Acrylic Flower Painting: How to Paint Loose Abstract Roses Using A Reference Photo | Alifya P. Tarwala | Skillshare

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Acrylic Flower Painting: How to Paint Loose Abstract Roses Using A Reference Photo

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

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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

    • 1.



    • 2.



    • 3.

      Prepping Your Paper


    • 4.

      Warm Up: Part 1 - Sketch / Composition


    • 5.

      Warm Up: Part 2 - Color Study


    • 6.

      Examples of Mini Color Studies


    • 7.



    • 8.

      Outlining Shape


    • 9.

      Blocking in Darks


    • 10.

      Blocking in Lights


    • 11.

      Blocking in Leaves


    • 12.

      Painting Process 1 - Roses


    • 13.

      Painting Process 2 - Roses


    • 14.

      Painting Process 3 - Details


    • 15.

      Final Touches


    • 16.

      Final Thoughts and Class Project


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About This Class

In this class, I will be teaching you how to paint loose, abstract acrylic flowers using a reference photo. I will show you techniques on how you can take a simple photo and turn that into a loose and expressive style painting to make it unique and your own, without focusing on too many details. This class is perfect for beginners to intermediate.

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!



  • 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 a mini warmup session where we will draw out the composition and will show you some color mixing and application.
  • Outlining and blocking off shapes – I will teach you how to draw your shape by outlining and how to block off your darks and lights.
  • Painting process and details – I will teach you how you can layer and build your colors with small strokes to add definition and dimension.
  • Final Touches – This step will teach you how you can be more expressive by only adding a few strokes and marks.  

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

1) Paints:

  • Liquitex basics – Light portrait pink, Quinacridone magenta, White, Black
  • Arteza Acrylic paints (premium 60 set) - – pink, orange yellow, burnt sienna, oxide green, olive green, viridian green

2) Brushes: ¾ flat brush (background), 8 flat brush (roses and leaves), thin brush (details)

3) Strathmore Acrylic Paper - 

4) Masking tape -

5) Glass Palette -

6) Glass scraper -

7) Bowl for water

8) 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!



Share your final projects and progress shots with the class by uploading to the "Your Project" section. If you have any questions or need more tips, please let me know by leaving me a comment! I'm happy to help! :) Also, if you enjoyed this class, would highly appreciate if you could leave me a review or feedback! 


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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

Level: Intermediate

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1. Introduction : Hey everyone, my name is Alifya and I'm an artist here in San Jose, California. Welcome to my painting class. We're going to be teaching you how to paint these loose and beautiful roses using a reference photo. I will show you techniques on how you can use a simple reference photo and turn that into something more loose and expressive to make it unique and your own without focusing on too many details. And we'll go over how to prep your paper and all the materials that you need. We will also be going through some warm-up exercises that sketching and color studies. I will then show you how to begin your painting by first outlining and then blocking off your darks and lights. We will then also go to multiple painting processes, which will then add details and some last and final touches. This painting classes grade for a beginner, but also for someone who needs to brush up on their loose painting style skills. I will also be adding a class project which I cannot wait to see what you guys come up with. So let's dive right in and begin today's painting. 2. Materials : Alright, so these are all the materials that we will be using for today's project. I use these three brushes. This one I use for the background. So any, really any flat brush or any brush that you like would work. And then for the flowers and leaves, I just use this one brush. Again, I'm going to link everything in the description. And then this tiny brush is just used at the very end of my painting. You will need abled uses some sort of like rag or a paper towel that you have. For paper, I use acrylic Strathmore people and I basically just cut them into little sections. I cut my Into a six by six. Okay? And then I also use just so to prime my canvas. So this one is a bright white acrylic primer. And any brush for that, like I just keep one of these to use my ISO to two just away paintings. It's about as for the PyMOL section, this one is the tape that I use to tape down my entire painting. So it's called Artist's tape. It's really nice. And for my palette, I just have like a glass palette that I like using. It's really easy to clean up after you're done. So once you have like a glass scraper, you can just kind of clean all your paint up at the end. So this is it. All right? And then I just want to quickly go over the paints that we will be using. So this is by Artesia and I use pink bone Sienna and this orange, yellow. And then for the leaves section, I use these three different kinds of greens. Okay, again, I'm going to list everything in the description. And then I also use basics, Liquitex basics. So this one is like portrait, pink, black and white. And then I also have this magenta color. So you don't have to use exactly these brands in these specific shades. So you can really just use whatever you have and kind of, you know, just make the most out of it. 3. Prepping Your Paper: All right, so right before we begin, we need to do a bit of prep work before we can start. So you're, I'm applying JSON, which is like a primer for your canvas. It is really important to give at least one to two coatings of just so before you can, before you start painting. And also the step is super important to do if you are going to tape down here people, which I will be doing in the next step. So this basically ensures your painting from NADH ripping off the edges once you take the tape off. Otherwise it can rip. And I had to learn this the hard way. So yeah, any flat brush can work for the step. Apply a thin coat and you should be done. Okay, and then once you're painting has completely dried from the jostle part, you can then go ahead and take down of the four edges to your people. 4. Warm Up: Part 1 - Sketch / Composition: So before we begin, I wanted to show you a quick sketch for a composition. They are purposes. And then we will also be going through some color mixing to see our options. So I have a reference peak in the corner here, which I will be using roughly just for the flower. I will be rendering this quite a bit and adding my own flair to it. Once we begin painting. To capture the drawing section, you want to look at the overall shape and not focus too much on details. This is going to be a loose interpretation of these flowers, so we are simply trying to get an impression of them rather than every single detail. Now if you're having trouble with this section, squinting your eyes while you draw can help to look at the bigger picture and you'll be able to break your drying up in sheets. So now that I have got the outside shape of the flower, I clearly see a middle bud section, which I am going to draw out next. And then inside that, I will divide them into further little shapes as well. Okay, and similarly for the second flower, I am going to put in the middle but section because that is the main focus. And then just a few little lines for the outside part of it. But he had this can be a really good starting point and it'll give you a nice general idea of your flower shapes. And then once you, once you begin painting, it'll just become a lot easier once you have your basic drawing down. And then I also filled up the upper right corner section with some leaves to fill up the composition. And I will probably add a lot more of these around the flowers as well. 5. Warm Up: Part 2 - Color Study: Okay, now let's move onto some color mixing and color studies here, I will be using a combination of liquid tax base expands and IT sapiens for this project. But feel free to use whatever paints you've got at home. I will be listing out all the names of the parents I use in the description. So make sure to check that out if you need additional help. So in the Liquitex basics paint set, I am using light portrait, pink, magenta, white, and black. And for the RTCP inside I'm using pink, orange, yellow, buoyancy and olive green and oxide green. For this next step, I'm going to show you the color by itself. And then we'll mix it with white and then black to show you the different variations you can get when you need to add dimension to any object. So adding white to any color can give you a great selection of low lights and highlights depending on how much weight you add. And then adding black can give you your dark tones. And then mixing them in between can also give you a variation of mittens. So once you get the concept of color mixing and how to, how by adding white and black and give you your mid tones and dark tones, you can then give dimension to any shape because now it will no longer be flat. This is a really good practice to keep before you start any painting project. I would really recommend you to do this, especially if you struggle with getting your composition and just placement. So getting done a quick sketch before you begin and also doing a quick color study can really help you visualize your painting and approach to make it easier. I can already see myself using a lot of these colors for this project. And also you can see how these colors look side-by-side. I mean, our views every single color, obviously, but, you know, it was just a good reminder for me to see what is what I can come up with, just in case I need to add something here and there. Alright, so for our last warm-up exercise before we actually begin is to use these colors into our sketch. They'd be made to give us a better inclination of what to expect. I call these mini warm-up exercises just for you to visualize the colors together. Again, this is going to be a very rough sort of exercise, but I cannot stress on how much the step can actually help, especially if you struggled with color and visualizing where and how you're painting can turn out. This can give you a rough understanding and almost a sense of confidence to tackle your painting. So I'm starting here with some directs and then I will add some mittens on top along with some low lights and highlights. I'm also very roughly getting in some of these greens to see how they will look against the pink and PG tons. At this point, I felt like I wanted my flowers to be more on the orange side. So I added a few strokes of orange to see how those colours will job at the others around it and why you're painting. Also think about what colors you want for the background. I want in my file was to be a bit more software. So I'm gonna go with a more neutral color for the background. She will see me doing in the next step. But you're also adding a background YOU pin. This is also a really good idea. 6. Examples of Mini Color Studies: So I just came across these mini warm-ups from previous paintings that I've done in the past. The origins have been sold. So I really cannot show you how these turned out, but you can still get an idea of how I play with composition. And I just test out different mid tones and values and just how these red slip against the blue and the background and so forth. So we have some more. So this one right here, actually I do have the original. I'm working on a new collection at the moment. So as he let me zoom out a little bit so you can see, there you go. So as you can see this one here, I quickly sketched it out. And just to see and you can compare like the backgrounds. And all of this looks exactly like how, how I kind of envisioned it. So it can really help to put things in perspective. I also did this little guy. So you see this sketch that was a little mini warm-ups just to see how the colors look against each other. And these are all the colors that I have used in this painting. I hope you guys can see. I think you can. Okay. So these are all the colors that I used in this painting. And I also made little notes like I wanted a 60% to be my greens and my secondary color to be like these little neutrals. But yes, it's a really good little exercise to do before you begin your painting session. I do have one last one to show you. So so this is the swatches. And then I did a little quick study of how my landscape would turn out. But yeah, so no matter where you are on your journey, whether you are a beginner or intermediate or advanced painter. I still think these can be super handy and useful on a regular basis. Just get into a habit of doing this because it can, it can relieve us. It can really improve your skills, I think, and it can help to just simplify the process. 7. Background : Let's begin the painting by getting a background color enforced. I do not obvious paint the background for us, but for this specific painting, I wanted unusual tones similar to the flowers, that our forest will be easier to blend in the flowers. So I went with the Liquitex, basic slight portrait, pink, burnt sienna, white, and a little bit of black. To quit this mixture. I'm actually really happy with the way the background turned out. It's kinda like the Sandy sort of beige tone, which I think will end up looking really pretty. 8. Outlining Shape: Okay, so this next step is the outline phase. This is done to establish a composition and layout of your piece just so that you know where things can go and what you can expect. You can get as detailed as you'd want in the stage, but I prefer doing a simple rough outline. So I am using one sienna and a rough brush to make this outline. For this step, look at your reference. Pick carefully and draw out what you think defines the shape. For me that center around the middle section and the bud is what defines the flowers. So I got that in along with a few outside petals. A good tip to not strap yourself from getting to a detailed is number one, squint while you look at your reference photo. This helps you to look at the overall shape rather than specific tiny details. And number two is to hold your brush from the back of the handle. So this will really help immensely to give you that lose painting style. Okay? Okay. 9. Blocking in Darks : This next stage I call the blocking off stage, where we simply block in some darks and lights to simplify the shapes. So I'm starting with my darks forest, and for that I'm using magenta, burnt sienna and some orange. I am basically going over the outline. They'd be made already with, you know, with the buoyancy and in the previous step. And I'm just defining that more with some of these drugs. So this is the shadow part of the painting. There'll be a painting here if you're a little bit confused. And so if you look at the reference folder, you will see each petal connects to another. There is a shadow at the bottom of each layer. So that is what we are trying to block off. 10. Blocking in Lights : Okay, great, so now moving on to blocking off those mid tones that we see here, which is basically all of those empty spaces in between. So breaking down your shapes into your mentors and your darks makes it a lot easier to start off with. And it really does simplify the process because now we have taken care of all the big chunks of the flower shape. And after this, it's just kind of fine tuning and adding in all the details. So here I'm using pink, orange and some weight to block off all that peachy tones. So BC in the flour. Okay. 11. Blocking in Leaves: Now it can be a completely blocked off the flower. I'm also going to go ahead and block off some of the leaves as well. So I'm using oxide green and burn CNR to get some basic leaves here. So thinking of composition here I am placing these leaves where I think it looks good. And I'm also trying to balance out the color evenly. 12. Painting Process 1 - Roses: Alright, so now that we're done with our basics of filling in and blocking off shapes. Now it is time to make it more expressive by adding in more color and details. I'm starting out with those light PG tones that VC in the flower. And I'm filling them by adding simple and short strokes. Remember this is E and Louis style paintings, so keep it simple without always stressing about the fine details. Look at the overall shape and break them down into color and shapes. 13. Painting Process 2 - Roses: You can very well leave this painting as is. Maybe just add a few more leaves in the background and you will still end up looking really nice. But I'm going to push these colors a little bit more further. I'm going to make it a bit more expressive. So I'm going back to those dark shadows and writing up some of those sections a bit by using some magenta and orange. I am now using some pink magenta bond Santa black and white to create this deep plum color to add to some of the deeper shadows. So these flowers, I will be painting a PC tone over this, but this is just there too. You know, slightly peek through and to add more dimension to your overall shape and your flower. 14. Painting Process 3 - Details: Okay, so now I'm going back with my peachy tone and popping died in places where I see that in the reference photo. I wanted my flower to be a bit more on the Orangi side. So I went in with my yellow, orange and white to added in a few places to brighten up I favor a bit. You'll notice most of what painting really is is going back and forth between your lights, darks annual maintenance, and overlapping those layers to create form and dimension. So here I am working in with those lights again and hitting those ends of the petals that I see in the reference photo. So since we are trying to paint this in a more painterly style, so quick short strokes are enough to give you that impression of the shape. Beyond too focused on the exact shape and the details, but simply an impression of the object. Using some olive green and white, I am adding a few strokes and impressions to the leaves. Just to add more color to the background. I am using some direct orange, yellow this time to add some pop and places. Add some white to that yellow, orange to define some of those highlights a bit more. Using the corner of your brush or holding your brush straight out can help with getting more strokes. 15. Final Touches: This step is optional, but I like adding these quick painterly marks with a long thin brush. So using the invite and a long thin brush, I very quickly add these marks to give it more shape and to make it a bit more expressive in a subtle way. So I start off with the center, but to sort of round the sheep and the middle. And then I also add these marks around the rows to the outside as well. I also add these little marks to the leaves to make the background a bit more fun. And then I also take some black and put these marks in the center and just little cases. I also follow adding the same marks with some orange and some magenta. Just to kind of make it a bit more playful. And as we come to the end of this painting, I am just giving it some last minute final touches, but some lights and darks and we'll be done. The part B all have been waiting for this is seriously the best parts taking off the tape is so satisfying and slow, exciting at the same time, I absolutely love it to be are left to clean edges. And that is great. 16. Final Thoughts and Class Project: Thank you all so much for watching and I really hope you guys took something useful from today's painting class. It is perfectly natural to feel a little overwhelmed in certain sections, but that is exactly what I'm here for you. So feel free to comment in the discussion tab below and let me know if you struggled with any part and I can clarify any section at all, I will be more than happy to help out. With that said, we do have a class project which I would love for you guys to dive into. And I cannot wait to see your version of these flowers. Phi1, phi2 print the reference photo that I'm going to provide in the description so you can print that out and use that for your class projects. Once again, thank you so much for watching and I'll catch you. Bye guys.