Essential Tips: Beginner's Guide to Painting Florals
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 10 min read


  1. Selecting the right paints
  2. How to choose brushes
  3. Preparing your painting surface
  4. Learning basic floral shapes
  5. How to mix colours for floral painting
  6. Layering techniques for depth and texture
  7. How to paint leaves
  8. Capturing the light
  9. How to add details and accents
  10. Tips for practicing and improving

So, you've decided to take up painting and that's fantastic! Especially if you've set your sights on the vibrant world of floral painting. The thrill of blending colors, the joy of watching a flower come to life on a canvas—it's an experience like no other. But, where do you start? Well, you're in the right place! This guide, packed with actionable floral painting tips, will walk you through everything you need to know to get started. From discussions about paints and brushes to techniques for adding depth and texture, we've got you covered.

Selecting the right paints

The first step in your floral painting journey is selecting the right paints. Here are some tips to help you make the right choice:

  • Acrylic or Oil: If you're a beginner, acrylics are a good choice. They're easy to work with and dry quickly. Oils, on the other hand, require more skill and dry slower, but they offer richer colors and better blending options.
  • Quality matters: While it might be tempting to save a few bucks and go for cheaper paints, remember that poor-quality paints can lead to dull colors and frustrating experiences. Brands like Winsor & Newton and Golden Artist Colors are popular for their quality.
  • Color Selection: To start with, a basic palette of primary colors (red, blue, yellow), along with black and white, should suffice. As you get more comfortable, you can expand your palette with more shades.
  • Understand Paint Properties: Not all paints are the same. Some are opaque, others are transparent. Some are glossy, others are matte. Understanding these properties will help you achieve the effects you want in your floral paintings.

Remember, there's no 'one-size-fits-all' when it comes to paints. What works best for you will depend on your style, your preferences, and the specific floral painting you're working on. So, don't be afraid to experiment and find your perfect fit.

With the right paints in hand, you're one step closer to creating beautiful floral paintings. Stay tuned for more floral painting tips as we move on to choosing brushes, preparing your painting surface, and more.

How to choose brushes

Once you've got your paints sorted out, you're going to need some brushes. But walk into any art supply store and it's easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer variety. So, let's simplify things a bit, shall we?

  • Brush Material: Brushes come in two main types: natural hair and synthetic. Natural hair brushes, often made from sable or hog hair, hold paint well and are great for detailed work. Synthetic brushes, made of nylon or polyester, are more durable and easier to clean. Experiment with both types to see what suits your style.
  • Brush Shape: Brushes come in many shapes: round, flat, filbert, fan, and more. For beginners, a round brush for detailed work and a flat brush for broader strokes is a good starting point.
  • Brush Size: Brushes are numbered, usually from 0000 (very small) to 20 (very large). A range of sizes will be useful, but sizes 2, 6, and 10 are generally good for starters.
  • Quality: A well-made brush will have bristles that hold together and don't shed. Brands like Da Vinci and Princeton are known for their quality brushes.

Again, there's no definitive 'best' brush. It's all about finding what works for you. And remember, taking proper care of your brushes—cleaning them properly after each use, for example—will extend their life and improve their performance.

With these floral painting tips, you're now two steps closer to your goal. Up next, we'll discuss how to prepare your painting surface. Get ready, because your journey to becoming a floral painting pro is just getting started!

Preparing your painting surface

Alright, you've picked out your paints and brushes. Now, let's talk about where those beautiful florals are going to live — your painting surface. Preparing your surface is an often-overlooked step that can dramatically affect your final outcome.

  • Surface Choice: You can paint on many surfaces, including paper, canvas, wood, or even fabric. For floral painting, watercolor paper or canvas are good choices. If you choose paper, make sure it's heavyweight—140lb or above—to prevent warping.
  • Surface Prep: If you're using canvas, you'll want to prime it with a layer of gesso. This creates a smoother surface and prevents your paint from soaking into the canvas. You don't need to prime watercolor paper, but you might want to stretch it to keep it flat.
  • Setting Up: Once your surface is prepped, set it up at a comfortable height and angle. You might choose to use an easel, or just work flat on a table. Be comfortable—you're going to be here a while!

Proper preparation sets the stage for a successful painting session. With these floral painting tips, you're now well-equipped to start laying down your first strokes of paint. Next, we'll dive into the fun part—learning basic floral shapes!

Learning basic floral shapes

Now that your painting surface is all set up, it's time to get sketching. But before you leap into creating intricate floral paintings, it's important to understand the basic shapes that most flowers are made of.

Think of each flower as a combination of simple shapes. Circles, ovals, heart shapes, and teardrops all come together to create a beautiful bloom. Here's how you can start:

  1. Observe: Look at real flowers or photographs. Notice how the petals form around the center. Is it a circle? An oval? Try to break down the flower into its basic shapes.
  2. Sketch: Start by sketching these basic shapes lightly on your surface. Don't worry about details yet—we're just blocking out the overall form of the flower.
  3. Refine: Once you've got your basic shapes down, you can start to refine them. Add in the curves and points of the petals, the texture of the center, and any other details. Remember, it's still a sketch, so keep it light and loose.

Learning to see and sketch basic floral shapes is a key step in your floral painting journey. Remember, practice makes perfect. The more flowers you sketch, the better you'll get at breaking them down into simple shapes. Keep these floral painting tips in mind as you practice, and soon you'll be painting florals like a pro!

How to mix colours for floral painting

Choosing the right colors can bring your floral paintings to life. Don't be afraid to experiment with different color combinations. Here are some floral painting tips for mixing colors:

  1. Start with the basics: You don't need a rainbow of colors to start painting florals. In fact, you can mix almost any color you need with just the primary colors: red, yellow, and blue. Add white and black to your palette for tints and shades.
  2. Understand color relationships: Colors have relationships with each other. Some colors, when placed side by side, make each other pop. Others, when mixed together, create new colors. Understanding these relationships can help you choose color combinations for your floral paintings.
  3. Try layering: Instead of mixing two colors together on your palette, try layering them on your painting. This can create a more dynamic, vibrant effect.
  4. Keep it natural: Flowers come in all sorts of colors, but not all colors will look natural on every flower. Try to observe real flowers or look at photos to get a sense of what colors to use for your floral paintings.

Mixing colors can seem intimidating at first, but don't worry—you'll get the hang of it with practice. Remember, there's no right or wrong when it comes to art. So feel free to experiment and have fun with your colors. Happy painting!

Layering techniques for depth and texture

Creating depth and texture in your floral paintings can really make them stand out. Layering is one of the key tricks to achieving this. So how exactly do you layer in a floral painting? Here are some tips to guide you:

  1. Start Light, Then Go Dark: It's easier to add depth by starting with lighter colors and gradually adding darker layers. This way, you can build up the color intensity and contrast as you go.
  2. Let Each Layer Dry: Patience is key. To avoid muddying your colors, allow each layer to dry completely before adding the next. This gives your painting a clean, crisp look.
  3. Use Different Brushes: Experiment with different brush sizes and types for each layer. Smaller, detailed brushes can help create texture in the foreground, while larger brushes can smooth out the background.
  4. Add Details Last: Save the smallest details for the final layers. This includes things like the veins on leaves or dewdrops on petals.

Remember, each layer adds a new dimension to your painting, creating a richer, more lifelike image. Don't be afraid to play around and see what works best for you. Above all, enjoy the process, as that's what painting is all about!

How to Paint Leaves

Leaves might seem like a small part of a floral painting, but they can make all the difference. They add a touch of natural beauty and can help balance the bright colors of the flowers. Here's how to paint leaves in a way that complements your floral composition:

  1. Study Real Leaves: Before you even pick up your brush, take a good look at some real leaves. Notice their shape, texture, and color variations. This will give you a better understanding of what you're trying to replicate on canvas.
  2. Start with a Base Color: Choose a base color for your leaf. Greens are obvious, but depending on the lighting and the type of leaf, you might also use yellows, browns, or even reds.
  3. Add the Veins: Once your base color is down, use a finer brush to paint the veins. Typically, these will be a lighter color. Follow the natural pattern of the veins you observed in your study.
  4. Shade and Highlight: Add depth to your leaf by adding darker shades on the edges and lighter shades in the center. This creates a three-dimensional effect.

Painting leaves might seem daunting at first, but with practice, it becomes second nature. Just remember, nature isn't perfect, and neither does your interpretation of it need to be. Happy painting!

Capturing the Light

The beauty of floral painting lies not only in the colors and shapes but also in the lighting. The way light falls on your floral subjects can completely change the mood and feel of your painting. Here's how you can capture the light:

  1. Observe Your Subject: Look at how the light falls on the flowers and leaves. Does it come from one direction or multiple? Is it soft and diffused or sharp and direct? Make mental notes or even sketch out the highlights and shadows.
  2. Use Light and Dark Tones: Use lighter tones to represent areas where the light is hitting and darker tones for the shadows. Remember, it's not always about stark white for highlights and pure black for shadows. You'll often find a range of shades in between.
  3. Consider the Time of Day: The color of light can change throughout the day. Morning light tends to be cooler, while sunset light may have a warm, golden hue. Paint your light accordingly.
  4. Don't Forget Reflections: Light can bounce off petals, leaves, and even water droplets, creating interesting reflections. Don't forget to include these in your painting for a more realistic look.

Remember, it's not about capturing every single light detail — it's about conveying the feeling of light in your painting. So don't stress too much, and enjoy the process of bringing light into your floral painting.

How to Add Details and Accents

When it comes to floral painting, details and accents are the finishing touches that make your artwork pop. It's like adding the icing on a cake. Let's break down some floral painting tips on how to add these elements:

  1. Start with the Bigger Picture: When you're painting, don't get lost in the details too early. Start with broad strokes to establish the overall composition and colors. Then, gradually add in the smaller details.
  2. Add Texture: Consider using a palette knife or a thick-bristled brush to apply paint in a way that creates texture. This can help to make petals look more lifelike, or give a sense of depth to leaves.
  3. Create Contrast: Accents often come in the form of contrast. This could be a bright pop of color against a dull background, or a detailed area surrounded by looser brushwork. Don't be afraid to make bold choices here.
  4. Highlight Key Features: If you're painting a specific type of flower, consider what makes it unique. Does it have a distinctive pattern on its petals? Or maybe an unusually shaped stem? Highlight these features with your details and accents.

Finally, remember that less is often more. It can be tempting to add in every single detail you see, but sometimes, a few well-placed accents can be more effective. Trust your instincts, and don't forget to step back every now and then to see the whole picture.

Tips for Practicing and Improving

Just like any other skill, improving your floral painting abilities requires regular practice and a willingness to learn. You might find these floral painting tips helpful on your journey:

  1. Paint Regularly: Try to paint as often as you can. Even if it's just for a few minutes each day, regular practice can make a big difference. It's like exercising: the more you do it, the stronger you become.
  2. Try Different Techniques: Don't just stick to one way of doing things. Experiment with different brush strokes, color mixing techniques, and styles of painting. You might discover something new that you really enjoy.
  3. Learn from Others: Look at the work of other floral painters, both old masters and contemporary artists. What can you learn from their techniques? Don't be shy about asking for advice or tips, either. Most people are happy to share their knowledge.
  4. Be Patient with Yourself: Remember, it's okay to make mistakes. That's how we learn. Don't beat yourself up if your painting doesn't turn out the way you wanted. Instead, try to see it as a stepping stone towards your next, even better piece.

With patience, practice, and persistence, you'll continue to grow as a floral painter. So grab your brush, get some paint on that canvas, and let's see where this journey takes you!

If you enjoyed our Essential Tips: Beginner's Guide to Painting Florals and want to take your skills to the next level, we highly recommend the workshop 'Improve Your Acrylic Painting Skills' by Rachel Christopoulos. In this workshop, you'll learn valuable techniques to enhance your acrylic painting abilities, helping you create stunning floral masterpieces.