Spring Heart

Create a design with flowers.

Pick a selection of flowers with different shapes and sizes. I have chosen a combination of spring flowers with complementary colours. Refer to the photo for reference or select your own flowers to work from.

You will need

Watercolour paper:

A4 sheet of watercolour paper 140lb NOT

Brushes 4 and 6 round

B pencil

Tracing paper (optional)

Masking tape


Cadmium yellow
Ultramarine blue
Phthalo blue or Winsor blue
Cobalt blue
Quinacridone magenta
Cadmium red

Size 4 and 6 round


Pick a small selection of flowers or use this photograph as your reference.

Step 1

Decide on your layout ( you may wish to design a circular shape) and draw it out on tracing paper. If you decide on a heart shape fold a piece of tracing paper in half and draw in one side of the shape.Then trace the other side.
Transfer to a sheet of watercolour paper. Keep the pencil line light.

Step 2

Using the shape as a guide design a composition which follows the line. As a general rule I would start with the largest flower and leaves which will become the focal point. Consider the balance of colour and shapes and let the stems follow the soft flow of the heart shape tapering off to smaller flowers and leaves.

Periwinkle. Apply yellow in the centre wet on dry.
Prepare a pool of pink-mauve (Quinacridone magenta and Cobalt), and a blue–mauve, the same two colours but more blue in the mix.

With a no.6 brush wet petals individually and apply the pink-mauve starting at the outer edge, drawing it in so it becomes lighter towards the centre.
Whilst still damp apply the deeper blue-mauve shade working from the outer edge inwards.
For more strength add an even stronger mix and lift colour out for lighter areas if necessary.
When dry add a star shape of mauve surrounding the yellow centre and add a stronger vein in the centre of the petals with the no. 4 brush.

Step 3

Grape hyacinth
Paint each bud of the grape hyacinth wet on dry with Cobalt blue. Whilst still damp drop in varying shades from Ultramarine to a purple mix. When dry add a little stronger definition with a stronger mauve to suggest the round form

Step 4

Add a little dilute green (Cadmium yellow and Cobalt blue) to the buds and let the purple shades run into them.
Wet the whole of each bell and apply a pink-mauve followed by a blue-mauve varying intensity to suggest its form.

Step 5

When each bell is dry using a richer shade of mauve apply wet on dry and diffuse to give definition to the petals.

Step 6

Remove strong pencil lines with eraser and apply a yellow – green circle in the centre.
Prepare two mixes, one of Cadmium yellow and the other a mix of Cadmium yellow with Cadmium red to make a warmer golden shade.
Apply wet on dry adding water to the damp paint to vary the tone and even a touch of a yellow-green. Add the Golden yellow near the centre and a touch here and there in the petals.
When dry add detailing with a stronger yellow.

Prepare two pools of green, a yellow – green of Cadmium Yellow and Cobalt blue and a blue-green of Phthalo blue (or Winsor blue) with Cadmium yellow.
Wet leaves and drop in mixes of the two greens. Lift out veins in top leaves with a fine brush.
Add a pink mauve on to the green stem of the grape hyacinth stem and prepare a warm brown for the forsythia stem with a mix of orange ( Cadmium red plus Cadmium yellow) with blue.
Add detailing when dry.

Step 7

Periwinkle leaves. Prepare a pool of soft dilute Cadmium yellow with a touch of Cobalt blue.
Wet leaf and apply to the damp surface varying the tones. Dry

Step 8

Mix a stronger mix of the above and apply wet on dry to create inner pattern.

Step 9

Finally paint an even stronger mix on top of the dry base either side of the central vein.

The finished painting

Add a few touches here and there to balance the overall tone.

Student Gallery

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

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