In this beginner watercolor painting tutorial, I will show you how to paint this vibrant watercolor sunflower, which is easier than it looks! Thank you very much Sissil for this amazing step-by-step tutorial!
Watercolor supplies used in this tutorial:
Winsor and Newton watercolor paints:
- Cadmium yellow
- Cadmium dark yellow
- Orange Winsor
- Cobalt Blue
- Ultramarine Blue
- Burnt Sienna
- 2 brushes: Round #8 and #2
- Medium cooking salt (optional)
- Watercolor paper Fontaine de Clairefontaine (Fine Grain 300g/m2)
Step 1: Paint the Sunflower Heart
Start by wetting the heart with very, very diluted sienna yellow on wet paper.
Then, you add orange to the lightest part and finish with burnt sienna. You can keep your heart like this because it’s beautiful and flaming.
Personally, I chose to add ultramarine blue; not to give it a lively appearance, but to increase the contrast of the final result which will be composed of a dozen or more lighter colors. The blue mixed with burnt sienna gives it a brown-ish tone.
Then, I had fun using a salting technique to bring out the sunflower seeds. Be careful not to use too much salt as it will go past your desired textured result.
Step 2: Add Petals
If you are feeling confident, you can start painting the petals before the heart is dry, knowing that you really have to be careful not to touch it. Otherwise, wait a few minutes for your heart to dry.
For the petals, use your number 8 brush. This part is not very complicated, you just have to be careful that the petals are not of the same thickness and do not go in the same direction.
You should also avoid painting petals that touch each other so as not to diffuse your color from one to the other. This also allows you to clearly delineate your petals without drawing contours.
For color, you should play with three shades of yellow. I used cadmium yellow, dark cadmium yellow and Winsor orange.
If you don’t have these three colors, it’s not a problem. Take some variation of yellow and use it as a base. Make a mix with a hint of pink or red according to your preferences. Then, a second mix with more pink or red to make a nice orange. Make enough so you don’t have to mix it again later.
Start with light yellow, then add small touches of a darker shade. Try to vary as much as possible by adding dark yellow only at the base of the petal, on one side or even on the whole petal. Your sunflower should be a festival of nuance, not something industrial where all the petals are the same.
Once you’ve finished your first round of petals, add a few with only the tip visible.
Step 2: Add Finer Details
Add a little green for the leaves and stem. I recommend that you make the green yourself using the colors you used previously – so, add a little bit of blue to your yellow until you’ve found your shade. By using colors already present in your watercolor, it will harmonize your whole painting.
You can stop there, your sunflower should already be very cute!
Otherwise, you can give a little life to your flower by adding some shadows and veins to your petals. Use a little bit of cobalt blue or green or both – just make it very very diluted to make your shadows. Then, you’ll use your orange and dark yellow for the veins.
And here is the final result! I hope this tutorial will help you make beautiful watercolor sunflower paintings in the future.