No matter what medium you paint in, nature subjects will come up again and again in most scenes you paint. The combined spontaneity and delicateness of watercolour makes it perfect for florals, whether you’re interested in realism or a more whimsical style!
Leamy Basto’s 30-minute art class will show you how to paint whimsical floral embellishments in a monochromatic palette, and all you need to follow along are your paints, a round brush and some hot press paper!
Step 1: Practice Brushstrokes
Any subject you paint is going to be composed of several smaller, simpler brushstrokes. If you don’t practice these first, you’re going to have trouble with the main painting.
It’s like trying to build a house when you haven’t learned how to drive a nail properly. If you’re already an experienced watercolourist, you may not need to do this step, but it’s still a good idea because there’s no such thing as too much practice.
Start with some thin strokes, to practice controlling the brush in a straight line with very little pressure. Then, practice thick strokes, so that you know you can apply a consistent amount of pressure and keep the thickness the same. After that, you can go through a series of swirly lines where you practice alternating line width and colour saturation.
A note on the colour palette: We’re using monochromatic colours for this project, meaning the palette is just multiple shades of the same colour. My palette is just a bit different than Leamy’s, I decided to use four different blues and mix a bit of brown into each of them to tie them together. Prussian Blue and Sky Blue turned green when I added blue, but I decided to work with that and see what would happen!
Step 2: Simple Leaves and Flowers
Next, experiment with different shapes of flowers and leaves. Since this is a minimal style, don’t get too carried away with realism or detail. Experiment with tiny brushstrokes, wide brushstrokes, different colours in the palette, and different amounts of water. The basic shapes that we’re making here can be used as leaves, petals, or entire flowers in and of themselves!
Something I found helpful was to keep the leaf shapes as alike as possible when I was trying to make a group of the same plant. This takes practice, and if your hand is shaky like mine you might have trouble, but it goes a long way to add some neatness and professionalism to the picture.
Step 3: Paint a Tree
Let’s make a little tree now! We’ll start with the basic shapes. Paint some little circles in different shades of blue, and add dark blue stems to them. These can be leaves or flowers in your mind, whichever you like the best. That’s the beauty of a simple style.
When you’ve practised the circles enough to feel good about it, paint a tree using the thin lines you practised earlier and put different circles on the ends. Notice how the different shades of blue create a sense of dimension and lighting without the need for any shading! Also, the layered effect of the light blue circles over the branches makes them look like little branches in the foliage of the tree.
Step 4: Geometric Flowers
You can also layer your shapes and put them together to make flowers! Here are some nice little geometric flowers made with diamond shapes. If the paint doesn’t naturally want to pool at one end of the diamonds and make the colour gradient, you can layer it on later. Whether you like hard edges or soft edges between the colours is up to you! Once you have made these flowers, see what else you can make using just geometric shapes.
Step 5: Tiny Grass Flowers
To make little flowers like you’d see on grasses or weeds, make little dots of paint close to one another. If you do these dots over a thin line, it will look like flowers on a stem. Paint darker dots toward the middle, so that it looks like the light is shining through the edges. Incidentally, this is my favourite type of flower to see outside.
I hope you enjoyed painting these nice little flowers! This type of painting is a good skill to have if you’re a calligrapher because embellishing the edges of a quote or saying with flowers will make it look more professional and immersive.
If you’d like to learn more from Leamy Basto, check out her 30-minute art class! And of course, feel free to subscribe to our email newsletter and hear about more great project ideas! Thank you so much and have a great time painting!