20 watercolour painting ideas for summer

On holiday, or wish you were? Here are some beautiful summer scenes to paint in watercolour to get more sunshine in your life.

1. Beach (of course!)

If you love landscapes, or Barbie, why not paint a sandy beach? Add blue for crashing waves with a dry brush effect, and maybe some colourful umbrellas or an old boat for a focal point.

2. Summer fruits

Paint vibrant summer fruits like watermelon, pineapple or strawberries. You can depict them whole or cut up into a juicy fruit salad.

watercolour sunflower painting with blue background

3. Sunflowers

These bright blooms always shout summer to me! They remind me of childhood holidays in the French countryside – here’s my sunflower painting tutorial.

4. Summer garden

Head outside with your sketchbook and capture the blooms from your flower beds, whether it’s roses, dahlias or hydrangeas for that classic summer style.

5. Ice cream cones

The trick to painting ice cream is to leave lots of white space in a rounded shape. Use different colours for the flavours and why not add little sprinkle details to finish it off.

ice cream cone painting in watercolour tutorial

6. Picnic

Depict a leisurely picnic scene with little sandwiches cut into triangles, strawberries in a bowl and a red and white gingham blanket.

7. Ice lollies

Or popsicles for Americans! Get your juiciest red and yellow paints and build a series of vibrant ice lollies in different flavours and patterns. I love a classic orange ice lolly the most.

8. Seashells

If you’ve got shells or fancy combing the beach, grab some pretty shells and paint their intricate details and delicate colours for a lovely holiday sketchbook scene.

seashell painting with watercolour paints

9. Butterflies

Take inspiration from a summer garden and paint a pretty butterfly – there are so many colours and patterns for their wings, or you can create one from your imagination.

10. Water balloons

Fill up a page with colourful ovals and add little wiggly details at the bottom and you’ve got water balloons!

11. Palm trees

This is a classic summer motif. Arched palm trees can be used to frame a scene or to silhouette against a summer sky.

12. Waves

Why not create the beauty of the sea with a pattern? Use curved lines with lots of water and then drop blue paint in at random points to build a watery effect.

blue waves pattern painted with watercolour

12. Sunsets

Capture the warm and glowing colours of a summer sunset over the horizon. I like to leave the sun as a small white circle and add a silhouette of land and trees in the foreground.

14. Sunglasses

Outline the frames in a fun colour and then add a panel of darker tones for lenses, leaving white space for the reflections.

15. Summer drinks

Paint refreshing drinks like lemonade, iced tea, or cocktails with colourful garnishes. Fruit, stripy straws and tiny umbrellas make fun additions.

16. Seaweed

Having seaweed tangled around my leg is not fun! But painting it is. Start with a green stem, then load up with yellow paint and wiggle some irregular lines off the sides to create the tendrils.

seaweed paniting in watercolour

17. Lavender

A little touch of the French countryside makes the perfect summer watercolour painting! Here’s my lavender painting tutorial.

18. Bumblebees

The droning of bumblebees is the soundtrack to summer, and they can be easy to paint – just use a dry brush and alternating black and yellow stripes.

19. Beach towel

Fill a rectangle with fun stripes or patterns done in a dry brush technique and add some tassels and you’ve got yourself a summer towel.

20. Summer harvest

Paint a bountiful scene of ripe fruits and vegetables from a summer garden or farmer’s market. I love to paint courgettes and tomatoes in the summer.

These summer watercolour painting ideas should help you fill up your sketchbook with warm, joyful paintings dedicated to the best season of the year.

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