California poppy flowers are super delicate and light up a garden border in summer. They emerge as flower buds with a little cone-shape hat covering them – when they’re ready, you can pick the hat off to reveal the flower.
Supplies you will need
- Watercolour paper
- Watercolour paints
- Brushes, preferably small
- Water jars
- Paper towels or cloth
- Sap Green
- Cadmium Orange
- Cadmium Red
I love a vibrant orange for these, with a touch of red for shadows. You want bold, bright watercolour paints.
Painting a California poppy – step by step
- Start with your top petal. Mix up a mid orange and create an upside-down teardrop shape, with a jagged edge at the bottom and a wide top. Add a small amount of red paint to the bottom tip and allow to blend upwards.
- Create two side petals, one pulling up and one that’s level. Leave white space between the petals, and repeat the process with the red paint in the centre.
- For the bottom petals you want to use ‘foreshortening’ – a perspective trick to make the petals look like they’re coming out of the page towards the viewer. Make them short, flat and darker than the others.
- Add a curved stem, with smaller branches coming off it. Using a small watercolour brush, start to flick outwards to create textured leaves, working from the tip of the stem.
- After a few flicks, stop and pull out two smaller stems in a V shapes. Repeat the same process, adding the flicks onto these stems. When you’re done, add more stems, and more flicks, working backwards along the main branch.
- If you want to add a bud, you simply need a long cone shape with a rounded bottom, sitting on a small green bud. Add a small fern-like leaf and you’re done!
These California poppies are super simple to paint, using some delicate techniques.
If you want a crash course in florals, take my watercolour florals masterclass online course on Skillshare and learn the brushstrokes you need to paint any flower.
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