Loosen Up with Easy Watercolor Flowers

reference photo for watercolor tutorial with pink phlox and white birdhouse

Sponging will help you loosen up while you have fun painting these watercolor flowers – you can paint masses of tiny flowers in minutes. Also learn other easy watercolor techniques – masking, sponging, and three ways to use watercolor pencils with your painting.

Downloads for Easy Watercolor Flowers Tutorial


Suggested Paint Colors

  • Light Blue – Cerulean Blue (PB35) or Cobalt (PB28), and/or a little Phthalo Blue (PB15)
  • Red – Quinacridone Red, Rose, Pink, or Violet (PV19)
  • Yellow – (having a good yellow is key to making nice greens!) PY3 is a common yellow that’s okay. Better yellow pigments are PY97, PY154, PY175, or green gold PY129.
  • Green – mix your blue + yellow or use a tube green
  • Black – tube black or you can mix dark blue + brown
  • White – (optional) Bleed Proof White or Pro White

Steps for Painting Loose Flowers with Birdhouse

Step 1 – Draw or trace the outline onto your watercolor paper using graphite paper.

Step 2 – Masking and Options Without Masking

Paint the butterfly and pole with liquid masking. (Or you could paint around them, leaving them white, or paint them white at the end with opaque white paint.)

Step 3 and 4 of Loosen Up with Easy Watercolor Flowers tutorial

Step 3 – Paint the watercolor sky wet on wet.

Wet the area behind the flowers and birdhouse with clean water.

Mix a puddle of light blue, darker than you think you need as this will dry lighter.

Drop in or paint on the blue. You want it especially darker around the butterfly.

Step 4 – Add the green leaves wet on wet (first layer of color).

Mix a green with blue + yellow.

Wet the area around the flowers with clean water or a light yellow green.

Dot in the green in the wet area and just let it blend. Dry.

Step 5 – Sponge the flowers on dry paper.

Step 5 of Loosen Up with Easy Watercolor Flowers tutorial - sponge on the flowers

(Click here for more on sponging.)

Use a small piece of natural sponge, a stippling brush, or you can even use the end of an old toothbrush to sponge on the flowers. Keep the flowers closes to the sky very light so that they seem farther away. Make the flowers in the middle slightly darker and the closest flowers the darkest.

Watercolor Pencils – you can use watercolor pencils to add color and texture to your flowers by

  • Scraping chunks of color onto a wet area with a razor
  • Coloring the darker areas on wet or dry paper with the end of the pencil
  • Dip the pencil end in water and ‘paint’ with the wet pencil.

Step 6 – Finish Painting the Flower Stems

Mix a darker green and paint some stems and leaves on top of the lighter green wash.

Step 7 – Paint the birdhouse.

Paint the darkest bits – Use black to paint the shadow sides of the roof and hole as shown.

Paint the lighter shadows – Then use watery black or gray to paint the rest.

Scratch in wood lines – You can scratch in lines (to look like wood) in a wet wash with any sharp object, or paint in lines after it is dry. (Click here for more on scratching in lines in wet washes.)

Step 8 – Butterfly and Post

Butterfly - Step 8 from Loosen Up with Easy Watercolor Flowers tutorial

Remove the masking.

Use gray to outline the butterfly wings. While the grey is wet, use a small brush to pull some of the gray from the outline towards the body – you want very fine, light lines.

Use black to paint the tiny butterfly body and two dots – one on each wing.

Use gray to paint a gray shadow on the right side of the post.

Step 9 – Evaluate and tweak your Easy Watercolor Flowers composition

watercolor floral painting for tutorial Loosen up with easy watercolor flowers

Opaque white – Evaluate. You can use opaque white to dab in white on any flowers that look too solid, or to clean up any ragged edges on the bird house or butterfly. Don’t forget to add the tiny antennae.

There are painters who transform the sun into a yellow spot, but there are others who transform a yellow spot into the sun - Pablo Picasso