Watercolour, Watercolour Tutorials

Paint a Loose Spring Daffodil in Watercolour

I’m writing this blog as the wind howls and the rain pours down outside. The daffodils are out in my garden but this weather is pushing me to paint bright flowers to help me look forward to warmer weather and brighter days.

In this piece we will paint quite loosely and let the paints mingle whilst they are still wet. This takes  a little bravery and means we have to let go of some of the control over the paint. Painting in a loose style is a fine balance of control and chaos. It sounds scary but practice certainly helps you to improve and by allowing the paint and water the freedom to do its thing can lead to some beautiful unplanned effects.  Also using a larger brush helps to create a looser effect, especially in the background.  You can use a smaller brush for the details if you prefer.

So why not pick up your brushes and come and join me in celebrating the glory of spring regardless of the weather outside.

Materials Used

Step 1 – Drawing

Reference Photo - Joe Parsons Paint a Loose Spring Daffodil in Watercolour Tutorial

I used a photograph of the daffodils in my garden which I thought was an interesting image and I ignored everything in the background.

Step 1 Joe Parsons Paint a Loose Spring Daffodil in Watercolour Tutorial

The first step is to draw a simple outline of the daffodil. Keep your drawing light so the lines don’t show through the paint and don’t worry about details. This isn’t a botanical painting we just want to capture the colours and shapes that make up a daffodil.

Step 2 – Background

Step 2 Joe Parsons Paint a Loose Spring Daffodil in Watercolour Tutorial

Using your brush and clean water, wet the background around the drawing and start dropping paint onto the wet paper. Allow the paint to spread across the paper, you can tip and move your paper to encourage this movement.

Pick up your next colour and drop this in, allowing it to run into the previous colour.  Resist the temptation to fiddle too much with your brush just keep dropping paint in and allowing it to move.

If your paper starts to dry before you’ve painted it just add more clean water. Work your way around the flower and stem in this way until you have a lovely loose background.

Step 3 – Paint the flower

Step 3a Joe Parsons Paint a Loose Spring Daffodil in Watercolour Tutorial

Pick up some cadmium yellow and paint around the trumpet of the flower. Then use a clean wet brush to pull some of this yellow further into the petals. You don’t need to paint the whole of the petal just a few areas.  You can see that I left some areas of clean white paper in my petals.

Step 3b Joe Parsons Paint a Loose Spring Daffodil in Watercolour Tutorial

Next, mix some opera pink with yellow to create a beautiful bright orange.  Use this to paint in the ruffled edge of the trumpet. Don’t worry if some of this paint runs into the other colours, this is OK.  Use a wet brush to pull some of this orange edge into the body of the trumpet to soften this edge and give the trumpet some colour.

Allow the paint to dry at this stage and let the wet paint work its magic.

Step 4 – Add Details

Step 4 Joe Parsons Paint a Loose Spring Daffodil in Watercolour Tutorial

Most of the work is now done and we are going to tread carefully so as not to lose that lovely, energetic loose feel.

Mix some opera pink and one of the blues (I used a little of the cobalt teal plus a little indigo) to create a purple which we will use to paint in some shadows.

Go gently at this stage and select the most important shadow areas that will enhance and help to describe the daffodil.  I focussed on the area at the base of the trumpet and the edges of the petals.  Add a little of the shadow into the inside of the trumpet. Next mix a bright green using the yellow and indigo. Use this to paint in the stem.  I added a little green to the centre of the trumpet too.  I then mixed a little more indigo into the green to get a darker green to add a shadow onto the stem.

Step back and decide whether your painting is finished. Err on the side of caution as you don’t want to overwork your piece. If in doubt, stop.

And there you have it, a glorious bright daffodil to keep us going until the weather improves and sunny spring days return.  I would love to see what you create.

Written by

Joe Parsons

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Joe Parsons is a watercolour artist based in the north west of England. She lives at the foot of the Pennines from where she takes much of her inspiration. Although Joe works primarily in watercolour she often incorporates other mediums and new subjects into her work. Joe teaches classes in her local area and details of these can be found on her website along with some other tutorials on her blog.
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