How to paint loose watercolour daffodils

How to paint loose watercolour daffodils

In this step-by step guide, I’ll show you how to paint two loose watercolour daffodils – One at a side angle to capture the glorious trumpet section to the flower, and the other at a front facing angle to show off the frilly textured centre to the flower. I worked from real life, which you can do too. Alternatively, you may like to use a photo as your reference or you can paint along by just looking at the photos I’ve provided.

You know it’s springtime here in the UK when these vibrant yellow flowers begin to make their appearance. I’ve been getting really inspired by them lately. I just love their frilly centres and trumpet shape forms which are really eye catching.

We’re are going to use washes and colour layering to create a loose watercolour look.

Painting in this style is fast and fun, so grab your paints and brushes and give it a go right now! You may like to paint one for an Easter card or painting all of its own for a family member or friend.

What you’ll need:

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

  • A daffodil flower/s or reference photo as your reference.
  • Mop paintbrush – Rosemary & Co Size 10/0 (a small brush)
  • Daisy palette (for mixing watery paints)
  • Water bowl
  • Paper towel
  • Watercolour paper (I recommend Arches cold pressed paper) or a sketchbook.
  • Paints (see colour list below). I use Winsor and Newton paints.

Paint colours needed:

  • A yellow colour of your choice (I used cadmium yellow and Winsor lemon )
  • A combination of green colours (I used Olive Green & Cobalt turquoise)
  • A pink/red colour (I used Permanent Rose)
  • An earthy brown colour (I used Burnt Umber)
  • Place your daffodil/s flower (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 shapes of colour and tonal variations as you paint

Step 1: Place your Daffodil flower/s (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 shapes of colour and tonal variations as you paint.

Step 2: (Side Flower view) Heavily dilute your yellow colour (here I’ve used winsor lemon), and apply an initial first wash to create a flat view shape of the flower petals that you see. Acknowledge the trumpet shape and how this extends outwardly past your surrounding petals. Take care to leave some areas white which will be the highlights at the end.

Step 3: (Front flower view) Mix and create an orange hue by using some of your permanent rose colour with your cadmium yellow. Using the tip of your brush then create a frilly edged centre. This immediately creates the shape and form to the centre in which we can build on.

*TIP* when you’re using watery washes whilst you paint, you may see ‘watermarks’ appear around the edges of the wet area, where the pigment can’t travel any further. These are to be welcomed. They’ll all add to the textural effects of your loose watercolour daffodil petals.*

Step 4: (Side Flower view) Water down your green paints (e.g. Olive Green and cobalt turquoise) to a watery consistency. Then use your brush to form the stem starting with the olive green to join to the petals. Gently drop in some of your watery turquoise paint into the stem also and watch the green hues mix on the paper. Drop in some of burnt umber at the very top also. You’ll see it then really starts to take shape!

Step 5: (Front flower view) Returning back to my front facing flower, I gently fill in the frilly centre with my vibrant winsor lemon colour and at the same time extend this colour outwardly to create the six petal shapes which surround the centre. By observing my real life daffodil, I can see the shapes and angles to the petals and how they overlap.

*TIP* To create the various shapes, load your brush with clean water and gently drag, or blend the colour outwardly.

Step 6: (Front flower view) Whilst our newly formed petals are drying, it’s time to include a stem to this flower too. Repeating the process as above, apply your watery green paints to create the stem. Observe how the stems are thicker towards the bottom.

Step 7: (Side Flower view) Now our two flowers are both fully dry, it’s time to include some finishing touches. Using a slightly thicker mix of your cadmium yellow colour (a darker shade of yellow) I’m gently applying the shadows to the petals to create a 3D look. I’m allowing the lighter yellow winsor lemon colour to come through underneath to create tonal variation. Using my green and brown colours too, I’m darkening the shade to the stem. Now let this layer completely dry.

Step 8: (Front flower view) Using the orange mix created previously, apply a darker layer to enhance the frilly edge to the centre of your daffodil. With the cadmium yellow (darker yellow shade) create the shading to the petals to create a 3D look to them. Allow your lighter yellow colour to come through to enhance the form. Whilst the flower part is drying, we can return to the stem and build this up again too. Using a watery mix of your green and brown paints, add more pattern and detail to the stem. Using a combination of thicker and more watery paint will help add more depth and create a variety of greenery effects. 

*TIP* If you feel like your paint is too watery, you can use a paper towel to gently lift off any unwanted excess water or pigment.*

Step 11: Once your daffodil flowers have dried, take your time to add in extra layers of textured edges if you’d like. Look really closely at your reference to decide where they should go. You’re repeating the same process as above and you’ll want to use even darker mixes to build up the tones. Where watermarks have formed, try to keep them as part of the painting. They add to the textural effects to my petals and will help bring your daffodils to life.

I hope this step-by-step guide has helped inspire you to paint your own daffodils and given you the confidence to paint texture and colour in watercolour.

Remember to keep your cut daffodils in fresh water and they will last many days, so you will have plenty of time to paint them.

If you paint your own daffodils, I’d 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

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Until next time!

Love Jennifer Rose  xx





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