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The Perfect Petal: 4 Tips for Painting Flower Petals in Acrylics

There is a unique beauty found in flowers that has captured the attention and hearts of artists and great masters for centuries. They hold a power to inspire us with their captivating colors and beautiful array of textures. In fact, they are such a fantastic subject that I highly recommend starting with floral arrangements as a subject if you are a beginner with acrylics. They are easier than portraits to take on, yet equally fulfilling to paint.

Here are some helpful tips for painting flower petals:

Underpainting

Underpainting by Craftsy instructor Micah Ganske

1. Block out in monochrome

The first and most important thing to do before you start drawing your petals is to draw the outline of the flower of composition that you will be working on. In order to prevent unnecessary distractions through color, you will want to block in these shapes with just one color. Preferably a slightly darker color than your background.

Strawberry blossom
Underpainting strawberry blossom

Strawberry Blossom #ICM2014 by Craftsy member Teresa Ramsey

2. Begin with a base

Mix the color of the petals on your palette and, with a big brush, paint the complete shape of each petal with this one color. Doing so will define the specific area of the petals and it will allow you to layer the basic shadows over it once it dries. At this point you want to focus on defining general areas of light and shadow and not worry much over details just yet.

Pink hydrangea

Pink Hydrangea by Craftsy member Doris Joa

3. Pay attention to its surroundings

Take a look at what the petals have around them. Most likely, its leaves or a colorful accent in the center of the flowers. The petals, especially white ones, will pick up reflections of what surrounds them. Meaning that you might be able to see some green shadows on a white strawberry blossom or a pink hydrangea. Picking up on small details like this one will make your petals look more realistic and in tune with their surroundings, as opposed to a composition of stand-alone objects that don’t interact with each other.

Iris Spring Iris Spring by Craftsy member Acrylicguy

4. Refine smaller details towards the end

After laying all of the groundwork to define colors, lights and shadows, it is time to add the final touches. At this point, you can reach for smaller brushes that will allow you to paint in smaller sections. Add things like highlights and paint the small lines and creases of the petal. Also blend in colors where there are transitions of paint within one same petal like in pansies.

Defining a consistent workflow like this, where you break down the painting process into very clear steps, will help you navigate your floral paintings and keep you from feeling overwhelmed when looking at your subject. I hope these tips will help you paint some stunning flowers!

4 Comments

Frances Mittelstet

I think you are mixing up watercolor and acrylic. You would never base coat a white flower with a color darker than your background in watercolor. Just saying!

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Frances Mittelstet

What confused me is it is posted in the watercolor page not the acrylic page. But I should have realized as you put acrylics on the watercolor club frequently. Why, I have no idea as they paint quite differently.

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Rose

WC is painted light to dark
Acrylic is dark to light. Think the artist got a little confused with the tips of painting acrylic

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carolyn

I am confused following the directions because every picture under it is different! The pictures need to follow the directions and keep the pictures the same!

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