Watercolor Sunflowers | Daniela Mellen | Skillshare

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Watercolor Sunflowers

teacher avatar Daniela Mellen, Artist & Author

Watch this class and thousands more

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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.

      Class Intro


    • 2.

      Class Supplies


    • 3.

      Using the Template


    • 4.

      Lesson 1: Sunflower Center


    • 5.

      Lesson 1: Sunflower Leaves


    • 6.

      Lesson 1: Sunflower Petals


    • 7.

      Lesson 1: Details on the Center


    • 8.

      Lesson 1: Details on the Leaves


    • 9.

      Lesson 1: Details on Petals


    • 10.

      Lesson 2: Journal Sunflower


    • 11.

      Lesson 2: Journal Sunflower Leaves & Center


    • 12.

      Class Wrap Up


    • 13.

      Bonus Class! Sped Up Journal Page


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About This Class

About This Class.

Join me as I show two techniques for creating a vibrant sunflower. The first technique explores layers, using wet-on-wet technique and detail work with wet-on-dry technique. We work on brush control, using a dark, light, and mid color for variation, and add realistic details to capture our image. The second technique works on creating a "journal image" that uses loose strokes, a outlined image, and lots of highlights to give a fresh look to the image. It's a great addition to a journal as it highlights the subject in an inviting manner.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Daniela Mellen

Artist & Author


I'm an artist and author living in coastal Florida and surrounded by plants, animals, marine life, and the warm sun - all things that inspire me.

I am drawn to creating things and love to get lost in projects. Each day is an opportunity to learn something new, build on existing skills, and branch out to new ones. I was formally trained as an educator which is my passion and incorporating art into teaching makes my life complete.

As of March 2023 I have a catalog of classes on Skillshare. You'll see handmade books, memory keeping, watercolor, acrylic paint, unique art supplies, and photography composition. Thanks for joining me and I look forward to seeing your work.

Check out my Patreon Channel or my YouTube Channel for additional class info... See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Class Intro: Hello. I'm Daniella Melon, an artist and author here on skill share. Thanks for joining me for my class. Watercolor sunflowers. In today's class, I'll show you two techniques for sunflower head illustrations. Each technique uses brilliant and vibrant watercolors, but there are subtle differences between the two. The first technique involves building layers, using wet on wet technique and then adding details with wet on dry technique. The second lesson is what I call a journal image, and that's a little more whimsical. The images a little looser, meaning the details are on a much larger scale. We will sketch our image and then outline it in ink. From there, we will add water color, and the contrast between the two will create an interesting effect. We'll start with a class template that you can download and find it in the project section . It's a helpful reference to make a stencil. Sketch your image. Then you'll choose which sunflower you'd like to create. Either the traditional or the journal image. Select your pigments and create your sunflower for your class project. Paint a sunflower and post a photo of your work in the project section of this class. I've included a bonus lesson where I show a journal page from start to finish using the techniques from class. Thank you for joining me. Be sure to follow me here on skill share to get notified of future classes and please consider leaving a review. Let's get started painting. 2. Class Supplies: in today's watercolor sunflower class will need some basic supplies. I'm going to show you two techniques for making sunflowers, but you can make many of them in lots of different colors with lots of variations. You'll need your watercolor brushes. You're watercolor paints, a jug for your water, a light pencil and eraser for one of the techniques will use a permanent marker, waterproof when it's dry, a paper towel. And then I used five by five inch squares of watercolor paper. You can use your journal, or you can use larger sheets of paper and ultra your images you see fit. You also need your class template, which can be downloaded, and we'll talk about that in the next chapter. 3. Using the Template: to use the template for our class. You go to the Project section and Prince doubt, and on a template, there are two images prints out from a standard piece of paper, and you have a couple of ways you can use it. You can either take a pair of scissors and cut out your image and then trace it onto your watercolor paper. Or, if you have a light source, like a window or even a light box, you can just put your template down and put your paper over it and then trace around it as well to get your image. So there are two ways you can use the template. You could also just freehand sketch, uh, your image, if you'd like a swell. 4. Lesson 1: Sunflower Center: to start out our sunflower. I'm gonna paint with center first and then we'll work our way out from the outside in. So I'm gonna take my number four brush. I'm gonna make this sunflower within, or orange pedals and a brown interior similar to this one. Sunflowers come in, lots of varieties. This one I think I'd like to make with the orange pedals instead of the traditional yellow I'll start first. I'll soak the center of my flower and that will make all mix Mike Brown. I want to make it a darker brown. So this is a Van Dyke brown, and I'm gonna mix a little bit of yellow Oakar, Um, another color with a little more yellow Oakar in it, and that just changes it a little bit. And then I'll put a little here of this burnt sienna as well That warms up the color. Also, I want the exterior of the, um center here to be much darker than the interior. So I'm gonna leave a lot of highlight in the center. We'll start with my darker color and I'm just gonna go create the silhouette, the outline of it, because a little square paper. I can just rotate my paper around easier than my brush clean off my brush. Now I'm just gonna drop in some of that warmer color, the warmer brown we made, leaving a center untouched. And if any paint bleeds in there, then that's great. Also, go in there with just a little bit of this blue. Mix it with some of that van dyke brown. Just add a few drops in the exterior. I'll give a nice little contrast, and I'll let this layer dry. 5. Lesson 1: Sunflower Leaves: And now I want to work on the leaves. I want the center of the leaves to be deeper green and the exterior by the edges to be much lighter, almost a yellow. So it makes my color first. Here we have a dark green and I'm gonna mix it with another green, and they will make a much lighter green here. Good. Add just a little bit of red to both of these. This changes the color somewhat. Just a little bit of red here. So now, starting with the leaves, start with a smaller one first. That is just what the area leaving a little space between both leaves and any pedals that come in contact with it will switch to a smaller brush and number one brush. And with my lighter green, I'm just gonna go around the exterior right to the edge of the pencil Mark. It'll take some of the darker green and I'll tell my page what? The colors bleed together a little. I see a little spot here where I covered the pedal. So try and see if I can't remove some of that green. Take a very damp brush. Pull that color just drive that off. I'm gonna go back in. I add my color again. Add my lighter color first, and then I'll have my darker color again. Looks pretty good. Come over here and just outlined my the shadow of the first leaf with a little more that dark green. Then I'll rinse off my brush and I'll do the same thing with the big leaf. Ah, well at first leaving a dry spot between both leaves and then I'm gonna take my lighter color and I'll start on this side, create the exterior. Then when the leaves get to where they touch, I'm gonna try and leave a little space of white in between them. We'll continue with this light green, and then I'm gonna add a little bit of the dark green to the center here and let it bleed through to the lighter green that go back in there and just drop in some darker green and some spots to make it a little more vibrant. I'll do the same thing with the lighter green, and we'll let this layer dry 6. Lesson 1: Sunflower Petals: now the work on the pedals because I want them orange. I'm gonna make various shades of orange. Um well, even start with, like, a yellow as well. So here's just a yellow orange straight from the tube. Now I'm gonna makes a lot more orange in with this last one. Here, make it very vibrant orange. Also, add a little red to that, and then with the middle one, I'm gonna make a mid range orange, so I'll go back and add some more yellow orange to that. Then lastly, we'll add some lemon yellow to our first orange. Here. I'm gonna paint each pedal individually. Um, I'll show you the process on a few, and then I'll speed up. I'm so start with a whole pedal. So I'm gonna paint that with clear water. And I want just a very thin border between each pedal of dry paper. So I'm trying not to let the pedals in fact touch with it with the pigment. So I'm gonna go here with my lightest color color. I'm gonna go around the edge not worrying about coloring the entire pedal, trying to get a lot of variation in color, Little going with my medium color drop in some colors pigment and with my dark color, pull it right in the center just like that. Do that on another whole front pedal, so I do the clear coat. First it's been my light coat. I'll drop in some later pigment, and then I'm just gonna swoop my darker pigment up through the middle. I'll do the remaining full pedals and I'll speed that up and then go on to another layer of pedals. So now I'm going to start with vote layers and the pedals that are in the furthest background here, so I'll start with this one. As you can see, it's only behind two pedals. I'll start with my clear coat again, not touching either pedal. And then, instead of starting with the latest color and we'll start with our medium color here and then I'll swooping with the darker colors again, trying to create those back. Lee backpedals being a little darker just for some more contrast. So this pedal on this side is also the one furthest back over here, so I'll do the same procedure and I'm gonna skip this one. Skip the one next to it and go to this one here. That's in the furthest back. I'm gonna makes a little more of that mid range orange takes him the darker orange. Drop it in. I'm gonna move around here. We've got this little one poking out in the back here, and I think I put a little too much water on that. A good deal of water sitting on that so I'll just absorb some of it with a paper towel, and then I'll come all the way over here to this one. Now I'll go back and work on the next layer again with the clear coat first, and I'm going to start with my mid range in the center. And so from here, you can decide how much of the light of the latest color you would like to use And how much of the three of the colors you'd like to use. I'll go back in with my lighter color here, puts him on the edge. And here I nixed the pedal next to it and it bled. Kind of gave a very pretty watercolor effect, wasn't intended, but I certainly looks nice going with a drier brush. Back with that medium color, drop in some or the medium, and then, with a little bit of that darker color, swoop it down the center, I told my page a little help. The colors bleed together and continue on. I'll speed up this process. So now we have our fresh first layer done on all our pedals. Gonna let this layer dry and then we'll come back and add details. 7. Lesson 1: Details on the Center: So now for the center of the flower, I'm gonna take my dark color here, and I will outline the center, then that same dark color. I'm gonna make little circles. Um, not perfect ones, but just little ones, like little almost see shapes throughout the center of the sunflower. What? Those layers completely dry. 8. Lesson 1: Details on the Leaves: So here we have our flower, um, the first layers or dry all the pedals and leaves and the center here. And what I did was I took my eraser and erased the pencil marks that remained. And so now we have And so now we have the flower. It looks really nice like this, but I think a little detail work can make it even better. So we'll start with the detail work. We'll start with the lady who work on the leaf. The leaves here with my small brush. This is the 5/0 brush. I'm gonna go in with some of this dark green. I gotta work on a little bit of a ning. So just kind of where I think the center of the leaf might start. And I'm just gonna create a little faint mind line. It just creates invading here. Then I'm gonna go in with that same sharp point on my brush and same dark color. Just create a little bit of an outline. I don't want it to be too perfect. So just like that, then I'll do the same thing on the smaller leaf. Create a little bit of aiming there as well 9. Lesson 1: Details on Petals: Now add a little more detail to the pedals. Gonna take a little bit of the red and mix it in with our darkest shade of orange that we used. It makes a little of that orange as well. A very small amount of green. So then I'm gonna take this color, and I'm gonna start with the full pedals first gonna connect them to the center, creating a little bit of an outline and then from the center and just gonna pull in just a few spots and I'll go around and do this to all the pedals that are full. So this is the wet on dry technique, and this is great for detail work. So now that I have all my completed full pedals, so with the exception of this one, I guess I'm gonna go in. Just outline the remaining remaining pedals again with a very sharp brush in a very light hand and before a work on the little detail work from the center of the pedal, I want to make sure I the pedal, is facing the right way. So when the full pedals air looking right at us, the center of the pedal is where we want the little shadow coming from. But when the pent pedals are bent on the sides, we have to make sure we get the center as well to imitate the shape in the flow. - Now , in some of these pedals, particularly the ones that are bent, um, they have a nice color variation. I want toe Echo that. I want to continue with that. So we'll go in there with my lightest color and just create a little bit more shadow on actually, all of the pedals that look like they could use it, but in particular, the ones that are bench or irregular shape. Really enhancing that color changes quite nice. Gives a very nice effect. If you want, you can put a little shadow around your sunflower Here, Um, I'm gonna keep it just like this because I'm gonna scan my image in. And when I scanned it in, I want to turn it into a sticker so I don't want the shadow in this sticker, so I'll just leave it just like this on this helps me get a nice, crisp edge around all these little pedals. So here we have our sunflower 10. Lesson 2: Journal Sunflower: for this, What I call a journal flower. I did the same after the same image from a class template, and I outlined it with pencil and then I went over it with a permanent marker. And it kind of gives you essentially a coloring book image for which you can color It creates a very different look. Um, still a nice look, but with the sharp edges, I think it gives a different characteristic that I'd like to use. And you could do this with any artwork that you use. If you create the border with the marker, that shark border will give you a different effect, and you can really play with it. So it doesn't have to look necessarily like a coloring book. But it certainly does have, um, unusual characteristic about it because we have those sharp images, though I could be a lot more freer with my painting, and that's kind of fun thing to do. And it's really effective for a journal where if I'm writing something besides it, it's still noticeably the image. I want a sunflower. So what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna make this one with yellow petals. Same brown interior and green leaves. I'll mix my colors first, I'll start with my pedals. This time some would take a lot of lemon yellow. And again I'm gonna make three tones that I'm gonna go in here and that I'm gonna go here and mixing a little yellow orange with them. And lastly, I'm gonna add just a little bit of orange here to this dark one and just a little bit to the medium. So I'm going to start with each pedal and my goal with this particular painting is I'm gonna leave a lot of white, um, showing a lot of weight of the paper showing. So start with a wet brush not terribly wet, that I can't control it. And I'm gonna paint inside the pedal, leaving a lot of white. Then I'll go in with my latest color and just add some of that. You can see I left quite a bit of exposed paper, and I'll do the next the same. And this time I'm not gonna clear coat on it. I'm just gonna paint some areas of the color of the pigment, adding the pigment to where I wanted on my pedal. So there we have two pedals again. A lot of white is shown on both. Switch to a smaller brush the number one brush, and I'll go in with my mid range color. And I'm just gonna drop in some pigment on the pedal where I didn't put the clear coat on its already drawing a lot quicker because it absorbed right into the paper. And I have a little more freedom with the pedal that I had to clear coat on to come back and add more pigment. And lastly, I'm just gonna drop in a little this vibrant color closest to the center of a flower. So it's your choice whether you want to use a clear coat for your pedals or you want to just dive right in with your pigment. Just keep in mind that it does dry quicker without the clear coat. - Now speed up the process and continue with all the pedals. - So there we have the pedals that are done 11. Lesson 2: Journal Sunflower Leaves & Center: to work on the leaf will do the same thing. Did he use a bigger brush here and put a clear coat on both leads, leaving a little space between each leaf? Then I'll just mix three colors, and again I'll switch back to my smaller brush. And with my lightest color, I'll go in again, dropping pigment but leaving a lot of white of the paper showing. Then I'll go in with my medium color and some of that. And then finally, I'll just drop in a little bit of darker green for the center of my sunflower. I'll go in there with a light coat of clear water, and then I'm gonna mix to Brown's this time the Van Dyke Brown. And then it all makes a little Van Dyke brown here. But I'm gonna make it much warmer. We'll add some of this burnt sienna and to that van dyke brown. I'm gonna add a little orange that warms it up, but still it maintains how dark it is. I'm gonna start the exterior just dropping in some color again, keeping our paper exposed in a lot of spots, and I'm trying to keep the center even more exposed than the rest of the sunflower. Then I'll go in with that much lighter color. Drop that in, and then to tie the to the center with the warm yellow of the actual sunflower petals, I'm gonna go in with a little yellow Oakar. I'll just drop in a few spots of that while it's still damp. I'm gonna take a very tiny brush. This is the 5/0. Put a little bit of black or even dark brown on it. So mixed the black with a little bit of that brown color we had. And I'm just gonna put a few dots here and there, just right in the center, not trying to create a solid black area trying to imitate the sunflower seeds that are in the center of the sunflower. And there we have our journal, Sunflower 12. Class Wrap Up: So here we have our completed sunflowers. We have the watercolor, one that we made, and here I made it with orange pedals, and we used the wet on wet technique for the pedals, the leaves in the center. And then when everything was dry, we went over it with a wet on dry technique to make the little fine details. Sunflowers lend themselves to beautiful colors, very vibrant, and I had a lot of fun making this with oranges instead of the traditional yellow. Here we have our journal sunflower, and this is sunflower. It's much looser. It's still recognizable as a sunflower, and yet it's still captures what we want from it, using wet on wet techniques in just a little bit of wet on dry. It's a very simple image, and the key to this journal, Sunflower, is that first sketch that you make with markers. The markers create the coloring book image, which define with the images, and then you enhance it with your colors, and your color blends. Hope you'll try your hand at one of these sunflowers, and you can use a variety of colors and post your work in the project section. I'd love to see it. Be sure to follow me here on skill share for some more classes. And, um, please consider leaving a review. Thanks for watching. 13. Bonus Class! Sped Up Journal Page: