How to paint helenium flowers

Helenium flowers are so fun and so underrated! I love their flared shape, like a tutu or skirt! They’re very well suited to a loose floral style – here’s my tutorial to create this striking flowers.

watercolour helenium tutorial how to paint

Supplies you’ll need

  • Watercolour paper (ideally 100% cotton)
  • Watercolour paints
  • Brushes (medium and small for details, I’m using size 6 and 2)
  • Water jars with clean water
  • Paper towels or cloth to dry your brushes

Colours for heleniums

You can use any colours for heleniums, but I’m going for a classic red and green combination. As contrasting colours, they make each other pop. You’ll want a lighter green value to avoid clashing with the red.

  • Burnt Umber
  • Sap Green
  • Cadmium Yellow
  • Winsor Red Deep
  • Cadmium Red

How to paint a helenium – step by step

  1. Begin with the domed centre. Mix up a brown colour and use the tip of a small brush to create a semi-circle of dots towards the top of your paper. Make the dots quite dense and allow them to touch each other, but try and keep some white space.
  2. Using the same technique, add a layer of yellow dots underneath. Let them touch the brown in areas and blend together.
  3. Now it’s time for your petals! Mix up a red colour and use your medium brush to pull petals down and away from the centre. The ends of the petals should flare out and have irregular edges.
  4. Keep the petals separate with white space between them, and change up your red colour as you go – use more water to lighten it. 
  5. When you get to the edges, tuck half petals ‘behind’ the flower by starting the stroke from the centre of the previous petal, and then flaring out.
  6. Switch back to a small brush and use a dark red to create contrast at both ends of the petal. Touch the inside edge nearest the flower centre, and darken the flared edges. Allow to blend naturally.
  7. Mix up your green – add plenty of yellow to avoid a harsh contrast with the red. Paint a curved stem coming out from the flower centre, and pull up leaves in a V shape to frame the flower.
  8. Add contrast in your leaves with darker edges or pops of yellow, and leave a clean white highlight in the centre. For a natural look, start the leaves from different places on the stem and curve the tips back into the flower.

I hope you liked this watercolour tutorial! Find more tutorials below or give me some suggestions for what you want to see next!