Watercolor Hit or Miss Technique for Easy Flowers

If you like to dabble, you can add pizazz to your watercolor flowers with the hit or miss technique. Students had a lot of fun with this easy flower technique, starting with small cards and working up to larger paintings.

Some paint hits wet paper and some hits dry for a pleasing variety of unique effects. The hit or miss technique also creates excellent tree foliage.

(Student Painting Gallery is at the bottom of this tutorial.)

Downloads for Watercolor Hit or Miss Flowers

Suggested Colors

  • Pink – Any red that leans toward pink or purple
  • Purple – Quinacridone Magenta or mix your red with Ultramarine or Phthalo Blue
  • Yellow – Lemon or any light yellow.
  • Greens – tube greens or mix your own (Phthalo Blue + Green Gold)
  • Gray – mix Cobalt or Ultramarine Blue + Burnt Sienna for an easy gray
  • Opaque White – any good opaque white (Bleed Proof White by Dr. Martin is recommended)

Step by Step Watercolor Flowers with the Hit or Miss Method

Step 1 – Draw or trace the outline onto your watercolor paper with graphite paper. Keep the flower outline very light or leave it out, as you can’t predict where wet on wet color will go.

Watercolor painting tutorial hit or miss flowers step 1

Step 2 – Dribble clean water in the flower area, leaving some areas untouched – this is a ‘hit or miss’ watercolor wash.

If you have standing water, you can dab some up with a paper towel.

Step 3 – Mix your watercolor flower colors.

Mix a puddle of each of three colors – pink (or red), magenta (mostly red + blue), and purple (mostly blue + red).

Step 4 – Paint your colors on the damp flower area with a hit or miss wash.

Painting watercolor in a hit or miss wash - watercolor flower tutorial

Paint the colors on with another hit or miss wash. Some of the color will land on wet paper and some will land on dry for unique effects. You want some of the areas to stay dry.

Don’t overwork your colors!

Get it, get out, and leave it alone until it settles and stops spreading.

Step 5 – Tweaking Your Watercolor Hit or Miss Wash

To make your hit or miss watercolor flowers even more eye catching, add more dark values in a few places.

Use a small brush and thicker paint (more paint, less water) to dot in darker bits of your magenta and purple colors.

Working a wet wash in the hit or miss method watercolor flower tutorial

Spattering or Salt for watercolor texture? When the wash begins to dry (the shine goes off the paper), you can add more texture by spattering with clean water (or dotting in with clean water) to create tiny blooms. Or, you can sprinkle with ordinary table salt.

Flower reference photo for watercolor tutorial hit or miss method for flowers by Deb Watson

Step 6 – Paint the table.

Mix a blue gray (Cobalt or Ultramarine Blue + Burnt Sienna makes an easy gray).

Paint the table area with blue gray, going over the vase.


Paint the shadow area to the right with more blue gray and dab up a few bits in the shadow with a paper towel.

Step 7 – Add Green Stems and Leaves to Watercolor Flowers

When the flowers are dry, paint green leaves and stems in and around the flower area. Keep to three to five areas of leaves for the best look.

Step 8 – Paint the vase and stems in the vase.

Mix a blue or gray color for the water and paint the water area inside the vase. Dry well.

Rewet the inside of the vase with clean water.

Paint some green stems wet on wet, letting the edges blur.

After the area dries a bit, add three darker green stems for variety, so you have some light and some dark stems.

Step 9 – Adding yellow.

Use concentrated yellow paint to add a few bits of yellow flowers around the edges of the purple flowers or in any of the spots that were left unpainted.

You can add a touch of yellow to the background by wetting the background and painting on a little bit of yellow. Keep your yellow light and watery.

Step 10 – Opaque white.

Use opaque white to add baby’s breath (tiny white flowers) anywhere you think will look good in the flower mass.

Also use opaque white to add a few highlights to the glass vase on the left side. Put a line of white on some of the top water line.

Flower reference photo for watercolor tutorial hit or miss method for flowers by Deb Watson

Student Paintings from In-person class. Each one is unique and WONDERFUL!

The longer you look at an object, the more abstract it becomes, and ironically, the more real. - Lucian Freud