Watercolor Tutorial Lesson Eight: Floral Wreaths

It's time to combine a few of the techniques I've been teaching you over the last few weeks to create a piece with a Valentine's Day theme. Well, it can be any theme you want really, but since Valentine's Day is coming up, I thought I'd have you create something handmade to give to your partner on that special day. :)

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Step 1: Draw a circle and rough sketch of the flowers.

Draw lightly and loosely. Feel free to trace around a bowl or plate to make a perfect circle. Place a uneven number of flowers on opposing sides. 5 flowers is enough, but you could make the whole wreath flowers if you want!

Step 2: Paint the flowers first.

Remember when I showed you how to paint roses? Choose a color like pink, mauve, maroon, or purple for the flowers to make a nice contrast to the green leaves (which we'll add later). I chose a darker purple for this tutorial, but I actually like the lighter, more transparent colors better. Just experiment like me to find out which colors suit you best.

Step 3: Add a few buds.

To even out the color around the wreath, add a few small buds here and there. Remember to keep it simple. Your brush strokes should be light and easy. Try to paint the buds in two quick movements downward. Leave a white space for a highlight and space them apart unevenly.

Step 4: Lay in the leaves.

Remember when we talked about painting leaves? You may need to practice the different parts of this wreath on a separate sheet of paper while you build the wreath. 

Start with a blue for the bottom leaves, then slowly add more and more green. Keep all the leaves pointing in the same direction to add movement. Vary the size of the leaves and add a stem or a few stems twisting together as you work your way around. 

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Remember that rose leaves have points around the edges. Feel free to add this feature to each leaf with a few simple and small strokes of green.

As you work your way around, adding leaves and details as you go, lighten the green and add more yellow so that each leaf is a slightly different shade of green. This color variation will make it look like the sun is shining on your wreath and illuminating the leaves on top while the ones on the bottom are shadowed.

Here's a tip I always learn the hard way: Don't overdo it! See the wreath I painted in the center versus the ones on either side of it in the photo above? The one in the center is light and airy, not overdone. The other two were practice pieces that I don't like nearly as much. They're too busy!

Try a wreath with only leaves and maybe one with only flowers. As usual, experiment and have fun!

Step 5: Add text.

Add the name of your child and his/her birthdate or the names of you and your significant other to make this a cute Valentine's Day gift. I scanned my wreath and added the name digitally, but I'd encourage you to make it all by hand. Here's my tutorial on hand lettering to help you!

I'm now offering this semi-custom print in my shop! Order the print as a Valentine's Day or Anniversary gift for your spouse, and I'll change the names and date to your own. So cute!