When I was a teenager, my grandfather spent a lot of time with me, giving me pointers and tips on how to draw.
As I look back, I wished we’d spent more time going over the finer techniques of creating gorgeous landscapes, cityscapes and beautiful scenes. I have so many questions. How did he create crowds of people who looked so lifelike, but didn’t have so much detail? How does one do that? How does one create the waterways of Venice or the scene of a side street in Paris or the color-drenched homes and stone walkways of Bruges?
I look back with lots of gratitude for the hours I spent with my grandpa. Mixed in with gratitude is regret I didn’t ask more questions. Grandpa was not someone who talked excessively.
That is really an understatement. Grandpa didn’t waste words. He and I could hold a conversation, especially on our frequent lunch dates to Wendy’s, but he was never what one would call ‘chatty.’ Do you have a family member like that? He was one of those people who thought a lot.
One of my favorite series of paintings my grandfather did was huge, full size water color sheets of flowers. He painted almond blossoms and irises and sunflowers and even some roses. My grandma loved the artichoke blooms and almond blossoms so much, she forbid Grandpa to sell the originals! So they made high resolution watercolor prints of those and sold them for years and years. Those paintings were what might call perineal best sellers.
My grandparents cultivated a garden that could compete with the gardens on the covers of the finest magazines and social media posts. Several of Grandpa’s magnificent and impressive paintings that were loved and admired so much were inspired by the beauties in the garden. I recall Grandma going through the Burpee catalog (remember PAPER catalogs) and choosing several bulb flowers one year. Those flowers regenerated new blooms year after year after year. So much fun to watch them grow.
As I grew up into adulthood, I continued to carry a love for painting. I especially love to paint flowers. Unfortunately, like so many of us, I don’t have the hours to spend cultivating extensive paintings or botanical drawings, at least not in a several hour session. However, one of the things I’ve learned how to do is create fun flower paintings in less than an hour and with no (or minimal) drawing.
Today I’m sharing how I paint fun, spring bouquets in less than thirty minutes. If you’d like to go straight to the video, click on the link below 🙂
You only need a few things:
- Watercolor paper (any size). If you have odd sizes and scraps, that works really well for this project.
- Watercolor paint: choose 3-5 colors, the brighter the better.
- A jar with water for rinsing brushes
- Paper towel or art rag for drying the brushes
- Paint brushes: a variety of sizes is good. I usually like to use an 8 filbert, a 6 round and a 12 round with a teeny tiny one (2) for small splatters. BUT use what you have.
- Masking tape
Okay, a few pointers to start out: these aren’t botanical drawings. We’re going for the essence of the flower, not an exact, detailed guide. The more you do, the better you will get. I promise you that.
If you have fresh flowers in front of you, fantastic. If not, grab a picture from a magazine or print something off of your phone or Pinterest. For the floral bouquet, it’s a great idea to have different shaped flowers and greenery. The different shapes creates an intriguing picture. Think of it as a feast for the eye.
Also, you can follow along in the video. It takes about 16 minutes.
- Start by taping down the watercolor paper to the table or a book or a board. Watercolor paper tends to bubble and bend when it gets wet. (The exception will be if you are using a spiral bound book for your watercolors).
- Get your colors nice and wet. Be sure to rinse out the watercolor brush thoroughly so the colors don’t merge. Unless you are intentionally making a new color (such as a lovely peach) We want them to blend on the paper, not the watercolor pan!
- The one thing I like to do with a pencil is draw a line for the heights of the floral heads and the stalks. This helps me stay in proportion.
- Start by adding in the heads of the flowers. Be sure to leave lots of white space. Add in the flower stalks. Tap some of the paint to create the sense of splattering. Let it dry for a minute in-between. Otherwise, the paint will all meld together and we’ll loose the sense of lots of dots and splattering.
- While the heads dry, paint the stalks. Drag the color from the heads of the flowers a bit; this creates a lovely sense of continuation and the color mixed with the green creates a softness.
- Now, add in the some of the surrounding flowers, nice and light with the splattering. If you’re concerned about merging colors use a piece of watercolor paper to cover. It’s okay if this gets messy, we’ll use it for another project!
- This is where you might want to start thinking of creating depth in the bouquet. Look at where the shadows fall with the bouquet. Notice the dark spots on the bottom of the blooms and where the flowers create a shade of smaller flowers or leaves. To create that sense of depth, saturate the brush with paint and add in another layer of color. Let it dry.
- Now, take that color and start splattering around the bouquet. If I’ve used the green to add depth to the leaves and stalks, I’ll sprinkles some splattering around the area.
- At this point, I have the flowers and the leaves with some depth. I’ll evaluate. Do I need more flowers? Does it look complete? Does the greenery need to extend out to create that sense of fullness.
- Start adding some sprinkles. Be bold! If they cause some blending of other colors, that’s okay. It creates that sense of a wild flower look.
Sometimes I wonder what Grandpa would think of my splatter art flowers. Would he be amused? I think he would give me some tips on how to make them better. I miss him so much and would dearly love to talk with him and ask him all my questions. Still, the memories are sweet. He so wanted me to develop my professional life. I think he would be pleased to see me continue with painting flowers as a hobby while I continue to work in my career.