Wonderful Watercolor: Learn to Paint a Peony Wreath | Nic Squirrell | Skillshare

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Wonderful Watercolor: Learn to Paint a Peony Wreath

teacher avatar Nic Squirrell, Artist and illustrator

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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.

      Wet in Wet, let the flowers paint themselves


    • 4.

      Second layer, adding more texture


    • 5.

      Adding details wet on dry to form the flowers.


    • 6.

      Adding details to the leaves


    • 7.

      Final thoughts


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About This Class

In this class we will be using watercolour paint to create a beautiful peony wreath.  We will be using a wet in wet technique to encourage the flowers to start painting themselves, then go on to use the paint wet on dry to add detail and bring out the flower forms.  It's a really fun and easy way of painting which I'm sure you'll love.

This class is suitable for all abilities from a complete beginner to a seasoned artist wanting to try something a little different.

You might also enjoy these classes:

iPad Art: Watercolor Painting to Digital Seamless Pattern on your iPad

Travel Sketching: Capture a Favourite Place in Watercolor

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Meet Your Teacher

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Nic Squirrell

Artist and illustrator

Top Teacher


I am an artist and designer of fun things living in Kent, England.

I studied Creative Visual Art and 3D Design at the University of Greenwich and loved every minute of it.

My illustrations are on many products from prints to suitcases and everything in between.

I love drawing and painting on my iPad as well as using traditional media, particularly watercolour.

If anything stays still long enough, I will draw on it.

Quirky animals, dreamy landscapes and watercolor florals are my speciality.

Follow me below to see what else I'm up to!


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Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction: Hello, I'm Nick. I'm an artist and surface patent designer. In this class, we're going to use watercolor paints to create a gorgeous painting with. We'll be using both the wet in wet, and the wet on dry watercolor methods to get a beautiful textured result. It's easy and it's fun, so come and join me and let's get painting. 2. Materials: I want to show you the materials I'll be using. If you don't have the same, it doesn't matter, just improvise with something similar. First of all, nice cup of tea, most important, and don't rinse your brushes in it. Next thing is the paper. Doesn't matter if your paper is textured or smooth, but just make sure it's nice, thick, good quality paper, in that way it won't buckle when you put water on it. We're going to be using quite a lot of water, so that's important. Next thing is my big jar of paint water. If you use a big jar, you're going to be able to keep it going for much longer without it getting dirty because it's so dilute. I've got a piece of absorbent paper to dry my brushes on. The paint I'm using is just a mix of different brands. I've got Schmincke Horadam, I don't know if that's how you pronounce it. I've got Daler-Rowney, and a Winsor-Newton. I'm using Chinese paintbrush. It holds lots of paint or water, and yet it comes to a really nice point. Some brush pens. We also got this water brush pen. You can unscrew the barrel here and fill it with water. It's got a really fine point again, certainly nice to doing detail. Let's go painting. 3. Wet in Wet, let the flowers paint themselves: I'm going to start by wetting the paints I'm going to be using so that they can start to soften. A couple of red so it's beautiful, rose array which is nearly as oranges as it looks there and a couple of the greens as well. Of course, you don't need to use the exact colors that the paints come in. You can mix them up and make your own. I'm going to start with some flower shapes. I just going to do plain water, big circle. Drop some paint in the middle and just let it do its thing. By doing this, we're going to get some quite interesting textures. Let's vary the sizes a bit. I'm just putting these in a rough circle. A couple of smaller ones in up here. Looking for a fairly balanced composition. Just wondering if this one should be a little bit bigger. Then just to even it out a little bit, where should I put one up? Just a smaller one in here. I'm not going to use a hairdryer to dry the watercolors off, which is perfectly good method, but particularly in these flowers, I'm looking for interesting textures. So if we got the hairdryer out, It wouldn't be quite the same. I'm just going to let that all dry naturally. While we're doing that, let's start putting a few leaves in and I'm going to use the same method. Just plain water to paint the leaf shapes and then drop in some paint. I'm going to let it mix itself from the paper. [inaudible] just wait the water to go where I want it to. I think I need some other shaped leaves as well just to make it less boring. Also, I'll pop some, a few little leaves on the inside too. Let's just make some smaller rounded leaves. Of course, you might not want to put anything in the middle, if you're going to put some lettering or something like that there you might not want to fill it up. Some of these paints definitely flow better than others. [inaudible] this green one flows really well. Okay, and I'm just going to leave that now. Minutes will dry, we'll come back and do some more. 4. Second layer, adding more texture: So this is all dry and I'm just having a look at what we've got here and what we can do with it. I'm looking for flower forms. This one's pretty nice. I can see here petal there, petal around there, petal there. Looks like it's facing that way. I like to make the middle layer darker. This one is quite subtle, but I can see how I can make that into a flower. I think I'm going to end up turning this wreath around so that the top is here because that's the way my flower seems to be facing. Again, this one I can make out that it's going to be a flower. I'm going to darken the middles of all of these. This one, not so pleased because some of these are a little boring. So I'm going to add another layer to those. This one, although it's absolutely beautiful in the middle, I need to have some more definition around the outside so that I can see that it's a flower, not just a blob that's spreading out into the page. So that one's actually going to be the trickiest one really because that one will involve trying not to smother this beautiful texture that's there already. I'm going to go in with just plain water again. I'll start with this one because it's the farthest away. I'm going to be quite careful about where I'm putting the water because the paint will only flow where I put the water. I don't want to cover up too much of the interesting bits. I think I might use a light water brush because it's a little bit more smaller so I'll get more detail around the edges. Just be a bit more careful about where I'm putting the water. Soften those edges a little. Then back to the big brush, this one. Anything that isn't all that interesting you can add some water. Let's do this one before we get too much and I want to be working over the top. That's what I'm doing the ones that are a bit further away. Again this one is not that interesting, so we'll give it another go. With this one, I'm thinking I might just put a very light wash over the top of it rather than do the whole water thing because I don't want to mask out that interesting texture. I'm just putting a really thin, very dilute layer here at the top. Then I can say let that flow inwards by just flooding it with water. So that's still going to leave the under-layer showing through. Again, this one not so exciting, so let's give that one another pink treatment. I also think it will be quite nice to have just a couple of smaller, extra ones in as well. Let's let that dry and see what happens. 5. Adding details wet on dry to form the flowers.: This will dry. There's lots of interesting things happening there. Before we go any further, if you're concerned about messing it up, you can go and scan it at this stage which means you've always got something to come back to where it can further. We can also print out a copy and then you can plan what you're going to do next with yours. I've turned mine around by 90 degrees because to me that looks like the top. All the flowers seem to be facing up that way. It's not going to have a good look at what I've got so far. I'm having a look at the petals to see what I can pull out of them. For example this one, it's the middle of the flower. It's got a petal it's curving around here. Some petals curving around here and this is the back of the flower. I have to use some paint to define those shapes, it also look different. You have to work with what you have. Now I'm going to go into my water brush because it's got little tiny point and it's good for detail. I'm going to use the paint fairly dilute. I'm just going to come in and start painting. Give it a bit more direction. With the water brush, the more you paint the more dilute it becomes. It's quite nice. It gives us an automatic shading effect. I'm not too worried about making all of these perfect stripes, I want some individuality and some variation. I want it to look very natural and very organic. I'm going to carry on with the same flower and looking at this petal and then this one. Think about the form of the petal and how it curve around the flower. I'm going to go around to do this with all the flowers, each one's looking different. Some of them I might go in later and just darken the centers of it. I think this one's going to be like that but let's just see how it goes. I'm just putting a few guidelines in as I go. Then this one I think will come around. If something you don't like, you can just go and blot it with a little bit of water. It's the watercolor version of undo. This one I think needs a darker center, so I'm just going to pop that in first. I think I'll come back to that one in a minute. Just let it dry for a while. Because I want to come back to that one I'll leave this one too, otherwise I'm going to smudge it. This smaller ones, maybe a little bit less paint so that this doesn't look quite so thick. Again let's just pluck with it more in the middle. This one I'm just going to do something slightly different with. I'm not really seeing any flaw forms as such in that one, so we'll just give it a little bit of decoration. Let's go on to the next one. This is quite pale so again I'm going to use my paint quite dilute. Let's just see what this is going to look like. I'm just going to take this petal down like this. Some of these are much more obvious when you look at them as flowers and some of them you have to just do a little bit with to give them that form. This one I'm going to put a bit more in the middle there. This one here I want to be really careful with because it's got so many beautiful textures in it. I'm going to just go really pale with my paint with plenty of water. Some of these bits, I almost want to just leave all alone. I'm not going to necessarily cover this one in stripes. I have to give a sense of what's going on. Just a couple more to go. Let's have another look at this one over here because it's pretty dry now. There's couple of bit's where I want to make the centers darker again. This time I'm just going to dub that in and use my solvent paper to get rid of any hard edges and just blend it in a little bit. Don't want to overwork it because part of the attraction of this is just the spontaneity and actually I think I'm happy with it like that. We're going to move on to the leaves. 6. Adding details to the leaves: So to enhance the leaves, I'm going to use these brush pens and they are water-soluble so you can blend them. I'm going with my brush and just dilute some of that. Get some quite interesting effects that way. I'm going to go around, with three different colors. See what looks good. I'm going to use my water brush. Blend some of this in. This bit is really about experimenting and having fun. If you were a little concerned about going straight into your almost finished piece, then just get a pieces per paper and try the brushes out, and see what you can come up with. If you don't have a brush pen like this, you can use pretty much any water-soluble pen. You can also use your brush and the paint like we did with the flowers. With the brush pens, the harder you press the wider the line. I'm just going to add some detail. I'm going to use another of my pens just to add in some little bits and pieces. You can just do with this, with the paint and the paintbrush to draw. Then the other thing, I'm going to just give it a bit with a splash. 7. Final thoughts: So this is the final result. If your paper's buckled, you can lay it face-down on a clean sheet of paper and run a warmer on over the back. I've scanned my name, I've removed the background, and I've adjusted the levels so that it looks the same on the screen as it does in real life. I've also turned it into a pattern and put it on products in my Society6 and Redbubble shops. Your project is to use the methods in this class to paint a floral design. You can do it in your own style, or if you'd like to copy mine, that's fine for your own personal non-commercial use. Please post painting in the project section. Feel free to also post on social media using the hashtag nicsquirrellskillshare. I'm so looking forward to seeing them. I hope you had as much fun with this as I did, and I'll see you soon.