Watercolor poppy painting tutorial

When I posted my market sketches the other day I got lots of comments on my poppy sketch.  While I did toss a few poppy prints in my shop, I thought it would be fun to do a little tutorial on how I did them.  I'm sure I am not the first person to come up with painting poppies this way. But, it is original to me and I thought I'd share with you so you can paint your own. Warning, it is addictive.

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For a little more about my supplies, you can check out my watercolor state map tutorial.   This could be done with just about any kind of watercolor paint, paper and a pen.   You don't even really need to tape your paper down. Okay. let's go paint some poppies!

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First, mix up some really wet black paint and create little dips.  I like to hold the paper up when I do this.

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Next, create the flower outline.  I like to work with two different shades of red.  A dark and light.  Don't think too much.  Just take a deep breath and go for it!

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Next, start filling in the petals.  Seriously, don't over think it.  I recommend listening to a podcast, catch up on This American Life, Radio Lab and Planet Money (those are my favorites).  I like to work with both colors, creating highs and lows on the petals. I like to blot up the extra paint with a tissue or cloth.  You can see  where I did it on the first flower in the photo below.

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Add more definition by tracing the edges of the flower with paint.  Then create some leaves and grass using watered down red and black.  Use quick light strokes.

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Then, take the wet paint and create some splatters, if you want.  I love splatters of paint. I think they are good for the soul.

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Next, the fun part.  The details! It is time to add the outlines, petals lines and leaf shapes. I like to use a sharpie or ball point marker.  You can use pretty much any kind of pen, but permanent would be best.  Give the paper a few moments to dry before you start.

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Don't think, just scribble.  Above is my "first pass."  I like to come back over a second time and add more details.  This style works well with imperfection.  Don't feel like you need to perfectly outline your flower.

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After a second pass, I call it finished. If I'm completely honest, I think I like my little market sketch more.  Maybe it was just because I created it on the fly. 


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While the application process of the paint is a little different, the concept works with arylic too!


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So, there you go.  Quick and simple poppies.  Go forth and paint flowers.  Please.  And if you do, I'd love to see them.  This would also be a really fun little summer art project for elementary kids.   Oh summer, I hate it so much.  As a kid I loved it, as an adult I'm counting down the days until cooler temps.  I guess it is a good excuse for staying inside and painting!