Cindy Briggs


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How to Create Simple Watercolor Flowers

watercolor flowers

How to Create Simple Watercolor Flowers

Beginner artists sometimes find it daunting to paint flowers. When this happens, I always tell my students to take a deep calming breath start seeing the world in simple shapes. Everything is composed of shapes, so looking at your subject, consider the general recognizable outside shape.  This works for almost any subject, whether it’s a building, a figure, scenery, fruit, flowers, or animal. Since many people want to enjoy painting simple watercolor flowers, I’ll share easy-to-follow steps to do them here. We’re painting a tulip on this example, but feel free to go for any other flower. The important thing is to think simple. If you’re painting a different flower, you can apply similar methods.

Step One: Sketch the Flower

When drawing almost any shape, consider doing a continuous line drawing. Especially with organic shapes, you can draw with flowing lines. For a simple tulip, you’ll simply need a couple of oval shapes and lines. The secret here is to take your line on a journey. This ensures your tulip features a more organic shape. Like using a fine point permanent marker to draw, it makes me accept my imperfect lines and go with the flow.watercolor flowers

Step Two: Wet the paper.

Wet-on-wet watercolor painting allows the colors to mingle freely. You can control where the paint flows by just putting water down within the flower shape. Let’s begin with painting inside the general tulip shape with clear water. You don’t want a puddle of water–just a thin layer of water, so if you held it up, it wouldn’t drip off the paper.

watercolor flowersStep Three: Apply the First Color Layer

Once you’re done wetting your flower, apply New Gamboge on the tulip petals as your first layer. Work quickly so the color flows. I like to use the side of my brush to cover more area quickly. You don’t have to have the exact same colors as mine; any yellow will do.

watercolor flowersStep Four: Apply the Second Color

While the petals are still wet, brush in some Cadmium Orange around the edges. You can pick any color to act as your petals’ second color; rose or red could be pretty too. Try not to over mix your colors as you paint—let the colors just mingle wet-in-wet. Think “get in and get out” to keep your painting loose and fresh.

watercolor flowersStep Five: Paint the Stem

Pull some of the tulip floral colors down into the stem, then add some Phthalo Yellow Green and brush down the stem. Other greens will work too.

watercolor flowersStep Six: Make Adjustments as Necessary

Let the colors dry before adding any more layers of color. You can paint in another layer of color on some petals to create the suggestion of deeper values within the center petals. Your tulip should be ready by now. Feel free to make adjustments as necessary, such as adding more details and splattering some of the colors used if you’d like.

watercolor flowersFinal Note

From that short and straightforward tutorial, you can see that watercolor flowers aren’t as complicated to paint as they seem. Remember to start with simple shapes and allow your pen, brush, and colors to illustrate the flowers freely. From there, you’ll find that creating beautiful art is calming and enjoyable. If you’re wondering about the brush I use, I often use Dynasty Black Gold 311 Quill Brush #4. It’s a bit hard to find in local art stores.  You can find it at for under $15.  It offers a great point, exceptional performance, and holds the paint and water just right. You can find a video of this tutorial on my YouTube channel: I also offer other tutorials and even online classes and workshops. If you’re interested in those, click the corresponding links and check back regularly for updates. You can also subscribe to my newsletter to receive event invitations, preview workshops, and free painting tips and lessons.



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