Learn to Paint Flowers with Acrylic Paint! Modern Abstract Flowers for Beginners | Elle Byers | Skillshare

Learn to Paint Flowers with Acrylic Paint! Modern Abstract Flowers for Beginners

Elle Byers, Artist and Teacher

Learn to Paint Flowers with Acrylic Paint! Modern Abstract Flowers for Beginners

Elle Byers, Artist and Teacher

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7 Lessons (55m)
    • 1. Intro and Supplies

    • 2. Greenery Layer 1

    • 3. Flowers Layer 2

    • 4. Greenery Layer 3

    • 5. Flowers Layer 4

    • 6. Final Details Layer

    • 7. Final Tips

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About This Class


This class is for beginner level artists who want to learn how to create a modern abstract floral painting.  I will start off by showing you my workspace and supplies. Then we will walk through my process of creating a small abstract floral painting.  I will show you how I layer my paintings and I will talk you through each step of the process along the way.  I'll show you how I mix some of my favorite paint colors and I will give you my best tips for painting flowers. 

Here is a list of the supplies I used for this class:

- Jars or cups of clean water
- Paper towels
- Strathmore Palette Paper (a paper plate will work as a palette, too)
- Small and medium paint brushes.  I used Artist's Loft brand brushes.
- 8 x 10 inch Artist's Loft Level 1 canvas 
- Sharpie marker 
- Spray on matte varnish 
- Liquitex Basics Acrylic Paint 

Paint colors used for this class:
Prussian Blue
Raw Umber
Deep Green Permanent
Light Olive Green
Cadmium Yellow
Cadmium Light Red
Yellow Oxide
Naples Yellow
Light Blue Permanent
Titanium White
Neutral Gray
Turquoise Blue
Blue Gray
Portrait Pink
Deep Violet
Alizarin Crimson Hue

You can find all of my Skillshare classes here:

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Meet Your Teacher

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Elle Byers

Artist and Teacher


Hello, I'm Elle Byers. I'm an artist and a teacher.  My favorite medium is acrylic paint and my favorite subject is flowers!  Check out all of my Skillshare classes at the bottom of this page. 

If you want to see what I'm up to on a daily basis, you can follow me on Instagram.  My available paintings can be purchased on my website, www.ellebyers.com. 

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1. Intro and Supplies: Hey, artist, friends. My name is L, and I am an artist and a teacher. Welcome to my skill share class. In today's class, I'm going to show you how to paint a modern abstract floral painting just like this. This painting is going to be our model for this project. Um, I have several of these eight by 10 canvases student grade that I got at my local craft store. You can buy them in bulk, and they are relatively inexpensive for my palate. I'm using palette paper. You can use a paper plate or whatever other pallet you already have on hand. I like this paper because it just tears off and it's easy cleanup. I have several jars of water to clean my paint brushes. I'm going to use probably three or four different paintbrushes today. Some flats, um, round some small, some medium. I like to use a few different sizes and styles when I'm painting. These are just regular craft store paintbrushes. Nothing fancy. I don't spend a lot of money on paint brushes and finally, for paint. Today I'm using liquid Tex basics acrylic paint. You can get this at any art supply store it's relatively inexpensive. It's usually $5 or less for a tube of four ounce to which will last you a long time. You don't need to go crazy on super expensive paint when you're first starting out. Don't worry about those $15 bottles of paint. They're not going to make you a better artist. The only thing that's going to make you a better artist is daily practice or weekly practice or as much practice as you can possibly squeeze in. Um, you can make a wonderful masterpiece with just some regular craft stores supplies. Okay, let's get started. Uh, I'm going to move this one off to the side, and I will start off by showing you how I begin each painting. 3. Greenery Layer 1: I always start off my paintings with the background and I start with the darkest color that I'm going to use today. Prussian blue is going to be the darkest color. I rarely use this right out of the tube. I mix it with raw number and that will make it a really deep midnight blue. Let's take a little bit and mix that right in. I'm not using any water on my brush because I want to put this layer on thin. And I wanted to dry quickly so that I can start my second layer without having to wait to loan. I know that I want a flower around here, one around here in one around here, and I also know that I want my face to be slightly off center. So I'm just gonna mark that out. And what I'm gonna dio is put a little bit of my blue, my dark blue in my face. There's no need to be exact, and it's okay if you go into the areas where you know your flowers are going to be. That's not a problem. I also want to have some dark areas around my flowers that will create depth and shadows. Remember to put it on pretty thin. We can always add more Later. You can take the paint right over to the side if you want, or you can paint your sides of solid color. That's totally up to you. It's a personal preference. I do both. Just depends on my mood. Put some dark blue around this flower. Carry some down into my foliage. She couldn't see them more raw number. You add the darker your blue will be next. I'm going to add some medium green shades and then a little bit of light blue. So I have deep green permanent. I have some light, all of green. I'm going to mix in some Kate Me, um, yellow with my deep green. I'm also going to use some titanium white, and I'm going to put a little bit of Algerian crimson on my palette. Teoh mix in with some of my greens. When you mix complementary colors, they'll tone each other down a little bit. I was gonna wipe off my brush. I'm not gonna wet it at this point. And I'm going to mix some Cade me, um, yellow into my green. Here and that's giving us a nice medium green color. This light, all of green, is a little too bright for me. So I'm going to mix what I have on my brush here into that tone it down a little bit, and I'm going to take the tiniest bit of crimson and mix that in as well. You can also mix a little bit of white, and I'm gonna just take my different greens without cleaning my brush. It's fine if everything is mixed and I'm going to add in some green around my dark blue. I'm using a medium flat brush for this. You can see I'm trying to vary the direction of my brush strokes. That's going to make our painting more interesting. So we want a variety of colors of paint, and we want a variety of brushstrokes going in different directions. You can always a lot at a little bit of your blue, into your deep green as well. You can make a lot of different shades of paint with just a few colors on hand. If you have too much paint on your brush, just wipe it off on your paper towel. I like to bring all of these colors down into my face. So whatever I'm adding to my foliage also gets brought down, It will make the painting more cohesive. We really just want to cover the canvas. At this point, we don't have to worry about being to exact because we're going to come back to this layer a little bit later in the painting. I like to put my first layer on and just cover the canvas than I do a little bit of my flowers and then come back to the foliage. Some other colors I like to use in my background are blue gray. This I use right out of the tube. You don't usually mix anything in with it. Turquoise blue is another color that I like to use. I use that sparingly. It is a little break, but it adds some nice pops of color to my painting. I'm gonna just add a little bit of this blue grey gonna take a smaller brush and add some stems into my face. They don't need to be too perfect or two straight. Don't worry about making a mistake. If you don't like something that you did, you can always go over it later. Once it's dry, that's the beauty of acrylic paint. To dry is pretty quickly, so you can correct mistakes that you make along the way. All I'm trying to do right now is just maybe make a few interesting marks. Maybe some of them will be covered up in some of them. Won't that'll be up to you? I'm just filling everything in. Now. One last color I'm going to add to this layer is light blue permanent. It's pretty bright right out of the tube. So I'm going, Teoh, change that with a little bit of white and I'll take my small brush again so that I can add a little bit of this to my face. I'm going to stop right here for a couple of minutes and let this layer dry, and then we're going to start our next layer, which will be the beginning of flowers 4. Flowers Layer 2: Now that this layer is mostly dry, I'm going to start to add my flowers. I always start with my darkest color. In this case, it's going to be deep violet And just like with my Prussian blue, I mix it a little bit of raw number with my deep violet. It has the same effect. It just makes the color a little more dark and rich looking. You don't need too much. I'm also going to add a few other colors to my palette. Some titanium white, some Algerian crimson, a little portrait pink and a little bit of cave me. Um, light red que. This is pretty bright. I usually use it only for mixing. This is just our first layer of flowers. Like I said earlier, we're going to go back and forth, so I'm just going to put a few simple marks down to start. I don't like all of my flowers to be exactly the same. That's just a personal preference. I know some artists make all their flowers and the same color palette. I like to have my flowers coordinate, but not necessarily be the same. So for this painting today, I'm going to use my deep violet on these two flowers. This flower is gonna have a little bit more red, orange, yellow and white. Just gonna make a few marks thin marks to get started. One thing I try not to do with my flowers is make a perfect circle. So you don't want to just go around and around with the same color you want. Teoh, Um, make it a little asymmetrical. Have some brush strokes going in different directions. It will make your flowers look much more interesting. I also don't usually have one color go all the way around. So for my flower here on the bottom, I'm gonna have a lot of deep violet. Uh, but it's going to be maybe half to 3/4 of the flower, and the other part will be some lighter. Hughes. I'm in a mix a little bit of red into my violet to change the color a little. The detail is very subtle. You might not be able to see it so much on the camera. The white buff, my brush, and use a little bit of portrait pink. I'm fine with all my colors mixing on my brush. I think it ends up making with flowers look more interesting. If you want a pure color than make sure your painting is dry and use a clean brush. This is just the first layer. So it's OK that the paint looks kind of thin. I'm gonna wipe this, uh, and try to pick up a little bit of white. I like my flowers to go off the edges and not all sit right in the middle of the canvas. Hey, no, I'm gonna let those two dry, and I'm going to create a flower over here in the same color scheme. But I'm gonna try not to really put any deep violet over on this one. I'm gonna mix a tiny bit of raw number in with my crimson. I'm gonna put a touch of portrait pink in there just to change the color a little make up a tiny bit lighter and I'm gonna put a little bit of this. Um, right now that looks too similar to me to those other two flowers. So I'm going to try to mix a little bit of a peach color, take some of my Kate me and yellow and mix a little bit of the cave. Me, um, red. It's a little brighter than what I want, so I'm gonna take some white and see what that does. It's a nice yellowy peachy color that will start. It'll be the basis for this painting over here, This flower over here when they might add a little bit of this color toe one of these flowers, but not to both. Since I don't want them all to look exactly the same, I'm always mixing all my colors on my palette to see what result I get. There's no harm in trying to mix what you have. You'll come up with some really interesting colors. That way. I think this is a good start for our flowers. I'm gonna let it dry for a couple of minutes, and then I'm going to go back into my foliage and I'm going to start to add some more details. - Okay , I'm gonna clean off my brushes. I'm going to give this painting about five minutes to dry, and then we're gonna go back to our greens and blues 5. Greenery Layer 3: so I let this dry for a few minutes. My flowers are still a little bit wet, but that's okay. I'm mostly going to be painting on the areas of the blue and green. This is my palate paper From my first layer, I had just put it to the side and spritzed it with a little bit of water so that it wouldn't dry on me. There are mediums that you could buy to mix into your acrylic paint. If you want it to dry a little bit slower, I find just spritzing it with water works well for me. I like that. My pain strike quickly so that I'm able to work in layers and I don't have to wait too long in between. Now what I want to do is mix a little bit more of my green. Um but I'm also looking to add in details to my foliage. So I want a few things that look like leaves. Not too many. I don't want to try to be too literal. I'm also going to go over some of the dark spots that I want to stay dark. So remember that I like to have dark around my flowers, so I want to make sure I have some shadows here. It's okay if you overlap on your flowers a little bit, that will actually make your painting look more cohesive. If you just do all of your foliage first and then you add flowers on top of it. It will look like your flowers or just sitting on top of your painting. When you layer when you work in layers and you go back and forth between the layers, it makes the piece look much more cohesive. If you think about a really flower, OK, everything is all mixed in together. The flowers don't sit on top of the greenery. And I like that. I have some of my dark blue poking through this flower up here. Another great thing about working in layers is that, um you can let the background layers show through. You want to just look at your painting and see identify the areas that need some details. So figure out what you like and what you want to keep and figure out what you want to paint over or what you want to add to. So right now I like this corner of the way that it is. I want to add a little bit more green and a few more varied brushstrokes up in this area. And I want to cover up a little bit of this blue here. I'm gonna make some more of my olive green, my deep, permanent blue Gonna put a little bit of gray on my palette as well. Neutral gray. I still have plenty of turquoise. I'm gonna add a little more of my blue grey, and I still have some white. I'm gonna use a smaller brush now, because I'm working on more details out a little white to this, and I don't want too much paint on my brush. Okay? I think I want to lighten this up a little. Maybe add some of my greenery going in this direction. Like how that looks next to the dark blue. I'm going to go over down here when I already have in my face just to darken it up a little . I might mix a little bit of blue and with this and see what happens here. Kind of like that color a little bit of aqua when put a little bit of this down in my base just cause I like it a lot of color and I'm going to start to make down here what looks like some greenery. Just the idea of greenery not being too literal with it. Menge. It might go over it with a few different colors. I don't want to overdo it with my green for this shade of green anyway, so I might add a little darker green. - The more you paint, the more intuitive this process will become. Just like anything else. You need to practice. You need to make mistakes. You need to learn what you like and what you don't like. You know, painting is a skill that you can improve that just like reading or writing a bike. The more you do it, the better you will get. Adage The more you practice, I think I'm starting to overdo it with my green. So I'm going Teoh add in a little bit more blue and maybe a little bit of gray. I was gonna white my brush gonna pick up my blue gray here on some details on this side Just anywhere that I think my green needs to be toned down a little. I like to add a little bit of white to my vase. A few highlights just like that makes it a little bit more interesting. Those tiny details are gonna make your paintings more interesting. I think I'm gonna go back to my flowers and let my foliage dry and see what it needs from here. Okay, We'll stop for a few minutes, let this dry, and then we'll add some more details into our flowers. 6. Flowers Layer 4: Now that that last layer is mostly dry, I'm going to start to add some details into my flowers. So this is where our flowers should really start to pop. We're gonna add some highlights and we're going to go over the first layers that we already created. I'm mixing the same colors as before, Amusing titanium y each light portrait, pink deep violet, raw number, Bilzerian crimson. And I'm gonna add some yellow oxide and Naples yellow to my palette as well. I really like the way these two yellows look with the deep violet. They're nice, complementary colors here, just a pop of gray to my palette as well. Not sure if I will use it or not, but sometimes it's nice to have a little gray there as well. I'm going to start with white in a clean brush, and so I get a nice, pure white. And since my flowers have mostly dried at this point, there won't be too much mixing with what is already on my canvas at a little pink to the my white. Trying not to be too round here. I have to be intentional with that because my hand will tend to make a very round flower even when I don't want to. That mixed in a little with the blue that wasn't quite dry. But that's OK at this point. With my flowers, I start mixing lots of different colors on my palette the pinks, the violet, the crimson, these air colors that I use all the time. Because I really like the way that they look together, mixing a little bit of that raw number in with my deep violet to make it nice and dark. And I'm just going over some of my first layers here. I'm gonna try to keep this flower a little bit more, um, than half dark and half light mixing and just a teeny bit of white. Well, tend to that color. It will make it a little lighter. I'm gonna go back and on this side with some pink. I'm gonna get a clean brush to try to keep my pinks somewhat pure over here. But since the colors or what, it will still blend a bit. I'm gonna leave this one for a few minutes. Well, I work on this flower here on the top. I am tying these together by making these two similar. But I'm gonna put yellow on this one in yellow on this one. So even though this flower is different, it's going to tie in with the other flowers. You can see I have some straight lines, some curved lines, Remember, we don't want to paint in a perfect circle. So lines going in different directions. Um, different size lines are going to make your painting interesting. And I'm leaving a lot of this blue from my under painting because I like the way that looks popping through. Might take a little bit of my grey and add it there and maybe just go over it with a teeny bit of white. No, wait, my brush off. And while this is still what I'm gonna add a little bit of yellow just so that it blends in nicely with my violet and my pink. A little more portrait pink to my palace. And I'm gonna leave these two for a minute and concentrate on my flower here on the left. I think I want to lighten it up a bit. I'm going. Teoh, put some white. This flower. I'm intentionally going to make less round than these two flowers just for some variation. So there's gonna be a lot of short, um, strokes And, um, maybe a few longer ones going in different directions just so that it does have a different look to it. I'm going to use more pink, yellow and crimson in tow. Lightened that up. I'm gonna try mixing in some with my portrait pink. And I like that color clean off my brush, and I'm gonna blend some yellow in with this. Now, - I'm pretty happy with these two flowers. This one on the bottom looks a little bit plain to me. Um, I think it might need a little bit more white. I think I might bring a little bit more red down into this one. Sometimes you need to just stop painting for a couple of minutes and step a few feet away from the painting to get a different perspective. And I think that's what I'm going to do in a minute after I add a little read to this one Crimson. - Okay , so right now I'm going to take my own advice. I'm going to let this painting dry for a few minutes. I'm going to step back, take a look at each different area of the painting and try to figure out what it needs, what I'm going to leave alone and where I need to add my final details. 7. Final Details Layer: At this point, I know that I'm almost done, but I feel like I need to add a few little details. So I'm gonna go back and forth between flowers and greenery for my final layer. I'm gonna keep my same palette that I've been using. I'm gonna mix some really light blue, Just put a little bit up here and some green as well on a white Andi Maybe a little bit of my blue grey Take my green. I want to lighten this up a little. That's really bright. So I'm gonna use on Lee a little bit of it, But I do like that for my finishing touches. I just like to add some things that make the painting pop. So using some bright colors, adding a little bit of white, I'm gonna do the same with my light blue mix. A really light blue here. And if you do too much, you can always tone it down with your blue grey like that. I'm even just going over layers that I already created to just define them a little bit more or at a highlight or shadow tooth. Um, I'm gonna take a little bit of my dark green wipe off my brush a little, put a little raw number and that to make it nice and dark and just go over some areas that I think might be a little bit too bright. - I like this light blue here with the deep violet in the pink. I want to just go over the last thing I'm gonna dio because I could go on for hours and hours on a painting. So I'm going to wrap this up. The last thing that I'm going to do is put some highlights with some pure white. So I'm gonna take a clean brush, a smaller brush, and I'm going to just add in some pure white for highlights on my flowers. And I'm really just going over where the white already exists just to help it stand out a little bit more. - Okay . And I am calling this piece finished. What do you think? I like it 8. Final Tips: just a few final tips when you're painting, don't get too caught up in whether the painting is going to be good or bad. Just paint all of us make bad paintings now and then. Sometimes every painting I make seems to be a bad painting. And then I turn a corner and I make one that I like you will become a better painter. The more you do it, the more you practice, the more intuitive the process will become. So keep trying and don't give up. When you're painting is completely dry. This one's not so. I'm gonna show you on a different painting. You can paint the sides a neutral color if you like. Or a dark color is nice, too. On the back of my small paintings, I signed them with my name and the name of the painting. So this one here was spring vibes number nine, and I signed them with just a regular Sharpie marker before I shipped them out. If someone buys it, I make sure that my pain is varnished so that the color won't feed. I like this Windsor and Newton General purpose. Matt Varnish. It's an aerosol. I only varnish outside because this does have a very strong smell. So I take my paintings outside. I varnish a bunch of thm at a time, and I let them dry outside. Once they're dry, the smell is completely gone. If you liked this class and you made a painting, I would love to see it. So take a picture of it and upload it to the project tab below the video. Thanks for joining me today.