Learn to Paint Detailed Watercolor Illustrations: A Nasturtium Flower | Anne Butera | Skillshare

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Learn to Paint Detailed Watercolor Illustrations: A Nasturtium Flower

teacher avatar Anne Butera, Artist. Instigating creativity and joy.

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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.

      Studying and Sketching the Flower


    • 4.

      Mixing Paint


    • 5.

      Painting the First Layers


    • 6.

      Adding Layers


    • 7.

      More Layers and Details


    • 8.

      Final Details


    • 9.

      On Your Own


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About This Class

In this class I take you step by step through my painting process as I create a detailed watercolor illustration of a nasturtium flower.

I share my favorite tools and supplies, take you to my garden to look for a subject and then I show you how I paint from initial sketch to final details. Along the way I share my tips and suggestions for how to get the best results, how to react to the process and how to deal with mistakes.

By starting with simple compositions of single botanicals, you will be able to build your skills. Eventually you can take what you learn from simpler paintings and apply those skills to more complex pieces.

Meet Your Teacher

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Anne Butera

Artist. Instigating creativity and joy.

Top Teacher

I'm a full-time artist, art educator and writer, but for a long time I believed I wasn't good at art and could never be an artist.

The beginning of my story might sound similar to yours. When I was a child I loved to make things, but as I grew up I "learned" I wasn't good at art and stopped making it.

But that wasn't the end of my story.

I love teaching on Skillshare because through my classes I can help YOU reclaim YOUR creativity. I know what it's like to yearn to make art but not know where to start.

Are you ready to begin rewriting your story?

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Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction: Hi. I'm Andrew Tara from the website and blog, My Giant Strawberry. I'm passionate about gardening, flowers, painting, and encouraging you to embrace your creativity and discovery your joy. I'm a self-taught artist known primarily for my detailed botanical watercolor paintings. Nasturtiums are some of my very favorite flowers both to grow and to paint. I've painted them numerous times, singly, with other flowers, in a bunch, on the vine. I've even created fabric designs based on my nasturtium flower paintings. In this class, I'll share how I paint a nasturtium, taking you step by step through my process. I'll share tips for taking a painting from unfinished to finished, and I'll share how I deal with mistakes. If you're just getting started with painting, or you've been painting for a while and you'd like to hone your skills, I'm hoping that you'll find something to take away after taking this class. If you'd like to learn how to paint a nasturtium flower, click Enroll, and I'll see you in the first lesson. 2. Materials: Before we get started, I wanted to tell you about the materials you'll need for this class. First off, we need paper. I've cut a five by seven piece of arches cold pressed watercolor paper, it's from this block. Feel free to work in a sketchbook or on a block of watercolor paper. This is how I prefer to work, it's just a little easier to film on the smaller paper. Because the block is taken all four sides, it helps keep the paper flat, which can become a problem or wrinkling of the paper can become a problem when you're using lots of water. This stayed pretty flat, but you can tell still there's a little bit of a buckle in it. This is a 140 pound cold pressed paper that I use. Use whatever you're comfortable with and try and get the highest quality paper that you can afford. You're also going to need some paint and I have a few different brands that I like to use. They're all pan paints that I put together some of my favorite colors. I'll share all the names of the colors and the brands in the handouts. Use whatever you most are comfortable with. You're going to need brushes. I'm using the Blick Master series brushes in both synthetic and kolinksy sable, use a variety of sizes. You need a flower or some subject to refer to when you're doing your painting. If you don't have a physical flower, photograph will work well too. I've included an assertion photograph in the handouts in case you want to work from that. I use some paper towels to block my brush. That's taking off excess paint, excess water. It's also good for cleaning up mistakes. A jar of water to wet my paper, wet my brush, and for mixing the paint colors, you often don't see this in my videos because it's off out of the cameras viewpoint but it's really important because that's how you mix the colors, that's how you apply the paint to the paper. Use a mechanical pencil to sketch out my design. I erase with both the eraser that comes on this pencil. It's white soft eraser, works very well in arches paper stands up well to that. I also use a kneaded eraser to remove some of my pencil lines and it's a nice way to get your lines a little less dark. You're going to need a palette for storing and mixing your paint minus plastic. It has a number of different wells and different sizes. I like the large size wells because you can make a lot of paint. Also gives you room for mixing color variations. I think that's about it. In the next lesson, we'll get started. See you there. 3. Studying and Sketching the Flower: We're out in my garden looking at some nasturtium plants. I'm going to bring some flowers into my studio,we are starting the summer, and the plants are a bit battered, but I think we'll be able to find a few. Here are the three that I brought in as examples, we are going to study the shape of the flowers before we start sketching or painting. The nasturtium has five petals, and it's got an interesting shape. Lots of little bits, we're going to paint them all. In the back, there are five sepals, and a long nectar spur that sticks out, and then there's also the stem. We're going to paint all those little bits. Take a look at some of these other flowers for the coloring, and to study those parts. The petals on the bottom are a bit fringed. You can see the back again. The back is fun to paint too, but we're going to paint it from the front, today. You can see those fringy petals, and the anther and filaments in the front. There are some stripes on those sepals. This is going to be really fun to paint. I'm going to start with a simple sketch on our watercolor paper. I'm using the arches cold pressed, and a simple mechanical pencil. I'm going to sketch out the basic shape. Just an outline, those five petals. In my angle, and what I'm seeing is slightly different than what you're seeing of the flower in this video, so if things don't quite match up, that's why, don't get confused. Those are the top petals. They zoom in towards the center back part of the flower. You can see a bit of a sepal in the back overlapping, we'll paint that too. Here's one of the bottom petals. I'm paying attention to where things overlap with the edges look like. I'm not sketching out the fringe, we'll paint that in later. Just getting the basic shape down, so I know where to put the first layers of paint. These five petals, a little bit of the sepal, and we'll do the stem. I'm just going to sketch a simple line for the stem. May even erase it before it comes time to paint. I'm going to sketch out the spur sticking out from the bottom of the flower. We have to change the arrangement of that later, but I'm going to leave this like that. In the next lesson, I'll show you how I mix my watercolor paint to get ready to paint this flower. 4. Mixing Paint: Starting off by mixing some paints, I use three brands of watercolor pan paints. I'll give you all the details in the handouts, so you don't have to scramble to take any notes. Starting out with a warm yellow. This is called yellow deep. I mix by adding some water to my brush, rubbing the paint, and then scraping and rubbing the paint onto my palette until I think I have enough for what I need.I usually don't use just one paint in a mix, but I like the way this color looks, so I'm going to leave it just like that. For this next color, it's a lighter yellow. I'm going to start with hansa yellow, using the same technique. Wetting my brush you don't see, but off camera I have a jar of water. So I wet my brush, rub it on the paint, rub it on the palette, scrape off the paint from the side, going to add some lighter, cooler yellow. This is a Winsor Newton cadmium lemon, and just mix. Here, I'm going to start the third color. I'm on an orange. This is red orange, using the same technique. Trying to get as much paint onto my brush as I can and then get it off my brush onto the palette. This color I use a lot so there is not that much left in the pan. But we'll have enough. Going to darken it up with some cadmium light red, so we have a nice deep orange for the tones of these petals. Now let's take a look at the flower and see what else we need. We need some green, we need some red, so let's start with this green, a warm bright green. This is pthalo green light. It's a very bright color. Same technique with the water and the paint. Going to add some o f that yellow deep to warm up and deepen this greeny color and then also some of that cadmium lemon. It's good to use the same colors in your mixes to help unify your painting. I think that's a nice greeny color for this nasturtium. For the red, going to start out with some madder lake red light. Got a nice amount of that on my palette. Then, we'll add a deeper color too. Think this claret will help deepen it up. That looks good. Just swirling the paints together, get a nice deep color. Now this last color, going to use for the stamens in the center. I'm starting with some yellow ocher, another pale color here, trying to get as much paint onto the palette as I can. Add in some burnt sienna to deepen it. Swirling my paintbrush on the palette, scraping up as much paint as I can, to try and get some more of that yellow ocher in there. I think I will brighten it up with some yellow deep. There we go. In the next lesson we'll start painting. 5. Painting the First Layers: First thing I'm going to do is take this kneaded eraser and lighten up the lines in my sketch. If I blot the page, pushing the eraser against the lines, it will lighten them. The graphite I'll stick to the eraser and our outline will be there but a lot paler. This is really helpful because if watercolor paint goes over pencil lines, then they won't erase. I don't want to see pencil lines in my finished painting. Now that we've lighten that up I'm going to start working on the painting. Start by wetting the page with my brush and I'm just wetting one single petal. I'm going to paint this petal by petal and not painting anything that overlaps one another so that our paint will stay where we want it. I'm going to do wet on wet for this first petal and see how it goes. Now that that shape is wet, I'm going to wet some of the paint, grab it up with my brush and drop it in. So you can see here I'm dragging the paint and also letting it flow a bit on its own. Flowers a little hard to see. So filling in that shape of the petal, making sure the whole space is filled, going to now paint another petal but this one I'm going to paint with the watercolor directly on the page not first wetting the petal. Sometimes I'll use wet on wet, which is what we did for the first petal. Sometimes I'll use wet and dry which I'm doing for this petal. Using this large brush, it can hold a lot of water and release a lot of water too. So I'm looking at my flower and seeing that there are some shadows, some folds in the petals that create lights and darks, dropping in some darker orange to hint at those shapes. This first layer that we're doing is not, is definitely not going to be our last. So depending on how this dries, we may need many more layers or at least one more layer we'll see. Okay, now this is dry. You can see the tone is almost uniform. I'm going to erase the pencil lines so that when I paint the overlapping petals, I'm not going to paint over those lines. I'm just using the eraser that's on my mechanical pencil it's a nice soft white eraser. This arches paper can stand up to the erasing without getting damaged. So now I'm going to paint another one of those petals I wet. Still see a line. As I said before if you paint over the pencil marks, they're going to be impossible to remove so, I try and make sure they're entirely gone. So here when a second top petal this one overlaps behind the first petal we painted. I'm trying to use a slightly less wet mixture of the paint. See if we can have a darker tone right off the bat with this petal. Painting up the shape the tip of the brush gives a nice clean line and it can be used for detail work. I'll paint another petal that is on the bottom, doesn't overlap with the other wet one that we just did. So I don't have to worry about the paint spreading where I don't want it to. This one overlaps behind that first bottom petal. Work on making sure that I cover the space and have a sense of lights and darks. Add a little bit more paint and to my brush and then paint the fifth petal. This petal also overlaps with the first bottom petal, but again it doesn't touch any of the other wet spaces on the page. Can add in some of the orange and just drop it in there. These petals, the top petals fold and I dropped in the color around to create that fold. Here I'm adding some of the brighter yellow, just to warm things up a bit and make the color a bit darker. In the next lesson, we'll add more layers to these petals. 6. Adding Layers: Okay. Now that our third, and fourth, and fifth petals have dried, and we're going to erase the lines that are still left around the petals. You can see that using slightly drier paint, adding in more colors, that helped these last three petals to be darker than those first two that I painted. We're going to make them even darker now by adding some more paint. This mix now is even dryer. Dryer paint flows less than wetter paint does, so it'll stay where I put it a bit better. Now with these additional layers, we're going to really give a sense of the three-dimensional shape of the petals. The folds, the shadows, and I'm going to switch to a smaller brush here. First with that medium, yellow, you can see we're going through quite a lot of this paint. Going to add some of these folds. It's going to take a while to build up the layers to have enough definition in depth, the right darkness. Going to blot the brush and use that to lift off some of the paint, and then I'm going to drop in some of the brighter, light or yellow, and then come back with this darker yellow. Oops, that brush left a mark on my page which can be erased or removed with that paper towel. Don't fret if you have a mistake like that, it's easily rectified. Here we are. Just adding more tones, some darkness, lifting off some more paint because that's what I'm really going for here at some orange to deepen it along that fold, and then add in those ridges, dropping in the paint, moving the paint around with my brush. Really need a sense of that three-dimensional shape. I'm softening these lines, moving in, mixing the paint on the page. While things are wet and still flowing, you can do this. Soften the lines, mix the colors, give some depth. I'm going to move onto this next petal and start with the yellow. Brightening things up, lightening the color, deepening the color, making sure I covered the entire space, and adding some of this orange mixed with the medium yellow, so I'm dabbing the brush as well as smoothing it over the paper, dropping the paint in on the page. This is just how we're going to do the rest of the painting. It's a slow process layering the paint, adding colors, adding marks, lines, details. Now this green using to paint the sepal that we can see. This is in the back of the flower, but we can see it from the front because there's a space between the petals. This almost leaf shaped sepal overlaps that yellowish green. Again, I'm being careful not to touch the other wet parts of the page so that paint doesn't mix and flow, I don't want it to. Lift up some more. Now that this petal is a little dryer, I'm going to lift up some more of the paint. You can see that's already keeping a more three-dimensional effect, the shadows and folds of this wrinkly petal. Just drag the brush across the page, and I'm going to drop in some more dark to deepen these tones. The lighter places are popping out, the darker lines fade back, and give that sense of three dimensionality. These petals are folded or ruffled. So just watching and seeing what the paint does and reacting. That's how we do it. It's a slow process, but if you take your time, you'll be rewarded. Going to continue here. Paint is dry enough, I think that I can add some more tones to this petal even though it's touching, if you want the paint to flow here I'm speeding up the video. Because we're just doing what I've been doing all along, adding more paint, moving it around the shape, adding in some darker color, dropping it in, making a sense of those lines, those folds, that ruffled shape. There's dabbing and moving. I'm constantly moving my page. Here, pointing to the top petal. Still using this small brush, I think I have a little more control with the smaller brush, it's a little less wet. Adding in some orange on that fold, and now it looks like the paint is flowing a little bit into that sepal. We'll fix it, it'll be okay. Just giving that sense of the shape, lifting up some of the paint, adding in some darker colors and see where it's overlapping, I'm adding a little more. Just dropping in details, try and lift off some of that color from the sepal, and lift up some color from that petal. Drop in a little bit more of that darker color, so I'm not seeing enough contrast. Just keep working with it, that's all it takes with watercolor, just keep working. Now that those other petals are dry, I'm going to add more paint to the last petal working in just the same way, adding in dark tones, lifting up some paint for lighter tones, touching up some of the others, I'm adding in the other sepals that we see from behind, and that center green part is dropping in that paint, adding more, lifting up some of the color for details, and there we go. In the next lesson, I'm going to continue adding layers of paint and start painting some of the finer details. 7. More Layers and Details: At this point in your painting, it's easy to get frustrated and think you're not getting anywhere. But with some more details and a few more layers, you'll be surprised how well your painting will end up. We're going to continue those details. I just painted the center, that little green part, and now I'm going to attach the bottom petals to the center of the flower. These bottom petals have thin stems that attach them. Then they're going to have the thrilled edges, like fur looks like. I'm going to start with these thin stems, having them reach to that center part of the flower. I'm using a very fine tip brush. Now I noticed that that top petal wasn't quite attaching right. I can fix that by adding a bit more of the deeper, medium yellow color, mixed with some of the lighter yellow and go over the whole petal so there's not an obvious demarcation. Just blend this bottom part of the petal at a little bit of darker, orangey color. We'll just blend it so it looks seamless, looks like it's always been there. Sometimes when you're painting after the lines are gone, you notice that you didn't quite paint it correctly. Sometimes it's easy to fix and sometimes it's a little more tricky. But I think we're going to be okay with this. Working on that fold, working on some darkness again, just giving another layer. I think that looks pretty good. Now I'm going to paint those sepals, give another layer to those, and just adding some tones to it, some green, just another layer. We think this one needs to be a bit bigger. Just adding paint to the page. Then there are two more sepals on that bottom part. I'm going to paint those in around behind the stems of those petals. Just make every of those details that are in the back of the painting. Now, the top petals have some stripes to them that we saw in the beginning. I'm painting it with that dark red. It's the colors are deepest and the most of the stripes on the inside part before the pedal curls up and folds. I'm just going to slowly with this fine number 1 brush paint these lines. You really need to take your time here. There's no rush. You want the lines to be nice and fine, and to follow the shape of this petal. It doesn't go all the way up into the pedal just a bit. Let me just slowly add more. It deepens the color these fine little lines so that center part looks very dark. It lightens towards the top of the petal as it curls up. I'll do the same thing on this other petal. Just take your time. I've sped up the video. But you get the idea. I'm going very slowly. Add some more details in here. Fine, fine lines like little hairs. So it makes the [inaudible] n flower so interesting. These tiny little details makes it fun to paint too. You can get a big impact with a little bit of paint. Now I'm going to paint these little fringy hairs. I'm using the medium yellow mixed with some orange running out of paint here, but I want a nice thick deep paint color, so it really shows up. Although I'm using the same brush, they're a little bit thicker and wider than those red stripes on the top petals. So just slowly paint them in until I'm happy with how many. Now there are some fine lines on the petals that are not that saying deep color. I'm just going to paint those in with this other yellow. Just adding the details. Just giving it a little more depth than definition, following where those red lines ended. Adding in with the yellow helps to define that fold to where the petal curves. I'm going to put some in the bottom petals too because they don't have those red lines, but they do have some veins and folds. Just adding some darker, thicker paint. This is not wet and this fine tip to brush really helps you put the pink where you want it. I'm just going to continue adding little bits these details where I feel I need them. Don't go over the entire flower like this, the bottom petals, the top petals. This paint is fairly dry and the paper is fairly dry. You know that where you put these marks, that's where they're going to stay. Just I always take my time and take a look at a painting, see where it needs some more. The flower just out of sight of the camera so I can refer to it. But I also just take a look at the painting itself and see where it needs some work. What will help balance it out? What will make the flower look more realistic? The last parts we're going to paint in this segment are the male parts, the stamens. Before I paint them, I'm going to just put a little definition at the center. That centered green part is the ovary of the flower. I just need a little definition. But the male parts of the flowers, they're made up of elongated dots where the pollen is. Those parts are called anthers. I'll paint a few of them in where there's space. Then attach them to the center. These little lines, those are called filaments. They're like stems attaching the anther to the center of the flower. Just using this fine brush painting in these little light colored lines to give the painting the final botanical details that make your painting look realistic, what sets it apart. We're getting so close now. I'm going to stop this lesson here. In the next lesson, we'll add the final details and the stem since that's still missing. I'll see you there. 8. Final Details: We are so close now to finishing this painting. Just a little bit more details and we'll be done. I'm going to paint the fine lines on the sepals now with that red that we used on the top petals. Because the sepals, at least the top three sepals have red lines, just like the top petals do. I'm painting them a little bit broken because that's how they look on the flowers. Not perfect lines. Just adds that special quality of the painting. A couple of parts are missing still, I haven't painted the stem yet, and it's usually the last thing that I paint, and the nectar spur, that's what I'm going to paint now. I'm not following my sketch. I sketched it out a little bit too large. I apologize that my hair and forehead are appearing in these videos. I lean pretty close to my page when I'm working on a painting. I want to be able to see very clearly. Here, the spur, I used some yellow, a bit of green, and a bit of orange. There's really a lot of colors in that. Now I'm just going to add some more definition now that all the parts in the center are dry, I'm adding a little bit of darker color to the stamens. I'm getting a bit of more paint on my palate now, some blue and some green, ultramarine and Russian green. Because I'm going to need those colors. But now I'm just going to soften everything on these petals by adding another layer, a thin layer of yellow just to soften all the lines. If I were to paint directly over all those red lines, they would just bleed and blend with everything's. I'm just gently touching up the top of those top petals and painting the entire bottom petals. Giving a little more color and softening all those details that we added. Just so they're not so stark. I'm going to add a little definition to all those fringy, hair-like parts of these bottom petals. Adding a bit of orange just defines those lines. Gives them a little bit extra oomph. So they stand out a bit. This is a very detailed flower. Now I'm going to erase the stem and that sketch from the spur. I don't need it anymore. I'm just going to paint in my stem. I look to the center of the flower and line my stem up with the center. I'm using a slightly wider brush than the one I used for all the details. This I believe is a number 4. The numbers have been worn off my brushes from use. So I'm not a 100 percent sure, but I think that is the size. Just using some of that light green we mixed and adding in a little bit of the dark green, that Russian green as well. I'm going to drop in a tad of blue, that ultramarine to convey the shadow. The shadow of the flower on top the stem. I've switched to my smaller brush now, the number 1. I'm going to use this ultramarine just to create a bit of a sense of a shadow where the petals overlap. Just painting a fine line. Just gives a little bit more definition. I don't want a large shadow because these petals are very close together. They're not casting much of a shadow, but by just painting a fine line, it gives the sense that the flower is three-dimensional. Paying a little more detail, some definition on the ovary that center green part of the flower. Then a little bit more on the stem, and on our fun spur. I painted it a little bit larger than it really is just because it's such a defining characteristic of the nasturtium flower, I want it to be visible. Adding in some orange, just darkening up that part of the flower. Now I would say that's finished. In the last lesson, I'll tell you about your project and give you a few tips and pointers for working on your own. 9. On Your Own: I hope that now you're feeling confident and inspired to begin your own botanical watercolor painting. Whether it's an extraction that's inspiring you or some other flower. Share what you create for your class project. I'd love to see what you paint. They say that practice makes perfect and although I don't believe in perfection and I don't strive for it with my paintings, I do believe in practice. The more you paint, the more you practice, the better you'll become. Take things slowly. Take your time and enjoy the process. I'm hoping that you find joy in it. Remember that many mistakes can be easily fixed and even when they can't, there's something to learn from each experience. It's just paper and paint. Move onto the next painting and know with each painting whether it's a success or failure, you're getting closer to being the painter you want to become. Thanks so much for taking my class. Wishing you much joy.