Watercolor & Ink Wildflowers | Amy Earls | Skillshare

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Watercolor & Ink Wildflowers

teacher avatar Amy Earls, 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

10 Lessons (54m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Resources & Inspiration

    • 3. Materials

    • 4. Example Artwork

    • 5. Technique I - Example I

    • 6. Technique I - Example II

    • 7. Technique I - Ink Details

    • 8. Technique II - Example I

    • 9. Technique II - Example II

    • 10. Final Thoughts & Thank You

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About This Class

Welcome to my class Watercolor & Ink Wildflowers! My name is Amy Earls and in this course, we will be creating watercolor and ink flowers in a loose sketchy style. The intent behind this class is to practice capturing color and shape in a relatively quick manner. To further this goal, I will offer two different exercises designed to help us develop a looser and more immediate sketching practice. These practices will help us to build our drawing and observational skills, both of which are really important skills for any artist to have, regardless of your style or medium. The instruction offered here is open to all skill levels, however, prior drawing or watercolor painting experience is helpful. If this type of thing sounds appealing to you, grab your art supplies and I will see you in class!


Meet Your Teacher

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Amy Earls

Watercolor Artist



Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Amy L. Earls. I am a watercolor artist and Skillshare teacher with over 20 years of experience in drawing and painting. I am most inspired by natural subjects such as landscapes, birds, and other animals.

A few things about me. I love coffee, almond milk lattes from my local coffee shop are the best! I have a soft spot for anything cute and furry, especially cats. If I could be doing anything other than making art it would be riding horses. Also, I am just a teensy bit obsessed with color. Red is my favorite!

Art and making things have always been a part of who I am. I started drawing when I was 18 months old. I did not go to art school for college, instead, I have bachelor degrees in General Studies and Gr... See full profile

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1. Introduction: Hi, my name is any ear off and welcome to class. This time around, we'll be creating watercolor and ink flowers in a loose, sketchy style. The intent behind this course is to practice capturing color in shape in a relatively quick sketch. This helps to build our drawing an observational skills, both of which are really important skills to have as an artist regardless of your medium or your style, the instruction offered here is suited to pretty much all skill levels. But of course, previous drawing or watercolor experience is always going to be a bonus. I don't know about you, but I've been spending a lot of time inside lately. So I also hope by focusing the subject matter on wild flowers or just flowers in general, that it helps to bring a little more nature into our lives and reestablish our connection with the natural world. If this sort of thing sounds appealing to you, grab your art supplies, and I'll see you in class. 2. Resources & Inspiration: All ready, So before we dive into materials, Let's take a minute to talk about some additional resources and some inspiration. I've put together a Pinterest board of reference images specifically for this class. And you can find the link to that down below or in the workbook if you haven't already, please take a moment to check out the downloadable workbook for this class as I've included a lot of additional information, as well as tips, tricks, Some best practices to really help you tackle this subject matter. We're kinda going to tackle this in two different ways. So for the first approach or technique, I'm going to just be using direct watercolor, which means no sketching with a pencil or a pen beforehand. I'm just going to dive straight in with just pure water color and then add my line work at the end. And then in the second technique we will do some very brief pencil sketch and then an ink sketch. But it's going to be done with a loose mindset. And I'm not going to like try to capture every little detail. I guess we're going to dive right into it. So I'm going to show some examples of the kind of style that I'm talking about. And I'm also going to pull up some Instagram accounts and I feel like really kinda go with this prompt, like their style. So this is the first account. I don't know how well you can see this. Her name is Kamila and she has a lot of really loose, loose, sketchy illustrations on her account. And this is exactly the kind of vibe that we're going for. Gorgeous. Okay. Second account is on Mar Win. And she is a really amazing artist. She has a ton of classes on Skillshare, so definitely want to go check out her stuff. But again, like really loose kind of sketchy style flowers. And it just feels really effortless and gorgeous like all of her work is so beautiful. So highly recommend those two accounts. And I will list their names out and put some links below the video so that you can check them out. 3. Materials: So as far as materials go, I'm going to be using my usual 2 H pencil, a white eraser, and then some kind of some looser, less, less controlled types of brushes. These are dagger brushes. And then this is a bamboo brush. I also have a little mop and a rigger brush here. I'm not sure if I'm going to use these, but I grabbed them just in case. And then for my ink work, I'm going to be using a dip pen. This is a really inexpensive nib holder with a mapping nib. And a mapping nib is a softer type of nibs so that you get more line variation. And with that, I'm going to be using sketch ink and I have a bunch of colors, but I thought black will just keep it simple. And this can be used in fountain pens as well. I really like this ink. This, this is a smooth paper. It does have some texture to it. I don't think it's actually watercolor paper. I think it is printmaking paper, but I don't know, I got it from a thrift shop and it seems to take the water just fine. Um, but I chose it for this particular exercise because the smoother texture of the paper will work better with my dip pen. These pens don't work very well on a really rough or highly textured paper. So that's why I'm opting for a smoother paper this time around. I also have my full palette with me today so that I can just kind of grab whatever colors I feel like there isn't going to be like a set color palette for this project. I will let you know what colors I end up using, but you really can use whatever colors that you want or that suit your subject. 4. Example Artwork: So materials aside, I just wanted to show you some quick examples that I've done in the past. This is from last April, and this was done with watercolor first, and then I did come back and add a little bit of ink. But you can see, I didn't finish. I decided that I liked the flowers better with out the ink. And sometimes that's just how it goes. Like it feels, right, just to not have any line work. And the other thing I would like to point out with this example is that I left a lot of white space. And I think that that's important for this exercise is that you're going to leave more whitespace than you normally would because we're not really going to have a lot of time to layer colors. We're really kind of tried to do mostly everything, all in one wash. And so you don't really get a chance to do the lighter than the mediums and the darks. We're really kind of skipping that first layer, going straight to the medium tones and then coming back in and dropping some darks in. Here's some more direct watercolor. And for this, I was just trying to capture the shape, the overall positive shape of the flowers and not go for detail at all. So that's definitely what we're aiming for, is a quick, kind of loose way of capturing the feel or overall shape of a flower. And not worrying so much about tiny details for taking a lot of time. And then last but not least, well actually I have a few more. But in this sketch book, this is, these are some Quince flowers that I started sketching. I did the water color first, wasn't super happy with the result. But then when I added the line work, it really helped create the edges that were missing from the watercolor to bring out all those different petal shapes. So you can kind of see how sometimes you don't really need the lines, but other times like the lines really helped this piece and really brought it together. There's those. And then in here I think I just have one in here that I wanted to show you, which was these dandelions. And I did the watercolor first and then added the line work at the end to just kind of help with some of the edges and the shapes of the leaves somehow. Sometimes it's fun to like put down some color and then you find the shape and redefine the shape as you add the ink, it's just a different way of working and it can create some really beautiful results. These are some that I just did recently to practice. And I like the way like this one came out. I kind of like the cone flower, the Butter Cups, not so much money shapes. My petal shapes are not as good and then I didn't like either of these, but that's That's not withstanding. Oh, here's some more. This is trickery. I thought that came out and I didn't end up adding line work to that one. I felt like it was fine without it, although it could look even better with line work. And then I was kinda struggling with poppies. Poppies are weird. They're just like very strange kind of unpredictable shapes. But after doing five or six of them, I finally got one that I was happy with. But you can see how the line kind of redefines the edges in a few places and makes the red blob essentially makes sense. I do have one more. Oh, here we go. So this iris, I was particularly pleased with this one being the last one that I did. I had all that practice kinda behind my behind me and it came out better, I think, than some of my previous tries. It may also be that I'm just more familiar with iris flowers than I am with, let's say kosmos or Butter Cups or whatever. Being from more familiar with, the subject really helps when you're just trying to capture the shapes in watercolor without any sketch beforehand. 5. Technique I - Example I: I'm going to start with my silver black velvet quarter inch dagger striper brush. Let's just dive right in. So I've got a Iris reference pulled up and I'm just going to start with the petals and go from there. And I'm going to be very spontaneous with my colors today. So I had a purple on my palette probably from the last iris I did. And just going to kind of go for it. Working really loose, just trying to flush out these shapes, not feeling like I have to fill in every bit of the paper. And it does not have to be perfect. Number one thing to keep in mind, nothing in nature is perfect. So I'm always going to be a little bit of asymmetry. I don't have as much control over this brush. It's kind of floppy. I'm just using the tip of this brush which is fairly narrow actually. It's also okay for things to overlap. Think it's valid to, to kind of say an address that tries to look at this negative space here. And there's a lot of veins in the center of the flower. Sticks out a bit more. All right, let's do some. So basically, I'm like, I'm drawing with watercolor. That's basically what's happening. And we're very kind of like simplified way of saying it. And this is not the only way to go about this, but this is going to be the first kind of method that I show you, especially with this flower. It's a little bit more complicated flower. I'm just kinda eyeballing it. You know, like I'm not stressing too much about because it right, Did I get it right? Just kinda go on for it. And my pigment is getting lighter, but that was not intentional. It's just because I'm running out of paint. I'm really enjoying using ultramarine and some cobalt and then magenta for this, and then also some very lighter blue. And this mix that I just grabbed now is going to be different than what I had before. I think it needs to be a touch more purple and also darker. So I'm grabbing Payne's gray to like these mixes because the granulate beautifully. It's okay for things to move together. If you're quick enough, you can kind of work wet and wet, which creates some really lovely results. I'm noticing mostly that the tip, so the flower tend to be darker, so trying to drop in some darker pigment in there. It can be messy. It's okay if it's messy and a little unpredictable because that's kind of what we're going for anyway, because messy and unpredictable. Because to be completely honest, that's the fun part of this exercise, is that you don't really know what you're gonna get. And as you can see, it's really easy to get mesmerized, trying to capture a lot of these little details. And you can kind of help the paint if you want, or you can just leave it. But I think the key is to not get too hung up on how it comes out. Let's see, I'm going to grab some green gold sap green. Start with the stem. And again, I'm just looking at the big shape. The overall shape. Grab some pure green here, little darker in value. And lay that in some places. The other thing is the blending of the pigments on the actual paper that really help bring this to life. Let's do yellow ocher this time. Get away with this when it's starting to dry a little bit more in and grab some paralleling green. Just adding a little more variation. Not loving this abrupt transition. So I'm just adding little clean water and that is it. That is all I'm gonna do for watercolor, for that. And it just needs to dry. And then if I want and they feel like it needs it, I can add in some more line work and you don't have to outline the whole thing. You can just add a line or two here in there where it helps enhance edges and create like extra contrast. 6. Technique I - Example II: Okay, So same brush and seeing basic neck technique. But this time, because of the way the flowers shaped, I'm going to try to capture the, the flower shape with the entire brush, like my whole brush mark, rather than just using the tip of the brush to kind of draw the flower. And this is really great practice for just mark-making in general. And it can be kind of tricky, so don't get discouraged if it does not look amazing the first time you try. Oh, this this brush is also a little tricky use. I'm using cadmium red light from White Nights. There's a pedal here. One over here. Three more cad red, just dropping in some more color. Bottom petal. But I think this edge needs to come out more Two. Okay? It's not perfect, but that's okay. I'm grabbing some pyrrole red. And I'm using this as like my corner unquote shadow color. And this is going to help me define a few more shapes in this flower. Just touch there. Grab some sepia. Just see if I can't drop it in here. I don't want it to get too crazy because it's very wet right now. So I'm just dropping in a little bit. And I will add more once that's dry. And then a quick stem grabbing again green gold and hookers green combination. Just carefully putting this in. And I don't really want to touch it to the red because if I do it will bleed. But maybe that's a good thing, right? This whole thing is getting colors to bleed together. So perhaps they shouldn't shy away from that. Let's grab some more perylene green as well. But there would be a shadow on one side. Okay. Dare I say it done. I want to wait for the center to dry before we add any more detail to that. And then of course, there will need to be ink at the end. 7. Technique I - Ink Details: Okay. I'm back. It's been a few days. These things have dried completely and now we're gonna switch gears and grab our pen and add some ink details. I don't want to outline the entire thing. I just want to add contrast and kinda define as some edges. Maybe add a few more little details where I feel like it would be beneficial. And I'm refining a bit, I guess you could say from the kind of initial painting right here, these edges are getting lost. And I want to make sure that is understood what is happening here and what's going on with the pedals, which is kind of confusing sometimes. Like I said, I don't think that every edge needs to be clarified, but some of them do. And I'm just trying to make sure that I am conveying the right message visually. Here. This edge is kind of getting lost. So I want to redefine that edge. This is indoors starts to get tricky. There's some overlapping here with these paddles. And I just wanna make sure that that's kinda communicated in the sketch. I really feel like this edge means a little help to get lost. I don't know, this part to me is kind of fun. It's like filling in the blanks. That makes sense. And then you can write the kind of flower if you want. You don't have to switch over to the poppy. Now, let's see this one. There's a lot of big shapes and overlapping edges. So it's really going to be helpful to get some, some edges established so the petals are not perfectly smooth. So it can be helpful to kind of make a broken edge or, you know, kind of a lumpy line. This side where I'm going to divide this because there's a lot going on here. I'm going to make this edge dark. And then here got like a lip of the pedal. It's folded over under. Similar thing happening here. And I didn't I didn't paint quite right, but it's okay to like fix it, quote unquote, when you're adding these extra lines. And I don't feel like the stem means outlining schema. Add a few little fuzzy bits. And then let's do something here in the center. Here is like a center point. Can I add a few little details on the leaves and leaves petals? If you want to really help to convey some directionality. I don't like overdoing this. Feel like it's better when you leave it. Really simple. But sometimes it can make sense to kind of add in a few of these lines. And like that's really all you need. We want, we're thinking basic here. We don't want to overdo it and we don't want to overwhelm our really simple sketch with too many like intricate details. Okay, So that's it. That's really pretty quick. The inking part is not supposed to be something that really takes long. It's just all about finding the shapes and then adding just a little bit of detail and contrast to tie everything together. And now that we've finished this, we can move on. And I will show you the second technique which does involve quick pencil sketching. 8. Technique II - Example I: This time around, we're gonna do a quick pencil sketch. And you want to keep this to like five minutes, maybe like seven minutes. If you're getting to ten minutes with your pencil sketch, it's too much, too much detail, too much time. We want these to be quick and fresh and more expressive because you're kind of working quickly. The whole point is to get faster at capturing your subject the first time. Rather than kind of going back and forth a lot, which is where I tend to do a lot of the time, you know, uh, start with shape and then I refine it in there. And, you know, it kind of renders down through some stages, but this is meant to be much more immediate. Okay? So I'm going to do some trickery this time. And I think I'm gonna do some dandelions from my last one and I'm looking at my rough friends. And the plant seems to be kind of segmented. If that makes sense. And I'm not going to get all of it on my paper. And that's okay. And I just kinda want some very basic markers as to where stuff is going to work. My window kinda lost my way here. It's a little bit of a confusing reference image. And I'm just trying to be very, what's the word succinct, I guess, but I don't know how you apply that to sketching. You just want it to be as simple as you can keep it really because that's the essence of quick. Quick sketching is just bare-bones. You know, like what is the minimal shape or line you need to convey your subject. And please know that I am no master at this. And I absolutely 100% tend to immediately want to shift into Rendering details, which is great. There's nothing wrong with that. It's just for this particular exercise. That's not what we're going for. And I can't really see and I'm really just kind of at this point making some squiggly marks. I'm making some very rough sketchy marks. And I personally, this is part of the reason I'm doing this is because I feel like I need more practice with this. I feel like I get a little stiff. Get a little like neutrally. Like I spend too much time and I want my work to be fresher and more like in the moment. Fill a gamete, this flower way bigger than that one, so maybe need to keep it smaller here. Let's see, let's see. This is like leaf sticking off. Okay, and then I'm just going to stick another one in here. I'm already at five minutes. So I'm taking too long. Part of the reason for that is because I'm talking I don't know what to do here. See now I'm going to rush even more because I'm taking too long. Okay. So extremely rough pencil sketch. I don't know if you guys can even see it. Very rough, very basic. Okay, and then I'm going to add my line work. Now. I'm grabbing my ink again. And this is the way that I normally work, the order I should say that I normally work in my line work first and then add color to it. Really doesn't have to be Zuber carefully drawn. Most people are not going to like no one, that it should have been different or two, like what your actual reference looked like. Do you know what I mean? Depends on what you're sketching. But for the most part, Lake, without having the reference right next to the image to compare, people are not going to know that you didn't capture it exactly perfectly right? Okay, I am going to move this flower down. I'm kind of improvising here, but I want to kind of change how this looks compositionally. And I'm working like I really am just kinda sketching and trying to just go with it as much as I can and not worrying too much about details. And honest, I was just thinking, maybe it's better for this specific exercise. If you really can't see what you're doing, because it kind of forces you to just make marks and go with whatever happens. Which is what I'm doing right now. I don't really know what the actual reference looks like because I can't hardly see it. Now oriented, this is not a completely unfamiliar subject to me. I have sketched sugary before. Oh, and I should have started with this other side. Trickery. How this petal look like the petals look like the ends were cut or something. Not the most amazing sketch era done, but it's done. Okay, So this, this needs to dry. And because it's a dip pen, It's going to take a little while for this to dry. So I'm going to give it a couple minutes and come back and erase my pencil lines and then we can add our watercolor. So it's dry erase all my pencil lines, mostly. And we're ready to start painting. I think this time I'm going to use this little quill brush. This is the sable. So it's going to hold a lot of water because of that, going to lend itself to a little bit of a messier time, little more water on the paper, little bit harder to control. Hopefully we'll get some juicy colors of this. And I'm going to do like I always do a grab a little green gold and a little sap green to make. And then I'm going to mix it with whatever this random color is on my palette. I'm just going to start dropping the sin. Not have to stay in the lines. Do not want to be super careful with how you do this. In fact, I'm just really trying to do it as quickly as I can. Not necessarily like in a sloppy fashion, but just lay that color in there. Don't worry too much. And in fact, I would even say, it's probably a good thing if you go to lines a little bit and also leave whitespace, going to grab, grab some undersea green this time. Maybe a little blue. Ultramarine, get a little bit of a darker green here and there. There's going to be shadows, of course. And I think it's beneficial to drop these in while the other paint is still wet so that everything kind of mixes nicely on its own and blends on the paper, creates some really beautiful results like that. And we can always add more if we want. And then now I'm going to grab some perylene violet and drop that in. You polices. And I'm not afraid of it mingling with the green. In fact, totally okay. If that happens, now I'm going to grab some live in now. I'm adding a good bit of water to it too much because it is countable peak and pretty wet, juicy wash. And I'm going to grab a touch of Fahrenheit or blue and drop that in in a more concentrated mix. In a couple places. Basically, the varied iter is my shadow on the flower. Okay. Myths maybe. As a finishing touch. Let's drop in some more dark so I'm going to return to my undersea green. Just pick a few spots to add that just to enhance some contrast. And I don't want too many hard edges, so I'm just going to soften that a little bit. Maybe dropped in a touch more. Alright, lets it super quick kind of loose, sketchy bars. So what you'd have fun with this exercise, don't worry so much about what it's gonna look like, but focus more on enjoying the creative Flow and kind of be in the moment with it. And just have fun with your art supplies. Like play around with different materials, see what helps you loosen up and experiment, try things. I know this is probably a little bit outside of some people's comfort zones. To be completely honest, it's a little bit out of my comfort zone. I mean, this is not how I normally work. I like to be more controlled a tend to get too caught up in the details. So this is kind of an exercise to help counterbalance that tendency of noodling too much and not that capturing details bad. I'm not trying to say that at all because there's nothing wrong with that. And if that's really and truly your style and that's fine. And trust me, there are definitely times when I want to create like a photorealistic rendering of something. But I think there's also value in the other end of the spectrum and working in a more loose and kind of expressive way for it. So sugary is done. And I think I'm going to do one more for you guys. 9. Technique II - Example II: So it's going to be the exact same process. I'm just going to repeat it with a different flower, right? So I found a reference photo I like to me a few minutes. So I decided at the last minute then I wanted to paint dandelions for this. All right. So I'm just going to kind of lay and some lines here. Not exactly how they look in the photo. I don't want them to be touching this one. And they don't have to be exactly the same. I'm going to do one over here where it can see scruffy bit. Okay, Really quick sketch that I think only took me about three minutes. So that's kinda what you're aiming for. So as you can probably tell, I am not trying to capture every petal. There's too many. And I would be here for ever trying to paint, rather sketch all of that. That's all I'm going to do for that one. S1, that a slightly different angle. And I'm just trying to capture the shapes without actually drawing all of them. Because again, it's just like too much. Take a moment to observe the directionality of the petals on the blossom itself. So if you look at the top of the flower in the center, the smaller petals almost stick up vertically and they're kind of slightly curved or scoop shaped. And then as you get away from the center, they start to fall outwards. And then by the time you get to the bottom of the flower, they are actually hanging down and pointing towards the ground. So it's important to capture these kinds of details because it will give the blossom roundness and volume and it will look more realistic even if your petal shapes themselves are not that accurate, you want to convey the fluffiness and like I said before, the roundness or spherical nature of the blossom itself. And by changing the direction of your lines, it helps to give your eyes and visual cues as to what is going on there. So here is the sketch. I still need to erase the lines. We're going to wait for this to dry. It shouldn't take very long because they don't have any big globs. And then we can get started with the watercolor. So as you can tell, none of these shapes are really well defined. It's just kinda messy. Petals and scribbles with some stems thrown on. I'm going to grab some yellows here on my palette and a little more green gold. And I'm going to start with my lighter yellow is going to be lemon yellow, which is not a perfect match for this. It's a little too green. Honestly here, Let's grab some. What does this Oreo and don't be afraid to leave whitespace for highlights and reflections. Don't feel like you have to fill in every little thing. We're still operating under the assumption that we're trying to capture the subject quickly, effectively, not rushed by quickly. Splatter is also something that kind of lends itself to this technique and can add some more dimension and just like texture in detail. A pale green for these stems. And it's okay to leave whitespace. And it's okay if it bleeds into the green. The green bleeds into the yellow rather. Grabbing a touch-up undersea green. And then let's go for little quinacridone, gold here as our shadow color. That was too much. But let's run with it. Just kind of dabbing some of that color out. Let me, let me add a quick touch here. Right? There you go. Some loose dandelions. 10. Final Thoughts & Thank You: Some final thoughts as we wrap up this class. And I thought I would add that this technique is great anytime you need to capture your subject quickly. So if you're sketching on location, if you're out nature journaling and you only have a few minutes before the weather changes or your subject runs off. Because it's a butterfly or a deer or something, that it can kind of help capture an essence in the moment quickly. It would even work for like an urban sketching kind of technique. So take your sketchbook with you, go out and sketch and you'll, you'll kind of see how these quicker, looser types of sketches can be useful. Sometimes it just helps you get the color down or like an idea out really quickly and then you can come back to it and refine it later. Like there's so many uses for these sketches. I really think you can kind of tailor it to yourself and your needs if you've made it this far. Thank you so, so much for watching. I really hope you enjoyed this class and I look forward to seeing your projects and I'll see you in the next one.