Exploring Paint: Learn to Create Gestural Florals | Victoria Johnson | Skillshare

Exploring Paint: Learn to Create Gestural Florals

Victoria Johnson, English artist living in Rome.

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7 Lessons (24m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Floral sketchbook: flip through my sketchbook to see the possibilities.

    • 3. Floral reference: find imagery of beautiful flowers and get inspired.

    • 4. Tools: see what I'm using - it's nothing fancy!

    • 5. Mark-making: find out what your tools and materials can do and let them do the work.

    • 6. Painting demo: create a beautiful floral bouquet!

    • 7. Project: create your project as you learn then use what you learned to create more!


About This Class

This class is about creating pretty, gestural florals in a fluid and spontaneous way. You'll learn painting and mark-making techniques that emulate floral forms and allow your tools and materials to do the hard work for you.  

For your project you'll use the techniques you’ve learned to paint a small, pretty bouquet of flowers on a postcard-sized piece of watercolor paper.

You'll need to be somewhat familiar with a brush, paints and palette, knowing how to rinse your brush, mix a few colours, etc.  

The class should appeal to a variety of experience levels. The beginner will be learning techniques that help them create beautiful art, even if they can't draw perfectly.  More accomplished artists can enjoy the experience of working loosely, with immediacy and spontaneity.  All levels will value the opportunity to explore and experiment.



1. Introduction: Hi, my name is Victoria Johnson. I've been an artist and designer for 20 years. Today I want to show you how to do something that I really enjoy doing, which is these gestural floral bouquets. First of all, we're going to do some mark-making techniques so that we can figure out how the paints and the materials work, and then we're going to go ahead and produce a beautiful little A5 sized floral bouquet on watercolor paper. 2. Floral sketchbook: flip through my sketchbook to see the possibilities.: Just so you can see how varied these florals can be, I'm going to show you a few of my sketches in my sketchbook. Hope you enjoy looking. 3. Floral reference: find imagery of beautiful flowers and get inspired.: So before starting the project, I strongly recommend that you find some visual reference of florals that will influence the colors and the compositions and show you how flowers grow. You can go on Pinterest and you will find an abundance of beautiful imagery. 4. Tools: see what I'm using - it's nothing fancy!: I just want to talk you through some of the brushes that I'll be using today. These first two are from a cheap pack from Amazon. They're flat-headed brushes. Next ones are traditional watercolor brushes, but they're not super high-quality. They're from a local art shop. These next two were really quite expensive and they're really nice quality. They're very fine and you can create good details with them. The next one was from Ikea, I think, in a kid's pack. It's about as low quality is it gets. Next is my nib pen, which I love using for very fine lines with a lot of character. After that, we have these Tombow pens, which are tapered watercolor brushes. There is the exact same version of the same thing, but much less expensive from our stationary store in England. Then I have my very beaten-up-looking Winsor & Newton watercolor palette. There's yet another one. Feel free to look after yours better than I look after mine. The reason they look such a mess is because I mix gouache in with them. For pink, I like to use a good ink because the ink creates a much more intense color than any other type of paint that I've used. Here I have, I think, it was a yogurt pop, and I'm using the glass part of it from my water and I'm using the lid as my palette. Lastly, I've got this Fabriano postcard watercolor paper pad. Each piece of paper is the size of a postcard. When you turn it over, they have stamped the back of a postcard on it, which I think is really nice and makes a really good gift or souvenir to keep. 5. Mark-making: find out what your tools and materials can do and let them do the work.: Let's try some different market-making techniques. First, I'm going to use this fairly decent quality watercolor brush, and I'm going to show you how the actual shape of a good watercolor brush could actually create a leaf shape just by dragging it because it's tapered already. Can also create thin lines with it. Then drag leaves off the thin lines and then we're already looking at something that looks like a sprig with leaves on. We can use the brush to stamp, which is always a nice effect, which also looks very leaf-like automatically. You can also use it to just pull out, but using on its side to pull out the rows, so shape a blob. Then you can drop ink into the center of that, and it's already starting to look distinctly rows like. If you lie the brush on its side, and dab stamp print with the color, it starts to look a little bit like the layers of petals. For example, you could use a smaller, finer brush to do very fine controlled lines. If you flick your wrist in the correct way, very, very lightly touching the paper, and the quicker the better because the more clean the arc will be. You start to get very nice looking fronts. You can then stamp your leaves onto these. This is a smaller brush so these are little delicate leaves. You can just keep stamping in leaf formation. This will result to fern like leaf formation there. You can also, this is an interesting one, use a flat edged brush. Again, back to stamping. That's interesting, isn't it? Imagine that now in a seed pod, circular composition. That's pretty, we can try out this big fat [inaudible] brush and see what that does. That's quite nice. That's very nice. Remember that when you're painting flow as the scale, a variety of scales is very important. Like an interesting composition, let's try a large blob with a lot of water and not a lot of paint. Drag the paint now so that it's very watery and then pull some of that paint back off, then you can drop blobs of paint into there, which is quite pretty. Maybe we could have a go with that flat edged brush again. What do we get? Make sure it's nice and flat. Look, see that's quite nice. Let's go back into this rose over here and use the flat edge of the brush to give a bit of a center. We could also try out this tombow pencil, the cheap version of the tombow pencil [inaudible]. A little blob on. Pull the color out. You could use it to stamp fern-like leaves. You can actually draw with it correctly. Because it's tapered again, you can drag it, and fairly quickly, you get a leaf shape. We could also try out the nid pen. If we can find it, which I just have. Here we go. Draw out some little flower shapes with the nid pen. Some dots, maybe some dots around the edge of this one. Play a bit, see what happens. Maybe we could do a bit more of a realistic rose. This is quite tricky and bear in mind, I've been doing this for a long time, but it's just a question of practice. I like using these flat brushes to do a basic floral shape because they stop you being too fiddly and getting hung up. Being super realistic, because you actually call day. So this flower is overlapping that one and that's good because flowers do overlap. Let's put back in just using little strokes, and so concentric circles but made up of little separate strokes. That starts to look quite rose-like, probably best way for it to drive it. Just to show you, you can then go vacuum in the dark, very dark, intense color to give it a center. We could add a bit more detail to this one while we're at it. What else can we do? I think we've pretty much tried all our materials. Here's a classic watercolor technique that's very nice. Paint your flower formation using as little color as possible, keeping it quite wet. You can even have less color than that so it's almost invisible, and drop your color into the very center of the flower because that's what happens in nature. The center tends to be darker, and then the color disperses out and you've got an altar with this technique, you've got an automatic pretty flower. So these are the techniques and you can try different sizes, different shapes, you can do this endlessly until you come up with things that you like. Put back details into some of these experiments, and these are some of the mark-making and painting techniques that we're going to employ when we do the real floral with a variety of colors in a nice composition. But actually that doesn't look too bad as it is, does it? Okay, on to the next part. 6. Painting demo: create a beautiful floral bouquet!: Let's get started. You'll probably look at my reference from Pinterest and think, "Well, that looks nothing like what is painting." But the point is, to use it as inspiration to look at the colors, to look at the composition, to look at the way the actual flowers grow, instead of depending heavily on your own imagination. So I'm looking at the image ray using my medium-price, fairly decent, water color brush. I'm going to start with a corally pink rose as the main focal point and I'm just dragging the paint off. Then I'm going to put back in a little bit of detail, by just gently sweeping the brush in short, [inaudible] in concentric circles. I'm using the very tip of the brush to make these controlled lines, and because the flower is wet, obviously they're merging in a way that creates quite unnatural floral look. Then, let's have a really nice, beautiful pink, one of the really nice, bright pink, with lots of intensity. Just pulled this off there. Then, over here we could have a more muted rose pink, and we've got this trio of roses that form the main body of the composition, because it's good to think in terms of threes, to form a focal point. You'll see how I think in terms of twos and threes when I'm creating the foliage as well. So we're drawing these into lines again. Put some in the center because that's where the intensity of color on a flower usually is, remember. Then, let's try and use the flat edge of the brush in the technique that I showed you there, I'm going to sort of create a dark eggplant color. I was going to mix in my nasty old wood color palette. But as a treat, I'm going to use this pristine, spanking, new, clean palette here, so that you can actually see what the devil am doing. So I'm making a nice, deep, egg plant, aubergine color and I'm going to put some stalky flower formations around the edge of the flowers to imply that they're behind. Now, I've got one little batch there, so I'm going to add a little batch of them here to balance it out. Maybe another little batch of them down here, so I've got a little section of that color and technique here, here, and here, which is the rule of threes again, which creates a nice balanced composition. I'm not worrying too much about where they go or whether they're neatly and spaced between, because natural forms rarely are super neat. Then, look at this, this is nice, see that part there where this flower has bled into this flower, that's really attractive as a good thing, a good serendipitous accident. Let's try out the big, cheap brush again, I like the big, cheap brush. We're going to do some little blue flowers here, 1, 2, 3, 4, I'm dragging out from the center, look I'm twisting, I'm contorting myself, so that I'm getting each petal drugged out from the center because it's the tapering of the brush that creates the floral-like shape. You can have a little flower on its side, behind it, maybe be another one there. That's pretty, and look, rule of twos and threes, let's balance that with another one up there, just one. I'm contorting myself again to drag the pen up from the center in the right way there. Then, let's create some intensity in the center of those by dropping in a little, tiny, bit of the blue, now creates a center. We could try out the pen, and so one of that, 1, 2, and 3, and then we'll drag out those in a way that we tried with the mark making. What else? We definitely need a few leaves. So this is my favorite type of green, it's a mixture of white goulash with a combination of blue, brown and green. The brown and the white added to the blue and gray makes this grayish, sagey green, which is one of my favorites. So I'm going to do the arcing strokes that we did in the test and stamp, stamp, stamp, stamp, stamp, stamp. Don't forget things overlap, that's okay. Stamp, stamp, stamp, and maybe another one up here, stamp, stamp, stamp. It's starting to look pretty. Then, another one coming out from behind there because there's a space and maybe a bit more down here because there is a bit of space down here, stamp, stamp, stamp, stamp. Then, we could add in a bit of vibrant green with our tumble pens, now you can use them as actual real pens, real felt tips, and because they're tauped, and they look like you've done it with a brush. Introducing little leaf shapes. I would like to use a little bit pink to add on some pretty details to these stalks, you don't even have to have a warm pastel, remember nothing is perfect, perfection is boring. So stick them in where they look right. Just to finish it off, we could have some of these little in there, see. A blob, never mind, it's all good. I lift some of that off before I stick my hand in and drag it across. This is how you lift off unwanted paint, get a dry brush, gently rest it on the paint, and back to the pen. Make sure I haven't got too much on this time, and another one there, and maybe fill this space here with one. Now, we can put some centers into these and we definitely need to put some centers into the roses. So let's take our dark rosy pink and go. We've got the flowers all facing that way, it's growing up that way. So we're going to break our center goal like that, indicate our petals like that, then what do we have here? We have the soft, corally orangey pink, same thing. We can mix a little bit of the rosy color in here. Just three tiny little dabs is enough, and then because the pink is so intense, we need a slightly dark color on this one to make it shows three tiny dabs on there, and that's it. That is your pretty rose bouquet and you can elaborate on that or I think it's fine just as it is. Look, not every space is filled in, it's not super realistic, it's about decorating with beautiful color and forms, and line widths, and shapes. 7. Project: create your project as you learn then use what you learned to create more! : So now you've created your beautiful floral bouquets following the demonstration, you can go on Pinterest, find some reference, and create your own composition using the mark making techniques that we tried out, and don't worry, some of them will probably be rubbish, and then some of them will be beautiful and the good thing about this small format is that you can create lots of them quickly. So you can just chuck the rubbish ones away and keep the lovely ones, put them in a frame or give them as a gift for Mother's Day. If you want to post them onto Instagram, I would be delighted to see them, but don't forget to tag me at Victoria Johnson design hashtag Victoria Skillshare. That way, I can find them easily and I'm really looking forward to seeing what everybody does.