In this tutorial I will illustrate how to approach the flower head and bee against a diffused backdrop of foliage using both wet on wet and wet on dry techniques.

You will need

Quinacridone magenta,
Alizarin crimson
Cobalt blue
Winsor blue(green-shade)
Transparent yellow
Raw sienna
Payne's grey

Size 4,6,8 round

Watercolour paper:
A4 - A3 size 140lb NOT (a slight texture)
Masking fluid and twig
B pencil

Reference photograph

Step 1

Sketch the flower head out lightly. To retain the serrated edge of the petals, pre-apply a fine line of masking fluid around the contour and add details to the centre. Dry.
Prepare 5 pools of colour for the background: a yellow green, made up of a mix of Transparent yellow and Cobalt blue, a blue- green mix of the same two colours, Winsor blue added to Raw sienna and a stronger mix with a touch of Alizarin added to it and finally a purple mix of Quinacridone magenta and Cobalt blue.
Wet the paper apart from the bud and flowerhead.
Commence with the purple mix, varying from a pink mauve to a blue mauve.

Step 2

Add the yellow - green mix.

Step 3

Add sweeping brushstrokes of Winsor blue( green shade) with a touch of Raw sienna.

Step 4

Whilst still damp add the deepest shade. Before completely dry sweep a nylon brush through the paint in order to lift out the colour to suggest distant leaves.
Using the point of a size 6 brush add colour wet on dry to the centre with both a pink-mauve and blue-mauve. Leave touches of white paper.
The masking fluid line around the edge can be either left to form a band of white around the flower or removed at this stage.

Step 5

Commence the flower head.
Work one petal at a time. Prepare two pools of purple. A pink-purple of Quinacridone magenta and cobalt blue and the same two colours but more blue in the mix.
Wet each petal and direct the pink-purple in the direction of its growth, observing the shadowed areas and fluted edges. Add the cool blue-purple whilst still damp.

Step 6

Rewet each petal and apply a stronger mix of the same two colours. Add deeper touches in the centre plus a touch of Alizarin crimson with a little Cobalt blue.
Make a pool of green: Transparent yellow and Cobalt blue. Wet the stems and apply on the right edge followed by the left, leaving a highlight to suggest its form. Add more strength of colour and a touch of mauve in the mix to make a muted shadowed shade towards the top of the stem. Add the bud.

Step 7

Commence the bee.
Make a mix of Raw sienna and Quinacridone magenta to make a warm gold and apply wet on dry to the stripes. Soften the stripe of colour under the wings. Dry.

Step 8

Make a strong pool of a deep pink-purple using Alizarin crimson mixed with Paynes grey.
Apply a touch of the previous gold mix followed by the rich dark shade, cutting in against the stripes and wings.

Step 9

Add the legs and apply soft hints of colour on the wings with a size 4 brush. When dry add fine detailing on the wing.

Student Gallery

Here's some work completed by Julie's students based on this tutorial. 

Send your work to Julie

Have you completed this tutorial? Send Julie a photo or scan of your work and Julie will give her feedback.
Student Submissions
Join my mailing list to get the latest news, events, courses and tutorials
I take your privacy very seriously. By providing your information you agree to the privacy notice and understand that you can unsubscribe at any time.
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram