How to Paint a Watercolor Rose


Obviously, this is not a tutorial about how to paint realistic rose. My art tends to be very gestural and loose. This is mostly because with two homeschooled teenagers and a toddler running around I only have small increments of time to work with. It is also because it appeals to me more than highly detailed realistic representations. I love Impressionism and the notion of “seeing” the mind of the artist and how they envision the world. I love abstraction and letting the viewer participate in the meaning of art. That’s just me.

I’ve had a few people ask me to show my process, so I created a time-lapse video to show what the process looks like and you can see it on my Instagram feed at  I thought I could post it here, but that would require a significant upgrade to my account. :-/ You can also see it on my Facebook page here:

Here is step-by-step instruction:

Begin with the center as a sort of small circular shape-your deepest values will go here, but you can drop in extra color at the end (as long as the surface is still wet).


Build petal layers out from the center. Wider petals give the impression of fuller blooms. This part just takes practice. Pull up some pictures of real roses to study. Notice that petals are not all round and when they curl, they make pointed edges. Leave a bit of white space between some of your petals so that your blossom has a few defined leaves.


I just noticed there is a tiny piece of lint in my paint! There’s that NOT perfect part again! Ahh well, if this happens to you just wait until it dries completely and brush it off. I used three different colors for the blooms. I started with a first wash of a blend made with Quinacridone Coral and Quinacridone Gold to make a peach. I added a pure Quinacridone Coral wash, in select places, over the top while the first wash was still wet and then dropped in a tiny bit of Quinacridone Gold to finish it.


Dropping more pigment onto a wash that is still wet is called wet-on-wet painting. This type of painting gives beautiful results if you love color.


The best part is watching the colors play and blend as they settle and change as they dry. It’s always a bit of a surprise to see the final result. Some colors play and blend better than others. Discovering which are your favorites is just a matter of experimenting.


Get out some watercolors and have some fun trying this out. Here is a photo of some of my first flowers I ever painted. You don’t have to have expensive paint–just have fun with what you have. These flowers were painted with a set that my kids used when they were very little.


I have learned a lot about what I like and don’t like in the months between then and now, but art is a process. The key is to ENJOY the process. Hope you have fun creating!

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