one—it’s a striking composition containing a weighty black background and a subtle foreground. There are intricate layers of expert shadowing and color that make every individual petal stand out from surrounding petals, as well as clever white and black outlines that help separate petal from leaf.

hydrangea in mason jar

Altogether, I’m dazzled by the kaleidoscope of splashy color, and the way Sally pairs faint pastels with deep purples and blues for added depth. The mason jar, itself, is intriguing in the way the light blurs its transparency so all we see are reflections of blush and white hydrangeas lightly kissing the glass.

Green Thumb is an accurate description for this next painting, but it’s Sally’s successful composition full of great texture that amazes me. Never have I seen the rough, sandpapery texture of cement translate so beautifully within an illustration.


There are many industrial surfaces here—from the prickly cement to the abrasive brick and even the ragged, painted wood. Plentiful, thick foliage bursts forth from the flowerpots, each one with a fascinating variety of leafy shapes. I also like the recurring theme of red seen in the bricks, pots, and worn wood—all of that subdued red makes it possible for the greenery in this painting to really pop.

And, as promised, Sally’s love of fabric is is clearly seen in Half-Priced Basket, below.

half priced basket

To the far left is a white tapestry containing cornflower blue flowers that lead the eye to the brilliant blue cloth lying on top of the pile. A heavy, red and taupe ornamental piece lies below that. . . and here’s where you’ll notice something VERY cool:

If you continue to allow your eyes to move from fabric to fabric, you’ll notice that each piece of cloth contains a color mimicked in its neighboring cloth—creating a subtle, yet very intentional composition that draws the eye from one place to another. What an amazing work of art in colored pencil!

Sally’s illustrations and watercolors are meticulously detailed, with each line and object well-defined, and shading effects that blend seamlessly into one another. Don’t miss more of her excellent work—visit her website and explore various flora, still life, landscapes and figurative pieces today!


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