In this classic TPK tutorial, Anna Maria Locke walks us through how to paint gorgeous loose watercolor flowers. These simple instructions will inspire you to add florals to all of your paper projects, from greeting cards to gift tags!
This loose watercolor flowers tutorial is one of the most popular gems on the TPK Blog! It’s a guest post by Anna of Anna Maria Locke, and it has resonated with watercolorists of all skill levels for a decade. In the tutorial, Anna will teach us how to paint vibrant, pretty flowers that you can use for a variety of purposes.
Before You Get Started …
Today’s project is a fabulous gateway tutorial for beginners. If you complete this project and want more watercolor goodness, consider enrolling in The Ultimate Beginner’s Watercolor Online Course. In the course, you’ll learn how to paint a variety of subjects, from florals to architecture to portraits!
Now, Let’s Paint Some Flowers!
Hi everyone! I’m Anna from Anna Maria Locke. Ever since I was little, I’ve always loved drawing, painting, and creating things. Today, I’m going to teach you how to paint watercolor flowers like the ones I used on my watercolor wedding invitations. You can use this technique to make your own note cards, birthday cards, place settings, wedding paper goods, or art to hang in your home!
Watercolor is my favorite medium to work with because it’s so fluid and organic. At the same time, it can also be unpredictable and unforgiving, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t seem to paint what you want. Part of the fun is letting the watercolors have control and just watching what comes out of the brush. Keep in mind that your own artistic style will emerge when you try this tutorial, and that is what’s so awesome about making art!
1. Gather Your Supplies
To get started, here are the supplies that you’ll need:
A jar or tub of water
Watercolor paints (Anything works; I am using a Crayola set that was less than $4. Also note that styrofoam egg cartons make awesome palettes.)
Brushes (My favorites are sizes 0, 2, and 6 round brushes)
Paper towel to soak up excess water and paint
Paper cutter (optional)
2. Cut the Paper
First, cut your paper into the sizes you want to work with. I cut mine into 6” by 8” pieces to fold into 6″ x 4″ greeting cards. (The 9″ x 12″ watercolor pad makes two cards per page with some scraps leftover that I turn into bookmarks.)
3. Choose Your Colors
Next, choose the colors you want to use to paint your loose watercolor flowers. For this tutorial, I’m going to use yellow-green, dark purple, pink, magenta, and dark blue. You can use whatever colors you want, but I recommend choosing 2-4 shades that are next to each other on the color wheel for the flowers, and any shade of green for the leaves and the stems.
4. Paint a Poppy
Let’s start by painting a poppy-esque flower. Dip a medium size round brush into water, pick up some dark blue paint, and start by painting a “U” shape (1). Then, fill in the “U” shape so it looks like a side view of petals, and then paint a thinner squiggly shape above the lower petals. Be sure to leave a very thin white space between what is now the front and the back petals of the flower (2).
Before your first flower has a chance to dry, quickly clean your brush in water and saturate it with purple paint. Dab the purple along the bottom of the flower, and allow it to bleed into the blue for a shaded effect (3). If the color comes on too dark, you can blot it with a paper towel. Then, using your smallest brush, pick up some green paint and add a blob of green to the bottom of the flower. Let the paint bleed into the petals if it’s still wet. In a delicate, quick motion, draw a line down from the flower for the stem (4).
5. Paint a Thistle
Now, let’s make a flower that looks like a thistle. I’m using magenta paint and my size 0 brush. Quickly swipe the paint down in curved lines from one central point in an umbrella shape (1). Pick up more water and paint as your brush dries out. Then use green paint to add a curved stem to the flower, again using a very quick and light sweep of the smallest brush (2).
6. Paint a Flower Bud
Now, let’s have a Bob Ross moment and make a happy little flower bud. Draw a curving stem, and then use blue paint to make a little blob at the end of the stem (1). Use purple paint to add a dot of contrasting purple to the bud (2).
7. Paint a Marigold
Now, paint a basic front-facing flower shape in blue (1). Blot it with a paper towel if necessary. Then, use your green paint to make a stem and a leaf (2). Finish up by painting dark dots in the center of the flower (3).
8. Paint Another Poppy
Now, paint another poppy flower in blue and purple, using a similar technique as the very first flower. Feel free to make it a slightly different shape!
9. Add More Details
Once you’ve painted your flowers, feel free to go through and add more details. My first poppy needed a little more contrast (1), and my thistle was looking a little sparse, so I went back and filled it in with some more color (2).
10. Enjoy — and Paint More Florals!
Once the paint dries, you can fold your watercolor paper in half and admire your gorgeous watercolor card! If you’re enjoying the painting process, go on to create a few more cards while you have the momentum.
To paint roses or peonies, make “C” shapes out from a central point with a small brush, making the “C’s” bigger as you extend out from the center.
And there you have it! I hope I’ve inspired you to pick up a brush and try some watercolor painting. It’s very relaxing and fun!
A big thanks to Anna for writing this tutorial, which has been a TPK staple for a decade now. Today, you can find Anna at her website here, or you can visit her Etsy shop here. It’s hard to see the simple steps in this tutorial and not go running for a watercolor palette and paintbrushes! Thank you very much for reading, and happy creating!
This article was first posted in March of 2013. It has been updated to include new photos and clearer information.