Watercolor Loose Peonies | Courtney McCulloch | Skillshare

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

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

Lessons in This Class

5 Lessons (20m)
    • 1. Hi there!

    • 2. Materials

    • 3. Examples

    • 4. Let's Paint!

    • 5. Final Thoughts

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About This Class

Hi everyone!  Thanks for joining me!  My name is Courtney McCulloch and I'm the artist behind Tulip Poplar Co. Today I'm going to show you how to create a simple, loose peony painting in watercolor. This class is perfect for beginners!  Even if you are not a beginner, I hope you find my process interesting!  I always love hearing about other artists' painting process and techniques.  As I progress through the lesson, I try to break down each step and help you understand how I work my way through the painting. 

A list of materials, with links, that I used for this class:

Meet Your Teacher

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Courtney McCulloch

Tulip Poplar Co.


Hello there!  I'm Courtney...the face behind Tulip Poplar Co.!  During the day, you can find me in my classroom in front of groups of middle schoolers...attempting to teach them about the rich diversity and awesomeness of the world we live in.  By the afternoon, I NEED the energy that painting with watercolor gives me.  Art is my passion and my outlet and I crave the joy that it brings me. I hope that I can share some of that with you! Check out my Instagram for daily inspiration!

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1. Hi there!: Hey, guys, I'm Courtney from to look pop work. Oh, and I'm so excited that you're joining me today. Peonies are my favorite flower and other a lot of people's favors because their war just And today I want to show you how I paint peonies. Everyone has their own techniques, but I'm gonna show you mind today. And I'm gonna go over the materials that I use my techniques and process for painting peonies. At the end, we're gonna come up with a gorgeous painting. And I'm really hoping you can follow along and share with me because I would love to see what you create, so stay tuned. 2. Materials : Okay, so let's talk materials. To start any watercolor painting, you're gonna definitely need water. I usually do two glasses, one for warm and one for cool colors. Then you're gonna need brushes. I'm gonna use two brushes here. They're both Princeton brand One is an eight round and one is a two round. You could get by with one brush. If you can make both delicate and thick strokes with it, you're also going to need a piece of paper towel and your paint. Now, any water color paint will dio I'm gonna use specifically Windsor and Newton professional and all link all the colors I use down below. And lastly, you're gonna need watercolor paper. And honestly, the paper is probably the most important. So I'm gonna be using Fabbiano Artistic Oh, extra white, 100% cotton. Ah, 100% Cotton is what you need to look for. Its going to absorb better. It's going to create more vivid color. It's just gonna look better overall. And I think that the number one reason people get frustrated with watercolor is there using cheap paper. So if you want this brand, this is what it looks like when it comes in a block. I usually by large sheets and then cut my paper to size. You could also use arches. And then there's some other good brands, like cancer that you could pick up. But just look for 100% cotton. If you really want good quality paper and that's it, let's get started. 3. Examples : Okay, So before we actually get into painting, I wanted to show you some examples. And as I talked about before, there are tons of techniques to paint peonies, and I'm just gonna be showing you mind. So I wanted to give you some examples of mine before we get started. I'm gonna be showing you today how to paint like an open, full, loose style panning, as you can see here. And I kind of always started out with the same technique. I start out with the 1st 3 pedals and then work my way out and around from there, says you can see 1st 3 pedals out and around. But there's a few different ways that you can take that technique on. And then you can change it so that not every single one of your Penis looks exactly the same. And the probably not going to even if you tried. But just to be on the safe side, as you can see what this one There's less white space than the darker pink down here. And so this one looks a little bit more airy, a little bit more open. And with this one, I've got the pedals coming down because have you ever seen a pne bloom? Usually the older they get, the more open they get in the pedal, starts kind of fall down and droop. So that's what I'm giving the illusion off right here. Um, with this pne, you can see the blooms or a little bit tighter together. I always like to make the center part a little bit darker because on a flower that has lots of pedals, usually the center parts are a little bit darker there, shadowed. And because the pedal, I guess it's getting less sunlight. But that's what I'm going for here. You can see I've got the pedals kind of coming down, and on this one it looks a little bit like a newer bloom, like a younger bloom, because it's a little bit more tight. There's not the pedals drooping down, and this one looks more like a profile view because I made these first pedals really close together and then on Lee. The back ones have a lot of white space, so it looks more like a side view of the pani. If you make your pedals lighter as you add layers, that's also going to create a nice effect so you can take this information that you learned today and then you can alter it. You can change it up to suit your style and your aesthetic, and that's the nice thing about painting, so let's get started. 4. Let's Paint!: Okay, so we are ready to get started. And I'm just gonna be honest with you. I don't know that there's a lot of terminology for the techniques I'm gonna use, so I'm gonna make up my own. And the 1st 1 is just did to create the pedals, you need to be able to swish your brush. And what I mean by that is we're gonna do almost like an m a shape with our brush. So you're gonna take it. Go down, go up, go down, go up, go down. Okay, because like that, you just do it fast. Don't think about it to switch your brush, OK? Because that's what we're gonna use to create the pedal so that they look more organic and so that they're not. We're not trying to create perfect little oval shapes. If you try to create perfect little oval shapes, then it's gonna look forced. It's not gonna look natural. So we're gonna swish are brush OK? And again, it's kind of like almost creating an M shape, right that as you can see, we'll give you, um, some little bumps in it, and then the bottoms not gonna be completely flat or completely round. It's just gonna have that organic shape to it. Okay, so if you could do that, then you can create this Pani. I'm gonna try to tell you guys the colors that I'm using as on using them, but I will also link them below. So to start out, this is permanent Rose. And this is Windsor and Newton professional. So we're gonna start out with the three central pedals, like I was telling you earlier. So these you can be a little bit more precise with these, because it is the center. All right, There's my theory. These three are touching. They don't have to touch, you can see with this one. The two were touching, and in this one, just barely the bottom. So the don't worry about what they look like, necessarily. Just three center, smaller pedals. And then I'm gonna add some water on my brush, and I start from the left and work my way around. Okay? The next pedal, but I'm gonna make is not gonna be a swish. It's actually, And what kind of come up hook around and then come back down and filled at him so that it is almost an oval, but you kind of come up, hook it down, and then leave some white space between it and your first pedal. So make sense. So then I add more water. And this is where I'm gonna use this wishes, some swishing, swishing, getting some more water, swishing and then just bringing that last wish down. Now, if you want your pne to be a little bit less loose, um or area guess less white space than you could make those touch. You could make those closer together, but I like some white space in there. I like to feel open. Great. So that's the first layer, and then you're just gonna do that again for another layer at the top, and then you can bring some pedals down here at the bottom. If you want to give that pne that open pne, feel where you can leave, it's up to you. I'm gonna do one up swish, swish. You don't have to do it. Don't make it uniform so that it's like one row, one row, see how this one comes up. And then I left some white space above it. Just kind of do pockets of it. You can do one more coming down over here. I think I'm gonna dio a pedal coming in over here on this side, Kind of like the first pittle kind of hook pedal. And then if you want to create pedals coming out honestly to just kind of big swishes. And now what I like to do is just add in some of that color. If it's still wet, you're gonna get thes thes bleeds, which are really beautiful. If it's a dried a little bit, you won't get this quite the same effect. But it'll still look nice. It's completely dry and you touch that wet paint to it. It's just gonna sit there so you could reactivate it by coming in with a little bit more water and then that will help it. Or, um, you could just kind off create a line out. So if you want, like, the veins of the pedals, all right. Now, while by pne is still, um well, actually like to paint some leaves because I like the believes that you get when you touch another color to the pne pedal, so I'll show you what I mean. So leave shape is just pull out. Press down. Come up, press down, come up and that's it. Okay, I'm gonna make that one a little bit meter, but that's your leaf shape. Now, what happens when I touch this wet leave to this wet pedal show you is That pedal is gonna believe into the leaf. And I just think that that's really pretty. Now, you might sometimes have, um, where the leaf actually bleeds into the pedal. Or you might have where the pedal bleeds into the leaf. It just depends on which one has water. But I just think that that is really pretty. I think that it just looks really organic and natural. Could hear my dog in the background. And so I just like that. Don't I wouldn't do it too often, but everyone so I just think that's really pretty. Okay, I'm gonna do a few more over here. Now, if your brush is too dry, you'll get what you see right here. Where bless you. Where the, um, there's some white spots in there, and so you can either leave it because adds texture, or you can go back over it with your breast you can see there my brushes again to dry. Okay, I'm gonna let those leaves dry and then move on. I'm going to the another flower real quick for you before we add in the details. Okay, So for the next flower, I'm actually going to use a combination of operas rose and wins or yellow, and it creates this nice coral color. So when I started out, our three senator pedals, Here we go. 123 We're gonna come in with the big hook pedal, and then our switches, remember, bring that last. Just bring that last wish on down and you're set. Can I do another hook Piddle around this side. And I touched that pedal to that one. So you're gonna get a little bit of a bleed. But because these air both kind of white paint colors, you won't notice it as much as you will. The pink in the green. There's not as much contrast. All right, we'll add another layer back here. I'm gonna add water to this. I want to be a little bit lighter, and then bring that last one down. All right? And then here my pedals that are kind of coming out, and I'm gonna leave it like that. I mean, you could add more in here. It's kind of like a who peddle and we're done. That's it. So you're three center ones. The one longer pedal to the side, you're swishes, and then do it a second time, if you want. I mean, you could just stick with that one. If you want a smaller flower, and then I'm gonna go in and we're gonna do some more leaves so that can show you how to layer those. And then we'll add the centers. So the two cars I'm using right now this is on all of green and a hooker screen. Just mixing those up. It's gonna be a little bit brighter green and the other one, always like Teoh, vary at my greens. If you use the same color green over and over, just gonna look flat. That's kind of the point to adding in the darker color is just so you have more variation, so it doesn't just look so flatten stagnant. All right, so you can maybe have ones little stim of flowers. Don't overthink this like I don't usually start out with a plan. Just kind of feel your way through it. Just painting intuitively. It's so much more relaxing and fun to me, then to sit there and think about my plan, because then if it goes wrong and I just start to feel bad about it, um, so you'll notice and don't really wash my palate out. I just kind of mix my colors up. And if I've got any leftover and I just rule, use that the next time or add to it with green, it's really easy, I could add. I could have blue and make it kind of a darker green where I could add more of that olive. I could have more yellow, so I just I'm changing up the color, but I'm never gonna waste them. Never gonna throw it away. That's a nice part about watercolor. It drives and you can come back to it. You can add to it, so I just kind of go around my painting and add a leaves just kind of filling in where I feel like there's some dead space, but I don't want to overdo it, so I'm gonna leave some white areas on the painting just so it's not overworked. And then once those leaves air dry, what you can dio is you can go back over it with another layer of leaves like I've done here, just to kind of add a little bit more interest so that you've got those layers. So it's it looks even less flat. So again, I just took a darker color and just kind of put some smaller leaves just right on top, not to money. As you can see, I've got, like, three little areas of it, and that's it. If you want Teoh, give these leaves more interest. You could if they're still wet. I don't know if this one is, um, you could add in just drops of wet on wet going to reactivate it. And so that's gonna make you know that part of the leaf a little bit darker and it's going Teoh just kind of spread out just a little bit. I think that the sinners air draw enough for me to work with. They're not completely dry, so it may believe just a little bit, but that's OK. I will be using a lamp black for the centers. You can leave your Penis without centers. Some people prefer that actually have some pennies that don't really have centers release. They're not really visible, so you could leave home. Or you can make them whatever color you want. I'm gonna using land black. I've also done peonies with, like, yellow or ah, pill orangy yellow center. That I think is really pretty. So it's just up to you. But whatever you do, just make sure you're using your smaller brush were just the very tip of your other brush. There's gonna create lines coming up from the top of those three pedals that we made. So you're three central pedals do some lines coming up. Careful not to go on top of those cause we're giving the illusion that those are in front off the sinners. And then I just create the little little tops again, not creating perfect tops here. And then I just come back through and had a few more. Even if they don't have a stem and that's it, you're eight. Someone do it one more time. It's pulling up. You want these lines to be fairly thin and then adding all types. I don't know the correct flower terminology. Stay Min. I'm not sure. Um you can see this pedal is a little wet, so it's gonna bleed out a little bit. It doesn't bother me. I mean, I think it's fun. Just a few more dots and we're done. Okay, So the panties are done. You can see that. Create that nice, lovely bleeder it there. That's that's what I live for. I love that. And you can see the these where we added in the wet on wet. It's kind of bleeding out and creating a nice effect. If you noticed this happening. This is a watercolor bloom. That's because this part was really wet and this part was dry. And so it's creating that fact. That doesn't bother me. It'll actually really like it. I think it looks lovely, but if that bothers you, you could just take a dry brush and come in and kind of let it absorb some of that excess water so that it's not doing that. But again, that doesn't bother me at all. All right, I'm gonna come back, and this is a mixture of oppression Blue and meridian. So it's a little darker, and I'm gonna add in another layer of leave leaves so you can see what I'm talking about. I don't know that all of these air to drive, but you'll kind of get what I mean. So I'm just layering on top of the leaves that are already there, and I'll do one over here because you can see that one is not draw. So I'm gonna leave that this way. Everything doesn't look so flat. It's got a little bit more dimension to it. Um, let's see now when you start to finish your painting, I like for there to be some contrast of some areas of lights. Mary's of dark so that your I kind of moves around the painting, and it's not just flat, and this area to me is looking a little flat. So I'm going, Teoh, cover that leaf up with a darker one. And I had a few more there. All right, I'm actually gonna make this one bigger. And let's see, maybe just a couple more down here. Well, yeah, right here. Okay. And you could I mean, you could keep going with this. Sometimes I get to the point where I think I've added to many leaves just love leaves, but I'm gonna call this one done. So the takeaways are Start out with you. Three sinner pedals create your long pedal to the side of it. I usually go with the left. You pick whatever you want and then do your swishes What? You're again. Kind of like ems creating like an m shape with your brush. It's all connected, um, off around, and then bring it down. And then you can just do that as many times as you want to raise many layers as you want. You can create the, um, the pedals kind of at the bottom. If you want that open feel, and then just add your leaves. And again, I like to add multiple layers of leaves also, like to add in wet on wet so that you get some nice areas of darker. That's kind of bleeding out and then add in your details. So your little centers and then your other layers that's it. 5. Final Thoughts: All right, so we're done. How easy was that? I'm so excited that you came along this journey with me. And I really hope that you're able to create your own pne painting and then share that. I love to see what you create also of your feedback. If you like this video, if you have any suggestions and be sure to follow along with me, I post almost daily on Instagram at Tulip Poplar Co. Thanks so much. Bye bye.