How to paint loose watercolour bluebells

How to paint loose watercolour bluebells in 5 easy steps

In this simple sketchbook tutorial, we will take a look at mixing our blue and purple hues to capture the iridescent shades to these pretty flowers. We will also be observing the form to the bell shaped petals, and we will want to include their unmistakable up turned tips too in this study. Its a perfect beginner tutorial to get you practicing and observing colour and shape. I have taken some bluebells from my garden, and placed them in a vase of water so they remain fresh and upright.

I worked from real life, however, bluebells are protected in the UK, so I would advise you to take photos of them instead to use as your reference. Alternatively, you can paint along just by looking at the photos I have provided.

The carpet of purple haze these flowers portray are so endearing. There is one question though that many of us come to ask; are they blue or actually purple?

You can read more about my observations in my latest journal entry.

As we paint, it’s handy to have a scrap piece of paper by your side to mix the blue and purple shades and to experiment with my hues at various consistencies. You may like to try this too.

We’re going to use colour layering to build up the tones in our bluebells. Painting in this style is so relaxing, so let’s begin this wonderful process.

What you’ll need:

If you don’t have the equipment and paints I recommend, get creative and try with what you have handy.

I recommend using a scrap piece of paper by your side to mix the blue and purple shades to experiment with your hues.

  • A bluebells photo as your reference.
  • Mop paintbrush – Rosemary & Co Size 10/0
  • Daisy palette (for mixing watery paints)
  • Water bowl
  • Paper towel
  • Watercolour paper or any sketchbook paper/book (preferably cold pressed)
  • Paints (see colour list below). I use Winsor and Newton paints.

Paint colours needed:

  • A blue colour of your choice (I used Windsor cobalt blue)
  • A purple colour (I used cobalt Violet)
  • A  fresh green colour (I used Olive Green)
  • A vibrant yellow (I used Winsor lemon

Step 1: Place your real bluebell (or reference image) as near as you can to your paper. This will help you to get as close up as possible to observe the petal shapes and colour variations.

Step 2: Heavily dilute your blue and violet shade, and gently mix them together on your scrap piece of paper to create a variation of purple hues closest to your bluebell observation. By increasing the violet shade a little more this will have the colour just the right to begin your bluebell painting. Use the wet-in-wet technique until you find the closest match.

Step 3: With your colour ready, it’s time to create the shapes to your individual bluebell heads by using the tip of your brush. Gently outline the petal shapes and merge the colour to create their form. By leaving small white areas to your petals this will enhance the iridescent blue and purple shades further.

Step 4: When you are happy with your placement of bluebell flowers, it’s time to include a stem. This will unite the bluebell flower heads together beautifully. Experiment further by using your scrap piece of paper to create and mix the green and yellow shade by introducing the vibrant Winsor lemon to pure olive green paint together. Using the tip of your brush again, gently paint the stem shape and introduce some of the subtle stamens to the flower centres. It’s a REALLY enjoyable process seeing your bluebell flower come to life!

Step 5: Once dry, return to your dried bluebell flowers and increase the shade and depth to them by mixing a darker shade of purple – or blue?! I’ve used Cobalt Blue and Cobalt Violet colours to darken the shade. You will need to use more blue than purple for this process. Take care to observe the patterns and shading when you apply your mix allowing essential highlights to shine through. Your bluebells will have more 3D depth and definition at the end of this process.

*Tip* When you are using watery washes when you paint you may see ‘water marks’ appear in the wet areas of your painting. These are to be welcomed. They’ll all add to the textural effects of your loose water colour bluebells.

Once you are happy with the final placement of tone and colour, leave your bluebells to dry fully.

I hope this brief sketch book guide has helped inspire you to paint your own bluebells, and given you the confidence to experiment with your purple and blue hues.

If you paint your own bluebells, I would love to see your results, so tag me on Instagram and use the hashtag #jenniferrosegallery so I can see how you got on. You can also find me on Facebook.

Make sure you hear about my latest step by step guides, video mini-classes, and inspiration journal entries – all for free- by signing up to my newsletter.

Happy Painting!


Love Jennifer Rose xx

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