From Blobs to Blooms: Easy Watercolor Florals for Beginners | Joly Poa | Skillshare

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From Blobs to Blooms: Easy Watercolor Florals for Beginners

teacher avatar Joly Poa, Watercolor Artist

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

15 Lessons (43m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Supplies

    • 3. Tips for Beginners

    • 4. How to Hold a Brush

    • 5. Controlling Water

    • 6. Value

    • 7. Brush Stroke Exercise

    • 8. Leaves

    • 9. Fillers

    • 10. Five Petal Flower

    • 11. Rose

    • 12. Tips for Painting Roses

    • 13. Class Project Demo Part 1

    • 14. Class Project Demo Part 2

    • 15. Final Thoughts

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About This Class

Way back in 2013 as a watercolor newbie, I would often get frustrated as what appeared on watercolor paper did not match what I had imagined in my mind. I had wanted to paint beautiful roses but would always end up just blobs of paint. 5 years of learning from mistakes and from other amazing artists has made me a much better watercolorist today than I was way back then. And those are what I would like to share with you in this class. It is my sincere hope that watching my classes would shorten that learning curve for you, and I am hoping that you would be able to pick up some new techniques.

This class is for beginners and I made it really easy to follow. We will talk about choosing materials, holding brushes, and painting different brush strokes to form a flower. I will be sharing with you my favorite rose technique! As the class progresses, we will be adding some leaves and fillers. This will enable you to form a mini floral bouquet by the end of the class. These mini floral bouquets may be used for invitations, greeting cards, or as gifts. Many, such as myself, display these in our homes or workplaces to have something to appreciate in the middle of a busy day.

And of course, I am going to give you tips on how to not end up with just blobs on your paper.


Remember to enjoy the process of painting. 

Happy Painting!



Meet Your Teacher

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Joly Poa

Watercolor Artist



Hi everyone! 

My name is Joly and I am a watercolorist based in the Philippines. I discovered painting with watercolor back in 2013. I started out as newbie and learned to paint better through making mistakes and learning from other amazing artists. I just love how we can express ourselves through painting, creating wonderful watercolor florals using our artistic interpretation. It makes each painting really unique! 

My instagram account (@jolypoa)  serves as my art journal where I post my progress in the form of timelapse videos, real-time videos and photos of my paintings. My goal was also to be able to share what I have learned in watercolor. I hope to be able to do the same here on Skillshare! :)

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1. Introduction: Hello guys. My name is Joly and welcome to my first Skillshare class. Today we're going to learn how to paint easy watercolor florals for beginners. I love painting loose florals, but I do remember that when I was first trying it out, I would always be frustrated because whenever I tried to paint loose florals, they would always turn out as blobs of paint, I know that many of you can relate to that. But over the years, I have learned how to prevent those blobs of paint and I can't wait to share them with you. In this class, we're going to talk about the supplies that you need, how to hold a brush, and we're also going to do some brushstroke exercises that will help improve your muscle memory. Then we're going to paint some leaves, fillers, five petal flowers, and some roses. Together, we're going to form all of these elements into a simple floral bokeh painting just like this. This will serve as your class project. You can give it away as gifts for your friends or your family, or you can put in a frame and hang it on your wall. Just remember to have fun while painting. 2. Supplies: So let's now talk about the supplies that you need. First, we will need a jar of clean water. Then we'll need some paper towel that we will use to blot out the excess water from our brush. Next up is my favorite round brush which is called the silver brush black velvet. But of course you can use any round brush that you have. For this size, I recommend using a size six or eight round brush for beginners. Just a tip. Try to look for a brush that can keep it's point even when you load it with water. Now onto our paint. I am using the Prima watercolor confections. I have three sets here because I love to get colors from different sets when they whenever I paint. Odyssey is my favorite because I love the bold colors in this set. Next is the classic, which has the basic colors. I personally like that sky blue color in this set. Next set is a decadent pies palette. It has Earth tone colors. I love the sap green, and indigo color in this set that they often use for painting leaves. I personally use the mixing area in my palette. I also don't clean my palette as much because I want to remember the colors that I've used in a previous painting. Alternatively, you can use a ceramic pallet as your mixing palette. Of course, you can use any paint that you have. Just make sure to include your favorite color in your palette. In my case, my favorite is pink. Lastly, let's talk about watercolor paper. I am using the cold press, Fabriano Artistico in extra white. This watercolor paper is 100 percent cotton, and it's really good for loose florals. But if you don't have this paper, you can find another paper that's 300 gsm or 140 pounds. This watercolor paper is a block style, which prevents your paper from wrinkling or buckling while you're painting. All four sides are glued and you can see that one corner is not glued. When you're done painting, you can use a cutter to take out a sheet of paper. Watercolor blocks can be expensive, so my tip is to buy a large sheet of watercolor paper and cut it into smaller sheets for practice, just like this. The size of my paper here is seven by ten inches. 3. Tips for Beginners: Now that you have learned about the surprise that you need, I just want to congratulate you guys for taking the first step to learning which is signing up for this class. I hope that you will learn a lot today. Just enjoy the process of learning and be open to making mistakes because these mistakes will help you improve the way that you paint. I know that you can do it, so let's head on to the next part of this class where I'm going to show you how to hold a brush. 4. How to Hold a Brush: I guess you're wondering, how do you hold a brush? Based on my experience, it's easier for beginners to hold a brush similar to holding a pen. If you want to paint something with precise detail, hold the brush near the bristles so that you can gain more control of the brush. If you want to paint something more loose, try to hold the brush towards the end of the handle. By holding the brush towards the end of the handle, it will help you achieve those expressive brush strokes. Think of it as dancing with your brush. There you go. I think you are ready to paint. 5. Controlling Water: Let's now talk about controlling the water in a brush. In this demo, I'm going to dip my brush in the water jar. You will see that there's water dripping from the brush and that means that there's too much water. What you can do is you can tap the brush on the side of the jar to take out the excess water. Or you can just get a paper towel and rub your brush on the paper towels to take out the excess water. In this example, I am going to show you what it looks like to paint with just the right amount of water in your brush. As you can see, this shape has even color all throughout and now I'm going to show you what it looks like if we put more water in our brush. You can see that there are puddles forming now. Lastly, this is what it looks like if you don't have enough water in your brush. Every brush is different and I suggest that you practice with your favorite brush. That way you can understand how your brush works, whether you need to add more or to lessen the water in your brush. This is also to prevent painting blobs of paint, which might be caused by having a watery brush that you can't control. 6. Value: Value is the lightness or darkness of a color. In watercolor, we achieve that by adding more or less water in our paint. Adding different values to the loose flowers, gives it more depth. You will notice that in this example, the center of the rose was painted with a dark pink color, while the other petals where painted with a light soft pink color. Now, let's start to practice. I'm just going to grab some paint. You can choose any color that you like. I will start with a dark values. I'm going to add more pigment and less water in my brush. Now, let's start to paint in a rectangular shape. There is no right or wrong way to do this. You can pick any shape that you want. So now, I'm going to dip my brush in the water jar, and tap the excess water. Now let's paint another rectangular shape. You will notice that the color is now lighter in value. This is because we have introduced more water in our brush. I'm going to dip my brush in the water jar, and tap the excess water again. Let's paint another rectangular shape and you will notice that the color is now much lighter than before. It's quite amazing that from one color, we can create several more just by adding water in the brush. I already dip my brush again in the water jar to create this light soft pink color. Later on you can use this soft pink color for the outer petals of our rose. Okay. So now we're done. 7. Brush Stroke Exercise: In this exercise, we are going to do some work up brush strokes. This is simply done so that we can get more acquainted with their brush. Also, to develop that muscle memory. Going to paint some thin strokes. I am just going to grab some paint, and then we're going to apply light pressure on the paper via light touching just a bit off the brush on the paper. You can use your pointing finger and place it on the surface to keep your hand balanced just like this. Try to tilt your brush in a 90 degree angle. Now, let's paint some thin lines. I'm just going to apply light pressure on my brush, I want just the tip of my brush to touch the paper, just like this. Now, let's apply more pressure to the brush to create a thicker stroke. Let's press the entire belly of the brush against the paper and you will see that the bristles will expand. Now, you can see the effect of applying different pressure on their brush. Doing this wiggling shapes will help train your hand to create thin and thick strokes in one sweep. Start by applying light pressure in the beginning, heavier in the middle, and slowly drag your brush towards the end of your stroke with the light pressure. These strokes are going to be used to paint the petals of a rose. Let's start at the top with a light pressure and let's move our brush in the c curve stroke. You can see that at the end of this stroke I drag and left my brush to create that pointed tip. You can create your own warm up exercises.You can paint some thorns, some wiggly lines, you can change the angle of your brush to paint different shapes, it's all up to you. 8. Leaves: In this part of the class, we are going to learn how to paint leaves. Leaves are just as important as painting flowers. And they're very easy and fun to paint. You can paint it in different shapes and add pops of color to your leaves. I am going to use this pretty green color from the Prima Decadent Pies set. Let's start by painting a single leaf. Using the body of the brush, start with a light pressure and then gently press it against the paper, drag it slowly at the top until you get that pointy tip. Let's try it again. Apply light pressure, heavy, and then light again. I already painted the thin stem that will serve as the backbone of this compound leaf. Now I'm adding leaves on the right, and then another one on the left, and one more at the top. When you feel like the shape isn't right, you can always go back to fix it. Now let's move on to painting long and slender leaves. To create long leaves, gently press your brush against the paper, roughly around just one part of your brush, such as the thinner part to create that thin stroke. You can also try to wiggle your stroke to get a natural-looking leaf. Another tip is to add different shades of green in your leaves. Next up, let's try to paint a simple eucalyptus. I painted a thin stem, and then I'm going to add some oval shapes that will serve as leaves. I started with sap green and then I diluted it with water to create a lighter shade. Don't be afraid to experiment and add some colors to your greens, such as burnt sienna or indigo. It will definitely make your painting look more pleasing. Let's try to paint some round-tip leaves. I'm painting the stem first. It will help me guide where I will place my leaves. Let's paint a loop and then let's fix the sides. It kind of reminds me of painting a balloon. It's definitely okay to make mistakes. You can always go back to fix it. Now I'm getting some indigo color and adding it to my paint to create a darker shade. While the leaves are wet, I am going to drop some dark color on the sides. I just love how they beautifully blend together. I use a clean, moist brush to fix this center leaf. Just make sure that your brush isn't too wet. Lastly, I'm going to show you how to paint a full-stroke leaf. Here I'm painting just the top half first. Then we are going to paint the lower half. I use this method when I have a small brush, but I want to paint a bigger leaf. If you want to paint a more natural looking leaf, don't paint it not too symmetrical. Just follow the natural curves of a leaf and leave some room for your own artistic interpretation. 9. Fillers: Have you ever wondered about why some bouquets feel like it's lacking something? Maybe it's because there are no fillers in the bouquet. Fillers are added so that your bouquet will look clash and full. Here are the examples of the fillers that we will paint. I am using the Prima Watercolor Confections in Odyssey. I'm just going to grab some purple paint named amsterdam. Now let's paint some berries. For the third berry, I'm just going to rinse my brush to get a lighter shade. Try to add different shades of purple. It's definitely up to you how many berries you would like to paint. You can also vary the distance between each berry. Some can be beside each other, and some can be far from each other. Now let's get some green paint and connect the berries to a stem. It's okay if the green stem bleeds into the purple berry. It feels like something is lacking on the right side. We're just going to add one more berry. Now we are going to paint some buds. The tip of our brush already has this pointy shape. We are going to use that to build the shape of a bud by lightly pressing it on the paper. I love adding buds to my bouquet to complement the open flowers that I painted. Now I'm going to get some green paint named Jamaica. Let's connect some stems to those buds. I want those two colors to bleed into each other to create a seamless look. Before I forget the color that I used for the bud is called Tokyo. It's a nice, warm pink color. The color looks like permanent rose. This is one of the easiest fillers. You just need to create a stem and then just add some hands through the stem. You can use the color sap green for the base of this filler. Now let's grab a darker shade of green and put dots at the end of the hands, just like this. Easy, right? Now you have a filler. This is another easy filler where you will just dab using the tip of a rush. I first painted a thin stem. Then now I'm going to grab a more concentrated purple color and I'm just going to dab, dab, dab. Remember the use just the tip of your brush. Let's grab a paper towel and dab the excess paint. Now let's go back in and dab some more. I dip my brush in the water jar to dilute my paint and then I dab the excess water in my paper towel. As you can see, the color is now lighter. Let's just add a bit more color at the top and then just fix the bottom area of this filler. You can see I'm still using the tip of my brush to create those dots. Now I've added an even darker shade of purple to create more dots. You can also try to experiment painting this filler in different colors. 10. Five Petal Flower: I'm sure that you're excited to paint flowers, so let's get started. In this part of the class, we will learn how to paint five-petal flowers with more definition. Let's start by mixing our paint, by using the colored Tokyo from the Odyssey set of FEM-A watercolor. But, feel free to use any color that you like. Now, I'm just going just swatch my paint. I'm sorry about that my camera suddenly focused on my hand. I painted the first petal by combining thin and thick strokes until I had form a petal. Let me show you again on this second petal. As you can see I'm painting with quick strokes so that I can achieve those pointy tips. I'm also making sure that the're are white-spaces in my petal. It gives this impression that this petal is separate from the other petal. Also by intentionally adding white-spaces, it prevents you from painting blobs of flowers. We can use the body of the brush and press it against the paper to create a thick stroke and then use the tip of our brush to create those thin lines. Just think of it as dancing with your brush. Try to sway your brush back and forth. Now I'm just adding a few more strokes to fix some petals. For the center of the flower, I'm going to grab either gray sheet of paint. To achieve this, we need more pigment and less water. Now let's paint some thin strokes in the middle of the flower and pull them towards the center. Because the petals are still wet, we will see some beautiful bleeds between the center strokes and the outer petals. Now I want a more defined center. I grab some indigo and I'm going to drop it in the center of the flower. Make sure that indigo paint that you mix isn't too watery because if it is, it will just spread all over the flower. All right, this is done. I'm going to show you another example of a five petal flower, but this time I use a very diluted yellow color. I find it easier to paint this flower when I paint the strokes quickly. You can try swaying your brush. Painting loops or changing the angle that you hold your brush. Just a tip, I know it's difficult, but don't overthink. Just let your hand dance with your brush. If you feel frustrated, take a short break and then go back to painting with a fresh perspective. Now we're going to add the center of the flower. I'm using a sap green color. Let's pull in all the strokes towards the center. Now I'm just going to drop some indigo paint in the center. I just love this color combination. I'm just going to quickly show you what it looks like when you don't put some white spaces in the petals. This flower is still cute without the white spaces, but if you're not careful, you might end up with a blob of paint. I suggest adding white-spaces. 11. Rose: Building nice roses was one of my biggest frustration is when I was first starting out but today I am going to share with you an easy and effective way of painting a loose water color rose. Just an overview, we're going to paint the center of the rose first and then you're going to move outwards and paint the petals around the center. Let's start by preparing our paint. I'm using the Odyssey set again from Prima watercolor and I'm going to use the color Tokyo, which is a nice one pink similar to a permanent rose. I want the center of my rose to have a really concentrated color. My mixture has more pigment and less water. Let's start painting the center. I am going to paint an elongated diamond. Some of my students would say that it looks like a tear drop. Next, we're going to paint some thin strokes around the center, just like this. Let's go around the center, make sure that you attach it to the center of the rose. I am also intentionally leaving some white spaces. I am already happy with the size, so I'm now going to add medium-size petals. I'm going to dip my brush up and tap the excess. I'm doing this because I want a lighter shade of pink around the center.Let's start painting those C strokes. I am attaching the C stroke from one end to another end of another petal. We can also use the tip of your brush to close some gaps just like this. I'm going to rinse my brush again and tap the excess to get a lighter pink color. Now I am adding more petals around the center. The white spaces that you leave will separate the petals from one another, preventing it to look like this one big petal. What's nice about painting a loose rose without a sketch is that it looks different and unique every time you paint one. As we move towards the outer part of the rose, I am going to rinse my brush and tap the excess water together, even lighter shade. This method will give me a soft loose rose. Let's just go around the rose with more C strokes just like this. One good way to check the shape of your rose is to hold your painting from a far. I'm adding just some small strokes to fix some petals. Let's get some very diluted yellow color. Now I'm just going to drop some bits of yellow around the outer petals. This will give it a nice pop of color. Lets add a bit more at the top. We're almost done. Are you excited to do your class project or maybe you're nervous. Well, don't worry, before the class ends, I am going to do a demo on the class project sample. 12. Tips for Painting Roses: In despite of the class, I'm going to show you how to prevent those globs of roses. Let's start painting. Globs of paint usually happens when there's too much water in your brush just like in this example. Having too much water in your brush can be difficult to manage your brush strokes. So this is what it looks like if we don't leave enough white spaces. Some parts may look like it's just one big chunk of petal. Let's prevent blobs by controlling the water in the brush and by adding enough white spaces in between the petals. Another problem is when the center is detached from the outer petals, you can see that there's a big gap right there. Let's try to fix this by filling in the gap in between the center and the outer petals. Let's add some tiny C strokes. I'm doing quick strokes so that I can get those pointy tips. That's it, I think it now looks better than before. I hope this portion of the class helped you improve in painting better roses. 13. Class Project Demo Part 1: We're now done with the last part of the class which is to create a flora bouquet. Let's now paint the three main flowers, and then I'm going to paint some leaves and some fillers. I'm going to grab a pencil and I will put some dots on the paper, this will serve as a guide of where I will put the flowers. Let's start. I will use my favorite color again, which is pink. I will start painting the center and then I'll add some thin strokes around it. Then I will dip my brush in the water jar to dilute the color in in my brush. I want to create a lighter shade of pink on the outer petals of this rose. Let's add some more C strokes. I can also use the tip of my brush to create thin strokes and close some gaps. Now, let's add a pop of yellow color. We're done with the first rose, now I'm going to turn my paper so I can get a better angle in painting the second rose. Let's start again with a more concentrated color I'm still using pink here. Don't forget to connect your C stroke from one petal to another petal. Painting the center of the rose is very important because it carries the entire look of the rose. If you don't put in enough white spaces in between the strokes, then the flower might look like a blob of pink. Now I have a really light pink color on my brush, which I'm going to use for the outer petals to create that soft look. I am just doing some finishing touches, and fixing the shape. Lastly we're going to add a pop of yellow color, and it's nice that it's blending with the pink petal underneath. Now we're done with the two roses, so I'm just going to add one more flower there. I'm just going to grab some purple and add it to make pink, but feel free to use any color that you want. Now let's start to paint a five petaled flower. You can sway your brush back and forth. This petal touched the rose that was still a bit wet and they blended together, but that's okay. I think it still looks great. Let's continue painting the other petals also try to observe how I hold my brush, and how I change the angles of the brush to create different shapes. Now we're down to the last petal. Let's grab a more concentrated purple color that we will use for the center of this five petal flower. Let's paint some thin strokes and pull it towards the center of the flower. I just love looking at those colors bleed into each other. Click "Next" to get to the part two of this demo. 14. Class Project Demo Part 2: Welcome to the second part of this class project demo. The three main flowers are done. Now let's move on to paintings some leaves. I am using the green color from the Prima watercolor decadent pie set. Let's start by painting the stem. When painting leaves try to add different shades of green. Then delete your paint in more water, or you can add some Indigo to make a darker shade of green. I am using a two stroke method to create a flatter leaf. In a bouquet there's usually a gap between two flowers. That's usually where I put the leaves or the fillers. Here I'm adding different shades of green again, it just makes your bouquet look more appeasing in the eyes. Let's paint some fillers over there. I am going to grab this sky blue color from the Prima water color confections classic set. Here I'm painting the buds first before I connect it to a stem. But alternatively, you can also start with painting the stem first. While the buds are wet, I want to quickly grab some green color and paint the stems now so that the two colors will blend with each other. Though I feel like something is lacking in this area. We're just going to add one more bud. Let's add some berries over there. Originally, I was supposed to put the berries on the lower right, just like in my first painting right here. But I decided to change the placement of the berries because I feel like it looks a lot better on the left side of this bouquet. If ever this happens to you, just follow your instinct. Everything else will eventually fall into the right place. Now I'm just going to add some stems to those berries. This part right here feels lacking. I am going to add one more berry. I'm just going to fill in this gap right here with some green strokes that will look like stems. Then let's add some leaves right here. A few more leaves and fillers and we're almost done. When painting a bouquet, I suggest looking for a reference photo. This will help you understand which colors or flowers work best with each other. I hope that this demo gave you an idea on what kind of floral bouquet you want to paint. Feel free to add your own style or your own taste to your bouquet. I'm really excited to see everyone's class projects. Now let's move on to the next part of the class. 15. Final Thoughts: All right. We are now at the end of the class. Thank you so much for watching guys. I hope that you're able to learn different techniques and how to improve the way that you paint florals. I just wanted to give you some tips on painting. Tip number one is to practice. Practice is really important. When I was first starting out, I would paint the same flower again and again until it improved. I'm just going to quickly show you some paintings that I did before when I was first starting out. Practice is also important to develop that muscle memory in your head so that next time when you paint a flower your hand naturally remembers how to paint those brush strokes. Tip number two is to never stop learning. I feel like we're all a work in progress, always explore all these experiments and one day you'll find your own unique style of painting florals. Tip number three is to have fun while learning. I know that it can be very frustrating when you're first starting out but I assure you that with practice and with the right materials, your painting will improve. All right, let's wrap up this class. I am really excited to see all your floral paintings and even your work in progress photos. I encourage you guys to upload them here so that I can check them out. You can also post your paintings on Instagram and use the hashtag below so I can see your post. That's it guys. Thank you so much again for watching and I hope to see you in my next class. Bye.