Tutorial: How to paint a frilly parrot tulip in watercolour

Parrot tulips are such a happy measure of spring! They have frilly, blowsy flowers that scream texture and colour. I love seeing them bobbing up in the garden, calling all the attention.

The good news is that parrot tulips are easy for beginners to paint in watercolour. In this tutorial we’ll break them down into simple shapes and create the frilly flicks with ease – let’s get painting!

how to paint a parrot tulip watercolor

Supplies you will need

  • Watercolour paper
  • Watercolour paints
  • Brushes – I love round brushes
  • Water jars
  • Paper towels or cloth


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

You can use any watercolour paint¬†colours you have for these tulips – they come in a wide range of hues. I’ve chosen to mix a pink and yellow for a peachy colour. The most important thing is to create contrast between your pale petals and darker frills.

Painting a parrot tulip – step by step

  1. Start with your main petals – mix up a watery paint in a pale colour using lots of water. Create a V shape with two petals, curving the tops in and creating a rounded base for your tulip.
  2. While the paint is still wet, load up a small brush with your darker colour and paint frills on the inside edge, letting them blend out naturally. Use a light flicking motion and vary the direction to make it look frilly and natural.
  3. In the gap, you can add a third smaller petal at the back, with frills on the top. Or leave it open if you prefer.
  4. Now your tulips are done, it’s time for the stem. Grab your green paint and create a small bulbous base under your flower, pulling down into a thick stem.¬†
  5. Create the leaves by outlining a long, pointed shape first. Curve the tip back towards the flower to frame it. Fill in your leaf shape with green.
  6. While it’s still wet, add spots of a darker colour such as blue, allowing it to blend out with wet-on-wet effect. Focus on the tips, base and edges for a natural effect.

I love these parrot tulips – paint a selection in different colours for a stunning spring scene!

More spring floral tutorials

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