Paper by JLee

WATERCOLOR TUTORIAL: PAINTING SUNFLOWERS

Watercolor, TutorialJennifer WhisenhuntComment
Paper by JLee: Sunflower Watercolor Tutorial

Today we're going to paint watercolor sunflowers! I love painting flowers and as a native Kansan, sunflowers are among my favorite. This sunflower stationery set is one of my best sellers too! To begin, if you haven't read it yet, take a look at this post to learn more about the supplies I use. Today, you'll need some yellow, orange and brown watercolor paints, sizes 2 and 12 Cotman round paint brushes, watercolor paper and masking fluid. In this post I have a step-by-step guide to painting sunflowers as well as a time-lapse video showing the whole process (scroll to the bottom for the video or click here!). 

To start, draw a rough outline of the flower. Begin with one, medium size circle in the middle of the page which will eventually become the area with all the seeds. Then, draw a larger circle around it as a guide for how long to make the petals. Draw each petal so it spans from the smaller circle to the larger one. Add curve to your petals to make them appear like there is some bend as they grow from the seed base.

Paper by JLee: Sunflower Watercolor Tutorial

Once you have the basics outlined, start painting in the petals with a yellow wash and medium-size round brush (I use Cotman size 12). I paint each petal individually and vary the amount of pigment on my brush at this stage. 

Then, add orange to the tips of the petals and blend it with the yellow watercolor. This will add depth and shadow effect to the petals.

Paper by JLee: Sunflower Watercolor Tutorial

While this layer is drying, add a few dots of masking fluid to the lower left hand area of the center circle to represent seeds. 

Paper by JLee: Sunflower Watercolor Tutorial

Next, add some brown paint to the interior of the petals to give them some shadow effect. Then, blend with more yellow paint.

Before this layer dries completely, use a crumbled paper towel to dab some paint off of the middle area of the petals. This creates highlight where the petals "bend" from the center of the flower to the edge of the petals. 

Paper by JLee: Sunflower Watercolor Tutorial

Once this layer and the masking fluid are dry, add a brown wash to the center of the flower. You can tell in the second photo below that I didn't wait long enough and the brown paint bled into the petals. If this happens, it isn't a huge deal since you can just add more layers of paint to cover any parts you don't like. 

Once this is dry, darken the center with more pigment to create depth. 

Paper by JLee: Sunflower Watercolor Tutorial

Then, keep adding more color to the petals until you're satisfied! I typically have three layers of watercolor on the petals and two on the center seed area. With each new layer of petal paint, I keep adding darker color to the edges of the petals and dabbing color away from the center areas to create highlight and shadow. 

Paper by JLee: Sunflower Watercolor Tutorial

Once everything is dry, take a small round brush (I use add a Cotman size 2) and add thin, brown strokes to each petal. Follow the curve of the petal to emphasize its shape.  

Paper by JLee: Sunflower Watercolor Tutorial

Finally, remove the bits of masking fluid (I use tweezers), and you're done! In the video below I go over the petals with a third layer of paint after the small brown strokes to intensify the color of the petals. Keep adding until you're satisfied! 

Paper by JLee: Sunflower Watercolor Tutorial

That's it! How did it go? You're a rockstar so I bet it turned out beautifully. Shop my sunflower stationery here! If you have any questions shoot me an email at paperbyjlee@gmail.com. 

Have fun watercoloring! 

Jennifer


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