How often do you use grey to paint florals? If your process is anything like mine, probably not very much. It can be stunning, though, so don’t overlook it. Watercolourist Renata Tot gave a FREE Demo using a lot of grey for some floral postcards, and I’m here to break down the process for you.
1. Watercolour Flowers
Step 1: Sketch
This art style requires almost no sketching at the beginning. Just draw a light, flowing set of lines to represent the plant’s stem. Draw as faintly as possible because you don’t want this sketch to show underneath the finished painting.
Step 2: Mix the Colours
You’ll want to mix your colours in advance because the actual painting process is pretty fast-paced to keep up with the water drying. Renata and I both used Etchr watercolours here. Mix enough so that you won’t have to interrupt the process and mix again.
Green = Leaf Green + Dark Brown
Blue = Sky Blue + Leaf Green
Yellow = Just Yellow + Burnt Sienna
Grey = Ultramarine Blue + Dark Brown
Step 3: The First Layer
Take the grey mixture and very faintly suggest the shapes of the flowers. These grey shapes create shadows, and because the grey is a mix instead of from a tube, the pigments will separate a bit, adding visual texture.
You don’t want to use an extreme neutral grey because it won’t give the same organic quality as a grey you mix yourself. Splatter some grey and then some yellow onto the page to enhance the composition. Don’t be shy about it!
Step 4: Flowers
For this step, move back and forth between different areas of the painting to take advantage of varying stages of paint dryness. The first thing to do is add the yellow and blue flowers. Then, while those are still wet, add brown to the yellow ones and plain Sky Blue to the blue ones for depth and visual texture.
The base of each flower is a bit of Dark Brown blended in while the other colour is still wet. Don’t overwork your flowers if they’re imperfect because watercolour looks ten times better imperfect than overworked.
For the leaves, blend some brown into a loose layer of the green mix. Splatter more yellow and blue onto the page for interest, and once again, don’t worry about being perfect.
Step 5: Ink
Find a reliable black fineliner pen and lightly draw the lines. Make a straight line for the stem but do it in light, loose, short strokes to ensure it’s not all stiff.
If you are a more experienced artist, you will be able to hold the pen very loosely and still make the lines connect into one line without too much trouble, and if you’re a beginner, now is an excellent time to practice coordination with the pen.
While doing this step, continually evaluate yourself to be sure you haven’t overdone it. If the lines don’t meet perfectly, that just adds personality!
Now, we’re going to make another card, this time juxtaposing the grey and the colour to create a soft illusion of depth.
2. Watercolour Berries
Step 1: Berries
The process for this piece will be similar to before, so if you’ve done the first one, this will be super simple. Use your yellow mix but add red and orange to make a soft orange, and you’re ready.
The tricky part is making sure that you use the correct technique when painting the berries because you want them to be three-dimensional. What Renata does, and what I find helpful, is to paint the shadow side, clean the brush, then blend out the highlight side from there while the shadow is still wet.
While the entire thing is still wet, add a small dark grey spot because all berries were once flowers, and there’s always a mark where the petals were. As always, splatter the page for nifty effects.
Step 2: More Berries
Follow this same process to add the berries in the foreground, and don’t worry if they overlap because the layering effect is quite cool. For the dots on top of the orange berries, just use grey.
Notice how deep the picture looks with the overlapping! It seems so real now! Of course, orange splatters for effect are always a great idea. They just add some extra pizzaz to you artwork, just like what we did in our realistic watercolour desserts tutorial.
Step 3: Lines
Here is my favourite part of making this painting. We’re not just making the stems out of black ink for this painting. We’re also making leaves and even more berries. We get even more cool layering and a fun contrast between the realistic lineless watercolour and the bold lines.
Want to try painting more types of flowers? We've got you covered with our blog on literally the easiest watercolour flowers for beginners!
I enjoyed making these, and I hope you did, too. For more fun paintings, check out Renata’s Mini Workshop Recording!
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