Loose Watercolor Florals - Sunflower Painting Using The Wet On Wet | Alifya P. Tarwala | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

Loose Watercolor Florals - Sunflower Painting Using The Wet On Wet

teacher avatar Alifya P. Tarwala, Artist | Acrylics, Watercolors | Painter

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

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

13 Lessons (38m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Materials

    • 3. Exercise 1 - Techniques

    • 4. Exercise 2 - Layering

    • 5. Exercise 3 - Brushstroke For Leaves

    • 6. Prep Paper & Sketch

    • 7. Wetting Paper & Initial Wash

    • 8. First Hues To Flowers & Leaves

    • 9. Initial Wash To Vase & More Leaves

    • 10. Second Layer

    • 11. Adding Darks To Leaves

    • 12. Defining Vase & Adding Highlights

    • 13. Final Touches & Class Project!

  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels
  • Beg/Int level
  • Int/Adv level

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class


In this class, I will be teaching you how to paint Loose & Expressive Watercolor Sunflowers using then wet on wet technique! I will show you basic watercolor techniques and teach you how to paint this lovely floral painting. Great for sketchbook practice. This class is aimed towards intermediate levels but I would encourage beginners to try this!

A former art teacher and now an independent full-time artist, I am so excited to be teaching on Skillshare and I truly hope you find this corner of your space comforting, inspiring, and encouraging! Can't wait to connect with you all!

  • MORE WATERCOLOR FLORALS !? Try these and paint with me!
  1. Watercolor Peonies - https://skl.sh/2HCzjl1
  2. Watercolor Roses - https://skl.sh/2Re4M14



  • Prepping your paper and materials – I will show you how to prep your paper before painting and all the brushes and paints you will need for this project.
  • Warm up exercises – I will go through exercises and cover basic techniques, layering and washes
  • Painting process and details – We will go through a couple of layers, keeping our exercises in mind.
  • Final Touches – This step will teach you how you can be more expressive by mark making with highlights and shadows.


MATERIALS I USED (but use whatever you have available.)

1) Paints:

- Yellow ochre, Cadmium light yellow, golden yellow, rust red, spring green, Naples yellow, black, indigo, white acrylic

2) Brushes: #2 round, #10 round, 3/4 flat brush - https://amzn.to/3azl0pM , #1 rigger brush,  - https://bit.ly/3mjGcHY, #4 pointed filbert brush - https://amzn.to/3GUqpZN

3) Arteza Watercolor Paper 140 lbs - https://bit.ly/3egWHzt

4) Washi tape

5) Bowl for water

6) Paper towel / rag

*Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning, at no extra cost to you, I will make a commission, if you click through and make a purchase. I only recommend products that I genuinely use on a regular basis!



☆ Join my newsletter for 15% off to shop ☆ - http://eepurl.com/hKUHg5

W e b s i t e (Shop Art & Merch) - https://alifyalifestyle.co/

Instagram - get latest updates!

Art Facebook group (Paint With Me) - share your work, connect with art lovers, & monthly giveaways!

Youtube - more art inspo

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Alifya P. Tarwala

Artist | Acrylics, Watercolors | Painter


Hello, I'm Alifya Plumber Tarwala, a Fine Artist from sunny California and founder of 'Alifya Lifestyle' where I create and sell my Originals, Art Prints & various Merchandise (phone cases, mugs and much more!) I also have an Etsy Shop to fit YOUR home! A former art teacher and now an independent full-time artist. My classes here will be focused over Loose Landscapes and Florals in Acrylics and Watercolors. I am so excited to be teaching on Skillshare and I truly hope you find this corner of your space comforting, inspiring, and encouraging! Can't wait to connect with you all!

To keep up with snippets of my artist life, follow along on Instagram or join my private Facebook Group, where you can connect with a community of other art lover's! I als... See full profile

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • Exceeded!
  • Yes
  • Somewhat
  • Not really
Reviews Archive

In October 2018, we updated our review system to improve the way we collect feedback. Below are the reviews written before that update.

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. Introduction: [MUSIC] Hey, everyone. My name is Alifya, and I'm an artist here in San Jose, California. In today's class, I will show you how to paint loose and expressive watercolor sunflowers using the wet-on-wet technique. I will show you all the materials that you will need, will walk you through basic techniques, layering and washes. Then we'll go through a quick warm-up session on painting leaves. Then I will walk you through painting this loose watercolor floral. A reference photo for inspiration will be provided in the projects and resources tab below. Let's get started and dive right into painting. 2. Materials: This is everything that I have used. A bowl for water, a rag, and then ARTEZA paper. I love this paper, have used it for all my projects, and then also ARTEZA watercolor palette. It comes in 36 colors. Then I use any washi tape to tape down my edges along with acrylic white paint. Then you'll need a pencil to sketch your drawing. Then we have all these brushes. These two are my most common used brushes that I've used throughout the painting, some round brush, and then a pointed filbert brush. Then I use this flat brush just for the initial wash, any flat brush will work. Then just like a pointy pen brush for details and just one more round brush if you have that for some details. Everything is listed in the projects and resources tab below. 3. Exercise 1 - Techniques: Before we start, I just wanted to go over some basics with you. I'm not going to overwhelm you with a lot of techniques and brushwork, but I'm just going to cover the techniques that we will use in today's class so that you can get a more practical approach for this. The two most common watercolor techniques are, wet on wet and wet on dry. For the wet on wet, paint is applied to wet paper. You can layer different colors on top of existing wet paint, which will create this blurred-out expansion effect, where you will notice the color is bleeding into one another. The second technique is wet on dry, where the paint is applied onto dry paper. It is as simple as that. Let's look at the effects that these gave us. Now the wet on wet gives us soft edges. It's more blurred out. This is great. If you want more delicate, softer paintings, we use for backgrounds or far-away objects. You can also blend easily while getting an effective gradient, and also creates a misty effect. It is also unpredictable and hence not so much in your control. The very opposite of the wet on wet is wet on dry, which gives us sharper edges. You can definitely have more control where you can get well-defined shapes. The wet on dry also allows you to lay your paint as much as you want. We will go through layering in the next step. [MUSIC] 4. Exercise 2 - Layering: Here Here, I'm going to show you how you can layer your paint in watercolors. I'm going to show you three different washers here, each one with a little more pigment to show you the effects of layering. If you want well-defined shapes when it comes to layering, you will have to work on this wet on dry. I'm drying out my paper with a blow dryer to speed up the process before I begin to layer my shapes. [MUSIC] Once your painting has dried, layer your shapes little by little, getting darker each time, but also wait for your paint to dry in between each layer that you add. As you can see, the lighter your initial wash is, the easier it is to build up on layering so keep that in mind when you are painting. With watercolors you always have to work light to dark, unlike acrylics where you can get away with working from dark to light. I think watercolors as a medium does require you to be more patient. [MUSIC] 5. Exercise 3 - Brushstroke For Leaves: Before we begin, I wanted to do a quick exercise on painting leaves. I'm going to show you a very basic shape here on how you can practice painting leaves by using just simple brushstrokes. Holding your brush straight up, use the fine tip to make a thin line and press down more by using the belly of the brush to create the body of the leaf and gently lift up your brush as you near the end, creating a little pointy tip. You can add more definition to your leaves and drop more paint in certain areas of the leaves you want to create a more loose feel. Keep practicing the shape and brushstroke over and over until it comes more natural to you. Now, let me show you what the shape would look like if we were to paint it on a stem. Again, make a short, thin stroke to begin using the tip of the brush and then press down gently using the belly to form the body of the leaf and then lift off gently towards the end. Feel free to pour color more in certain areas. Either at its tip or at its base that's totally up to you. Also remembering to leave some white lines and spaces every now and then to create more interest. Another way to create this basic shape is also starting at the tip first. Basically the opposite direction of the ones I just showed you. Here I'm starting at the tip of the leaf and pressing downwards by curving slightly towards the base of the leaf and the stem. I then close off the shape from the other side, leaving a little white line in the middle. Here, I'm simply making a slightly different variation of the leaf by using a more warm color and making my leaves more longer and crooked at the edges to create more of a dried leaf outcome. There are tons and tons of leaf variations out there that would probably be a separate class by itself. But for the purpose of today's project, I'm only showing you one simple and easy leaf that you can practice yourself to get better at. 6. Prep Paper & Sketch: [MUSIC] First step, like always is taping down a paper, and I'm using a washi tape to tape down the edges. I'm also working with a six by six inch arteza paper here. Once you're done with the step we will move on to the sketch phase. Let's sketch the sunflower. Ways very roughly here. I'm only looking for composition at this point and not details. I wanted to lay down three sunflowers. I'm getting in the bud of the sunflower, which is an oval shape and just establishing the direction of the sunflower and the way it's facing. I wanted the one towards the left facing a little bit upward and then the one towards the right facing the right. Then I also have one facing below. I did not use any reference while painting this entire project. I was very spontaneous with this one, but I did find a free picture that I will link in the projects and resources tab below, if you want to use this inspiration. 7. Wetting Paper & Initial Wash: [MUSIC] Next up is wetting the entire paper down. Using a big flat brush, which I only use for this step, and I'm taking yellow ocher and only the slightest bit, and I'm applying a flat wash to the entire paper. I'm only looking for these slightest hint. Do not make it too strong or your sunflowers will not show up. Again, you only want a slight sheen to your paper, do not overdrawn it. After you are done with the step, wait for your paper to dry a good 50 percent before moving on to the next step. After your paper has dried down a good 50 to 60 percent, which means you should not be able to pick up any pigment from the paper if you touch it, but it should also feel cool to touch. Now it's time to drop in pigment into our flowers, so I'm using cadmium light yellow and roughly placing a very light tint on to the sunflowers. Keeping like a sunflower picture in mind, I'm giving impressions of light flower petals just to have a foundation set. Again, you don't have to be too precise at this stage, you're just getting the shape down. I'm just following the direction of the way the sunflower is facing, and just dropping in some color while still being mindful of the shape. We're definitely going to be building up on these layers, so make sure to make it really light. [MUSIC] Now let's add the central bud of the sunflower to keep building on that form. I'm using burnt umber. Use any brown that you have at this point, and using the tip of the brush just drop in some color gently. Again, we're working with this wet on wet, so it's okay if it spreads that's fine. Keeping in mind to leave some negative white spaces along the way, also make sure to do that when you paint the sunflowers too. Leaving white spaces is very important and it adds interest and also breaks up the shape. Yeah, make sure to be very conscious of leaving some of the white gaps open. [MUSIC] 8. First Hues To Flowers & Leaves: Now we're going back in with the same cadmium yellow, but this time using a bit more pigment and adding some more defined shapes while still keeping it loose and expressive. Feel free to look at images of sunflowers if you need help in this section, or use the reference pic that I've linked below. The key here is to leave some gaps between each of our petal every now and then, and also make sure to add your flower petals in the direction of the way your sunflower is facing. Be sure to hold your brush from the back of the handle like you see me doing so. What this does is that it allows you to be more loose instead of being more restricted. Because the minute you hold your brush like you do a pencil, things will become a lot more tight which is not what we're aiming to do. We want this to be loose and expressive so make sure to hold it from the back. Now let's add a new color to this mix. I'm going in with golden yellow which is this mustardy color, and which is basically one step darker than the yellow that we've used. I'm just dropping that color with the tip of my brush only and just dropping it at the outskirts of the bud and just pulling that color slightly into the petals. This will help to create some more dimension and depth. I'm doing the same exact thing with a light orange. Again, putting it at the outskirts of the bud and then pulling it into the petals. Let's take a short break from the sunflowers and add some foliage using olive green and the same brush. I'm adding some random leaves in places to fill up the composition. Use your artistic intuition here and add the leaves to places you think will look good and will compliment the shape of the overall painting. You can vary them in size and also don't forget to add some white gaps. Adding in some more pigment of the olive green mixed with a little black and adding touches of the dark tones to build dimension. Sorry for this going out-of-focus a bit, it kept focusing on my hands rather than the paper since this is a close up, but I do apologize. I will double-check this for next time. I'm adding that same color to the central bud as well. Just very, gently and blending them out if I needed to blend out the edges a little bit. 9. Initial Wash To Vase & More Leaves: [MUSIC] Now let's actually add some color to the vase before we move on. Just so we can get some foundation for the overall painting. I'm using Rust red, but you can also use Burnt Sienna if you have that. I'm taking a very light pigment, and I'm just going to add a soft gradient, keeping it dark towards the left, and light towards the right. Again, like always, leaving some white spaces open for visual interest. Also, I'm still using the very same brush, I haven't switched out the brush at all. I'm also pulling in some of that yellow onto the vase just for some added reflection. [MUSIC] I wanted to add some light pigment to the leaves, so I'm going in with Spring Green, and building that foliage in places. At this point, feel free to add in whatever greens that you have at this point. You don't have to be using the exact same palette that I have obviously. But if you do, then yes, these names will be helpful, but if you don't, then any other replacement of green will work just as fine. Just make it your own, especially when it comes to the foliage, just add your own little shapes, and twigs, and leaves, and foliage in the best way you see fit, and just have fun with the colors. [MUSIC] 10. Second Layer: [MUSIC] I switched my brush to a pointed Filbert brush just to get more precision of the flowers at this point. Your sunflowers should almost be dry at this stage, which is what we want to add more definition to the flower petals. Make sure it's not too wet. If it is too wet, I would wait until they almost dry. It can be like 90-95 percent dry and that's still okay. Going back to yellow ocher, I'm adding in some more layers of petals. Like I always say, watercolors is all about building in layers, little by little, and having the patience and grace in allowing the drying time in between, but also being able to rush when You need it wet on wet. But this stage, we are working with this wet on dry. This brush really works well to give You more definition to the petals because of the shape that the brush already comes in. Again, I've listed the materials in the Project and Resources tab below if You need to check out. I'm just taking my time and going over each sunflower and adding in an extra layer of petals. Also, a reminder that this is a loose sunflower painting, so You do not need to add in too many details, but only impressions of details. Which I know is easier said than done because I genuinely believe it is easier to add in all the details in the world because then You just have more control. But lose paintings are about peeling back those layers and only giving it information that You think is needed for the viewer to understand the shape and the purpose of the object. But the more You paint loose and expressive paintings, You will get the hang of keeping Your brush marks loose. It's all about the little details at the end of the day that speaks volumes. [MUSIC] Another technique to peel back some layers is to use Your paper towel to pick up any excess paint by simply dabbing in gently. It does lift off paint while it's still wet or damp. [MUSIC] I'm going back in with a light orange. I believe our teaser palette calls this Naples yellow, but, again, it's just a light orange. I'm just building on some definition to the tips of the petals in some of them. I also mix that with some rust red to give it a more deeper tone. You can just mix in, if You have a light orange and some brown, You will still get the similar color. I'm being very selective and only adding it to certain tips of the petal. Make sure that whenever You introduce a new layer or a color, do not completely get rid of existing paint or the very first, initial base layers. For example, I'm still careful of leaving that very first light yellow wash we did at the very beginning, because remember this will add dimension. You want to be able to see all those layers and colors. [MUSIC] Bringing in some of that color to the vase as well. I always like bringing in some of my colors from my flowers onto my vases, just a very slight touch to make it all flow very nicely together. Adding some really dark brown and black. I'm going back to the center bud and just plotting a few specks in there. I'm also pulling that color very lightly into my petals, so I'm just going in upward directions and just pulling a little string of line into my petals. Impressions like this can really separate Your petals and define Your shapes more. I'm still using my pointed Filbert brush to get this detail. Also, at this stage, my paper was about 50 percent dry, so You can still see a slight blurred effect which means that it was still a bit damp, which is fine and it looks nice. Use that dampness to bring out and pull some of those darks into Your petals. [MUSIC] I'm using a light pigment of olive green and putting it as my background, as my shadow, and just so it feels like my vase sitting on something or it's against the wall or it has some shadow. But it's just that to add little details like this to give it some place hold. I'm being intentional of my light source. In this case, we have our light coming from the right. That is why I had my vase darker towards the left. Similarly, I'm going to add the darker tones to my left side of the shadow. [MUSIC] 11. Adding Darks To Leaves: At this stage, I would say we have our entire structure down. Now it's just time to give it more highlights and some dark tones. Just to add some pops in certain areas and little splashes of color. Here I'm using some indigo and olive green to bring in some dark value overall. Adding some of that blue and greens together, it adds a very nice color against the yellows that we have going on. Again, do not use it everywhere. Just be careful to add it to a few places to centralize and just give harmony to the entire painting. Use this color to define some edges or separate some shapes. Little dabs in certain places. Also depending on where light source is hitting, you would want your dark tones in that vision more. For example, in this case, our light is coming towards the right, so I will be more mindful of putting more of the darks on the left side. 12. Defining Vase & Adding Highlights: Going back in with rust red or brown if you have that, and adding some pigment to the vase more towards the left side. Time for some highlights with my acrylic white paint, like always. Unfortunately, this palette does not come with white, so I like pulling out my acrylic white paint for that, which works just as fine if not much better. Using a tiny brush and adding in a few specks of white, especially in the bud of the flower. Then a few highlights in the petals as well, just for add it and trust. This will separate the shapes, so just add it in few places where you think it'll look nice. 13. Final Touches & Class Project!: [MUSIC] Last-minute final touches of dark tones, and we will call this done. But I really feel like this step is really important, and it pops the painting and adds great harmony and balance. It also has a very good visual interest and makes your eyes flow throughout the painting, so do not skip the step. I'm taking in dark brown and giving my buds some final touches and pulling out that color ever so slightly into the petals. The same steps we did before, but I'm just adding just a little bit more splash to it. [MUSIC] For last touches in the flowers, I wanted that vibrant pop of color. I'm taking in that light orange or Naples yellow as this pallet calls it and simply adding it closer to the center as added petals using the pointy full board brush for this. [MUSIC] Finally, let's add some darker values to the foliage and leaves as well. This time I'm almost going black but just added a bit of brown as well. Just a few touches, do not overdo it. [MUSIC] Let's make this official and sign our name. [MUSIC] Time to take this tape off to see what we've got here. Loving that tinted light-washed background. [MUSIC] This completes our loose, expressive watercolor sunflowers for today. I cannot wait to see what you guys come up with. Share your projects. I would love to see them and do not forget to leave this class a review. If you've enjoyed this class, make sure to follow me so that you do not miss out on future painting classes from me. [MUSIC] To shop my arts, do visit my website where I sell my original landscapes and florals, as well as prints in all sizes and much more. To keep up with latest news, do follow me on Instagram where you can stay up to date with my new launches. Thank you once again and happy painting. [MUSIC]