How to Paint Small Floral Paintings

As the summer heat intensifies, my energy to take on big projects tends to wear down! That’s one of the reasons I love to paint small paintings.

Painting small flower paintings, as inspired by the gorgeous pink Gerber daisies my brother gave to me, is one way to lose myself in paint and beauty for a few minutes in the stillness of the cool morning light.

I love a slow start to a Monday. For the last several months, the travel for work has been minimal. I’ve been able to get up early and lean into the week in the quiet of the morning. The morning starts with a cup of coffee and time in the Bible, lately the Psalms. Then, I move into something a bit creative. Monday mornings are a good time for planning, but even before that it’s refreshing start with something creative.

Creativity, whether painting, sculpting, kneading dough, or gardening uses different parts of our brain. Studies show different kinds of creativity decrease stress and may improve physical symptoms. There are so many benefits to cultivating a creative habit. Several studies are cited in this article over at Medical News Today.

But I digress. Back to Monday morning and small painting projects.

Since the week often gets lost in all sorts of projects, obligations, and demands, if I don’t paint for joy in the morning, and especially on Monday, the painting may not get done.

So, here we are, on a Monday morning with a few minutes.

A couple of years ago I talked and wrote a lot about developing a 15-minute creative practice, even creating a hashtag for it on social media. I’d noticed a shift in the way I entered into the day when I spent fifteen to thirty minutes in a creative practice before the check off list of work and home life started. I’d gotten out of the habit of that early morning creative routine lately. Honestly, I needed to reengage that creative part of brain and body.

So, with a cup of coffee in hand, here are a few examples of small paintings and a video if you’d like to paint along with me.

I will mention that with the limitations of video recording (and my limited skills in movie making!) I don’t get to show the final details of the flowers.

Materials for Watercolor Sketches

Here is what I used for these flowers:

  • Watercolor paper, random sizes
  • Masking tape (to tape down the paper so the paper won’t warp when it gets wet
  • A table or sketch board to tape the watercolor paper down on
  • Pencil – mechanical pencil, sketching pencil, whatever is around
  • Eraser (optional)
  • Watercolor: Blue, pink, yellow, green (optional- you can create a green with the blue and yellow), payne’s gray or black (another optional color)
  • Micron pen for details, I use size #5

The ink layers (if I choose to use them) and the additional layers of watercolor are added after the first layer of paint is dry. That’s the part I often don’t add into the YouTube videos. Sometimes the additional layering of pen and paint isn’t elaborate, yet the details make the difference, don’t they?

As I shared in these pictures, I added the details to some and left a more washy, loose feel in another painting. It’s fun to play with different styles.

I wanted to share what the actual painting looked like after it was complete.

As you can see, even with the same colors, each one has a distinct look. Leaving it loose or cleaning the painting up with the micron pen makes a difference. The way the vase is shaped, the decor of the window or the wallpaper, all these small details creates a fun and unique painting.

Tips for painting small paintings

  • Don’t worry about the size of the paper.

I often use scraps or cut up an odd piece of watercolor paper from a larger project. I have a paper trimmer to get straight lines, but I don’t worry about sizing. Part of the beauty of these small projects is the multitude and variety of sizing.

  • As with other projects, avoid setting the main object in the middle of the painting.

Set the vase to the side. Or, if the vase is in the middle, have some of the flowers falling out on one side, anything to create a sense of the eye moving around the painting.

  • When painting small, it is more likely the colors will “bleed” together.

We don’t have the space to spread out and allow the paint to dry as we paint another corner! You’ll see in the video that one of the paintings bleeds all over the place! Ahhhh. It’s a pain, but it’s not unfixable.

To avoid that, I suggest painting a few paintings at a time.

Move around from one to another. In the same amount of time, you’ll discover it is just as easy to paint small paintings three as it is to paint one. We spend less time anxious about how the one painting is coming out as we move from painting to painting.

What if we don’t finish painting in the time allotted?

I know what it’s like when there is not a lot of time to paint. Typically, I’ll set a timer and when it goes off, I’ve got to move on!

The beauty of watercolor is you can come back. It will patient wait for you to finish up on the next session, whether that is before bed or another morning.

It is a good idea to set up your paintings on a sketching board. That way it can be moved and out of the way. I have a corner of a table where I set up my painting in the corner of my bedroom. Do what works for you so that it is easy to come back and restart. Half the battle of keeping a creative habit is making it easy to start and stop.