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How to Paint Watercolor Still Life

Artists of Any Age Can Make This Cool Art!


What is a Still Life?

A still life painting is a painting of something still (not moving), not a landscape, not a figure - it is one subject in front of the artist that they're painting in that moment in time. Still life drawings are a great way to practice drawing without asking people to stay still, and also lets artists decide on the composition of the painting.


What You'll Need

- Watercolor Paper

- Watercolor Paints

- Water Jar

- Paint brushes: small, medium, and large

- Paper towels


OPTIONAL: Masking tape, for the edges of your watercolor painting.

First, let's use masking tape around the edges of our paper so that way, at the end of our project, we can take the tape off and our art will have a border, like a frame. Beautiful!


Step 1: Make Your Composition

Whenever you're starting to paint a still life, you have to look at your subject and give a lot of thought to the composition of your painting. Composition means deciding on where things go in your artwork, and where they'll be positioned on your paper. In our example, we're going to paint a vase with daffodils. Since this subject is taller than it is wide, we're going to make our papers portrait style (tall, rather than wide).


For our daffodils, first, we're going to with our medium brush. Since the vase is less than half of the total height of the object, we're going to start by painting the outline of the vase a little bit underneath the bottom half of the paper. Start by mixing a transparent grey by using a lot of water on the side of your palette with a little bit of black. Draw the sides of the vase, then draw the top edge and then, the back edge. Now you have the shape of your vase!


Step 2: Paint Your Flowers

Great job! You've started your composition and the vase. Now let's move on to painting the flowers. Let's use the medium brush to get a lot of yellow paint on your brush.


PRO TIP: to get a lot of color on the brush, use a small amount of water and rub it a lot on your palette on the color you want. The less water, the more saturated the color will be. The more water, the more transparent the color will be.


Once you've got your yellow on your palette, start looking at your subject. Draw a circle for the middle of the flower, and start drawing the petals for your flower. You don't need to add detail yet - right now we're just painting where the daffodils are in the composition of this painting. Keep going until you have all your daffodils on your paper.


Step 3: Add Your Stems

As we're letting the flowers dry, let's use our green color and start drawing our stems. Draw all of the stems that you can see where you see them: some go behind other flowers, some stems go behind other stems, but they all end inside the vase. Add yellow on one side of each stem to make it brighter and give it more of a 3D look.


PRO TIP: if you bump colors into each other, it's ok! Just grab your paper towel, fold a tiny corner, and gently dab the color to absorb it and get it out.


Now, let's take a look at the vase. The vase is a little see-through of where you can see the stems inside it. You can take some water and gently continue stems into the vase, but don't forget: only add stems where you see them!

Step 4: Paint the Background

Let's paint the tablecloth! You can paint it whatever color you'd like. If you want to make it realistic like the table you see it on, you can do that, or you can choose any color you want. First, take your small brush and draw a line for the table behind your vase. Then, grab your big brush and paint your whole tablecloth.


Since we see a little bit of table cloth coming through the bottom of the vase, we'll paint it here too. Then, we'll get some grey and go over the rim of our vase behind the stems.


Now, let's make the yellow POP with a bold background! Pick a color for the wall behind the daffodils. Use your big brush to do big areas, and use your smaller brush and be extra careful around your flowers and in between your stems.


Step 5: Add the Details

Now, let's add some details to our daffodils! In your palette, mix some yellow with a tiny bit of orange. This will tint it to be a little darker. Now, let's look at the daffodil petals and see where it's a little darker. Where you see ruffles, make a wiggly circle for the middle. Then, make a wiggly circle inside of it. Add some lines to the petals like outlines, shadows, or folds in the petals. The flower bell in the middle curves and can be tricky, so make sure to keep looking at what you're painting and break it down to simple shapes and lines.


The Final Product!

And Remember... Keep Making Cool Art!

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