How to Paint a Watercolor Floral Wreath | Caitlin Sheffer | Skillshare

How to Paint a Watercolor Floral Wreath

Caitlin Sheffer, Watercolor Artist & Designer

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5 Lessons (27m)
    • 1. Part 1: Introduction

      0:44
    • 2. Part 2: Supplies

      2:25
    • 3. Part 3: Practicing Brush Strokes & Leaves

      2:32
    • 4. Part 4: Creating the wreath base

      8:56
    • 5. Part 5: Adding flowers to the wreath

      12:34

About This Class

This step-by-step tutorial is a guided lesson on how to paint a modern floral wreath with watercolors. It's a great exercise for all skill levels, as it uses basic supplies and techniques. 

When you are done, you will have a beautiful piece of artwork that you can frame, cut/trim and use as stationery, or even digitize for use with graphic design. You will also receive two PDFs with helpful tips and reference images, as well as a bonus art print with inspirational quote. :)

Supplies:

1. A small bowl, approx. 6" in diameter. 

2. A drawing pencil, 2H or lighter

3. Paint brushes (feel free to use what you have on hand, but this lesson uses 3 Round Brushes, sizes 1, 5, and 10.)

4. Watercolor paints (An inexpensive palette is fine, the one used in the lesson is the Artist's Loft set from Michael's.)

5. Watercolor paper (Cold pressed, 140lb or higher)

6. Cup of water

7. Absorbent paper towel (I prefer the Viva brand)

Transcripts

1. Part 1: Introduction: Hey you guys, I am Kate Schaeffer, the artists behind ''Bella love letters.'' I'm excited to share with you some tips and techniques on how to paint a floral wreath. It's a really fun project, it uses inexpensive materials, and it's a great way to build your confidence as an artist, and just to explore a little bit. Let's get started. Thank you for joining me and I'm excited to work with you. 2. Part 2: Supplies : For this project you will only need a few relatively inexpensive materials to get started. Everything seen here can be found at your local craft store. Let's talk about brushes. In this lesson I used three different sized round brushes. Round brushes are the most commonly used type of brush for watercolor painting because they are so versatile. So why would I need three of the exact same type of brush? Well, each size creates slightly different size brushstrokes and holds different amounts of water. In this video, I use size 1, 5 and 10. Any watercolor paint set will work for this project. This is an Artist's Loft paint palette from Michael's and I've been using it for several months. It has a wide color selection and it is great for beginners. Some of my favorite paintings were made using this cheap $4 set. Time to pick a paper. Watercolor paper typically comes in two varieties. Cold pressed, which is a rougher, more absorbent, traditional watercolor paper, and hot pressed, which is a smoother, less absorbent paper. If you are just starting out with watercolors, I recommend that you choose a thick, cold pressed paper with a weight of at least a 140 pounds. Any brand will do though, I almost always come back to the Arches paper seen here and in the intro video of this lesson. You will also need a pencil for this project. I recommend using a 2H or lighter drawing pencil to ensure that your lines are faint. You can also use a regular pencil. Just be sure that when we start tracing our circle, that you don't press too hard on the paper. Last but not least, you will need a small round bowl, that you can invert on your paper and trace around. The size doesn't matter too much but keep in mind, the larger the bowl, the more you have to paint. One last thing, although they are not pictured here you will also need a cup of water and an absorbent paper towel. 3. Part 3: Practicing Brush Strokes & Leaves: All right, you guys, it's time to get started with some practice strokes. For each size paintbrush that you have, we're going to do three practice strokes. This is me using my size one round brush. The first stroke, I'm just doing a thin line, barely putting any pressure on my brush. The second line, I'm putting a lot of pressure on my brush so that I get a thicker line. The third stroke, I'm going to alternate between lots of pressure, lifting up to a little bit of pressure, and then lots of pressure, and then a little bit so that I get this alternating fat, thin, fat, thin, fat line. This is very useful for when we start painting leaves. Here's another angle, so you can see what I'm talking about the width of the stroke. A very fine line is what happens when you put just a little bit of pressure. Here's a fine line and then as I push down on my brush, the bristles create a nice wide leaf shape and then I lifts up again and makes a thin stem. You can also drop a little bit of different pigment into the wet paint to create a more lifelike leaf, I just drops in a little bit of yellow and it makes it look a little more authentic. Now I've switch to my size five round brush, I'm going to do the very light pressure like I did with the first brush. But you can see because it's a bigger brush, the line you get is thicker, and the same is going to happen when I push down to make my leaf, it's just a bigger leaf. Here's one last look at this exercise at a hyper speed view. 4. Part 4: Creating the wreath base: We've got our supplies, we practiced our brushstrokes, we are ready to get started with our floral wreath. So grab your bowl and grab your pencil and flip the bowl upside down on top of the paper. Now you're going to very lightly trace around the bowl, so that your pencil just barely leaves a mark on the paper. You don't want it to be dark at all because pencil does not lift well after you've painted over it, and you don't really want to see it through the painting. After I lifted up the bowl, I can barely see my pencil. I'll trace it with my fingers so you can see it's very, very faint, but it's still there just enough that when I see it up close and in person I can know exactly where I want my leaves to go. So now I'm grabbing my size 1 round brush because it's very dainty and it's perfect for this first little part where I'm painting the stems. You want to really get your paint brush down in the water, get it saturated, and then you're going to dip it into your paint of choice, and if you end up buying the artist loft pellet for Michaels, I like to use the really dark green that is the second column, third row down, and it's just very earthy located. I like to add in a little bit of yellow and add a little bit of more water so it's nice and fluid and you have enough on your brush. I like to start with just a little vine. Like we practice with our brushstrokes, and then I just start pulling in all leaves here and there, pausing to add more paint to my brush. Remember to push down to create a fatter leaf, and then lift up to make the little stem that attaches to the vine. As you're doing this, you don't want to paint a thin line all the way around the circle where we drew our pencil. That's just a loose guide of the circle that we're going to be painting, but you don't want to trace over it identically with the paint. You want to leave gaps in between the foliage for the flowers, where the flowers will go later, and I like to have the bottom half of this circle with the leaves growing up and the top half of this circle with the leaves growing down, it just has a nice composition to it. It looks very natural. As you keep going, you want to think about creating different shades of colors, so here I'm adding a little more yellow to get a brighter leaf color. When you do this, it gives your painting a little more dimension. It gives your leaves a little more depth. It makes them more believable, something that you actually might see in nature, because when you look at a bush or a tree, the leaves are all exactly the same green. They have bits of brown and red and yellow and even blues and purples. I suggest when you're mixing a green, it's a good idea to add a little bit of yellow, I mean actually what I just did right there is add a little bit of red. When you mix red and with green, it looks very earthy and it's gorgeous. Just keep adding a little leaves where do you think that they might grow naturally, and remember to push down to create a fat leaf and lift backups to make it a nice point where it attaches. It's a really simple technique that goes a long way when you're painting flowers. I'm not too careful when I'm mixing colors on my palette. I am a little bit of a messy painter, and so I don't clean my brush off a whole lot other than just dipping it in water. But you can be more thorough if you like, or you can be loose like how I tend to work. Generally, you want to make sure you get your brush really clean in between a darker color and a warmer color. You can also experiment with having your individual leaves growing in different directions, not just up or down, but they might be folded over or off to the side. You might have a longer, more wispy leaf like, shown right there, and you don't have to fill in every single space of the leave. You can leave whitespace, which adds a little bit of depth and dimension. If you paint with a little bit of a dryer brush, you'll also find that it leaves whitespace, that is a nice effect. I'm being careful not to fill in too much space, but I do want it to look natural with enough greenery. Generally, you want to be pretty thorough with the greenery before you start painting the flowers, because it's a little bit harder to add them back in once you paint the flowers. You'll see what I mean at the end of the video, I tried to add in a little more greenery, and it's more challenging because the flowers are a lighter color, and you don't necessarily want to paint over them with a darker color. Here I've used just a little too much water, and so I'm using a very absorbent paper towel to lift up some of the water. That's the great thing about watercolors, they're very forgiving if you mess up or you have too much water, it lifts up up very easily with a paper towel. I like to use the viva brand because it's really absorbent. Keep mixing new shades of green, and it's just really beautiful to see how it all works together. It looks a lot more natural when you don't have just one color on the page. This is an example of how I've changed direction with the way the leaves are growing, so up until now they've all been growing up towards the top, and now that I'm at the top, I'm going to have them growing in the down direction. Watch closely, you push down and lift up, and you just get a beautiful leaf form, and you can drop in a little more paint of a darker color and it just blends beautifully. You can add in a really dainty thin stem along the circle, and we are just about ready to start adding in our flowers. 5. Part 5: Adding flowers to the wreath: Once you've let your leaves dry a little bit, it's time to start adding in our flowers, which is my very favorite part. Now you can use any color you want for the flowers. I am a big fan of pink. That's what I'm going to use for this demonstration, but you are welcome to use whatever color you'd like. I'm going to start with my size 10. I'm going to load it up with a lot of water and pigment, and I'm going to go to the largest opening than I have in my wreath. I'm just going to start with making some wide petals and pulling in towards the center. I'm doing the same technique as I did with the leaves, where I apply a lot of pressure to the bristles and it fades out to make a really nice natural-looking petal. Generally, when you're painting flowers, you want to start with a darker color in the center and add more water to your brush and create the outer petals that way. Now I've switched to a size five brush, which I'm going to use for the remainder of this tutorial because I feel like it fits the leaf little better. But it's a great opportunity to drop in a little bit of a red or an orange or yellow, just a warmer color that you can add to the center of your flour to make it look very natural. Once you have a larger flower filling your gap, you can add in a few smaller blossoms, keeping your shapes loose or tight depending on the type of flower you want. I tend to like them more abstract, loose flowers. But you're welcome to use your smaller brush to make nice, tight, detailed petals. Going back to the size five, I'm going to add another larger flower, pushing down to make the bigger petals. It's okay to overlap some of the leaves because that's happens in nature. Adding a little bit of a darker pigment, and it's fun to watch the colors explode on the paper as it blends with the water. I like to call it the firework technique and I think that's an official name, but it's fun to practice. The great thing about painting modern floras is that it's very loose. You don't have to be very precise. It's all about the gesture of the flower, which is great for beginners because you don't have to be super concerned with the details. Sometimes it's a nice idea to go in with your smaller brush and add detail to your a larger flowers. You have a lot more control, the smaller the brushes, which is why I think the size 10 didn't seem to work out as much with this three. I'm really happy with the colors that I've been using and I think I want to add in a new color. I'm going to do a little more fuchsia, add a tiny bit of green to make it more natural looking. I'm going to start with the gap at the top of my wreath. I like to think of my wreath as a clock and I try to go separate them about three hours between each other. The first flower I did was at six o'clock. The second was about eight or nine o'clock, and now I'm at 12 o'clock. It just helps me create a better composition and now I'm going to go to where the three or four o'clock would be. That's the best way I can explain how to add in your flowers. It's good to not do it all in one direction because you lose sight of how the whole wreath is looking collectively. That's just a nice little tip technique that you can try when you're doing your wreath. Now you can see right here I've layered some pink over top of my stem then I painted. You could see through the pink just barely and I didn't love how you could see through that, so I added a little darker pigment to it and that will blend it in a little bit more. Adding some yellow to give me a little bit more of an orange color. Here's a good example of something that happens to me almost every project, is if you still little bit of water on your paper, you can just lift it up with a paper towel and because I had some green on my paper towel, I smudge the green. But it's really easy to fix. You just add a little bit of water to the paper and pick it right up with another clean paper towel. Quick fix. Back to painting my flowers. I love adding a little bit of orange and yellow. Mustard yellow is really great. It looks very natural. It compliments the pink very well. Now if you find that you're having a hard time getting natural-looking flowers in terms of their shape, you can refer to the PDF guide that is in the class project section of this lesson and you'll find some reference pictures that you can look at as your painting your wreath, and you can follow along the shapes that I've provided there. There's also some reminders of the tips that I'm giving here so that you can read along as you're painting. Probably one of my biggest suggestions is try not to just paint a circle all one color, leave little bits of white space and that will act as the definition of where the petals start and end. Well, too much water. I made sure I used a clean paper towel this time. Again, love how the yellow mixes with that pink. Towards the end, it will start to get a little tricky knowing where to place your flowers because you don't want it to get too crowded. But I can tell that I'm getting to a point where I'm feeling like this might be getting close to being complete. I'm just going go real slowly, adding some smaller flowers so that I don't overcrowd the composition. Now I can tell that I'm a little bit heavy on the left side of my race. I'm going to go over to the right now and start adding in some fuchsia just to even things out, so it doesn't seem lopsided. Now I think I am feeling pretty good about the flowers that I've got and I know it's not quite finished, so I'm going to add in a few more leaves. This can be a little tricky, so be careful, and if your flowers aren't completely dry, this is a little risky because if you end up touching one of the flowers that's still wet, you will get a lot of bleeding of the green into the lighter color. Now sometimes this works out really well and sometimes it just gets a little muddy. If that happens to you, you can lift it up with a paper towel, but be sure to do it quickly before it dries. I love this forest, emerald green. It pops, it's a little bit more contrast from the other leaves that I used. See there, there's an example of the green bleeding into the pink. But in this case, I actually love how it looks. It looks like where a flower bud attaches to the stem. That worked out well. Sometimes it doesn't. Little more gleaning, but in this case, I really like how it's blending with the pink, looks natural and pretty. I think this is looking good. I think I'm ready to call this a wrap. I love how it turned out. I'm so glad you guys could join me, and I hope you guys love how your own projects turn out too.