Tutorial: How to paint a vintage rose in watercolour

I love all roses, it has to be said. But there’s a special place in my heart for a classic, vintage-style rose. You know the type, with blowsy compressed centrals opening up into faded petals that curl back, releasing a powerful perfume. 

I also love loose floral watercolour painting, so it seemed only right to combine the two! Here’s my beginner-friendly watercolour tutorial for these stunning roses.

how to paint a classic watercolor vintage rose

Painting supplies you’ll need

Rose colours

  • Sap Green
  • Cadmium Yellow
  • Opera Rose
  • Winsor Red Deep

All the watercolour paint I use is Winsor & Newton Professional. You don’t need these exact colours – roses come in any number of beautiful shades!

For my rose, I’m using one of my favourite colour combinations – Opera Rose and Winsor Red Deep. It creates the perfect pinky-red tone.

How to paint a vintage rose in watercolour

  1. Mix up your deepest, thickest colour and load up a fine brush. Choose a central point for your rose and begin making long fine loops, branching out from the centre.
  2. Build this out into a circle, allowing your loops to connect and overlap. Make sure the centre looks dense – fill any gaps and add a second layer if needed.
  3. Using a larger brush and a lighter wash, begin adding C-curve strokes around the centre, connecting with its edges to allow the watercolour to blend and bleed.
  4. Keep building the lighter petals out, leaving white space between them but connecting the edges. Wiggle your brush during the stroke for a vintage, blowsy shape.
  5. Use lighter, finer strokes around the edges to create a balanced, rounded shape. 
  6. If needed, grab some more dark colour and add wet-on-wet details in the centre, connecting with the lighter petals so it can bleed.
  7. Finally, add a stem and some leaves. Leave white space as a vein to stop the leaves looking too flat, and allow them to connect to the rose for a natural blend.

Now your rose is finished! You can put these beautiful flowers into a loose floral composition or bouquet, or fill your whole page with rosy goodness with a floral scatter pattern!

And if you’re feeling romantic, here are 3 ways to paint hearts in watercolour!

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