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Watercolor Flowers Tutorial for Absolute Beginners

To begin, you need a special watercolour paper. When it's thick enough, it requires no stretching (300 gsm should do, if you don't exceed A4 size). Block of watercolour paper glued on all four edges is a good thing; paper is stretched and it doesn't warp. You also need several soft, tear-shaped brushes of different sizes; if you don't want to invest in professional artistic brushes right now, get chinese calligraphy brushes instead. Don't borrow from your kid's school equipment! You have to choose paints, as well. They come in pans or in tubes (I like tubes). What else? A drawing board, paper clips or a tape to fasten the paper, a jar of water, pencil, eraser and some paper towels. The last thing you need is a smooth surface to mix paint on. It may be a plastic palette or an old plate.

Flowers are great for a start. They look beautiful and you don't need to bother about perspective. First task is to sketch contours with a pencil. The biggest and most important flower shouldn't be exactly in the center of your canvas; check for it!

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Now comes the most funny part of the job. Choose two, at most three colors of paints and mix each of them with some water on your palette. For this autumn composition burnt umber and violet were chosen, with a small addition of indigo; the last color was used to introduce a bit of blue in upper part of the picture, a suggestion of a sky. With the biggest brush paint quickly all the background, covering it with different combinations of your two (or three) paints. Leave dry only the foreground flowers and leaves. Without waiting too long, prepare a darker combination of same paints and add some leaves and stems in the background with a medium-sized brush. In some places the paint will disperse completely on the wet paper, and in some others contours will stay visible.

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Wait till the picture gets dry and add to your palette colors you need for flowers; in this case it was crimson red, because flowers were pink. Paint foreground flowers, treating each one as one solid. For example these flowers are funnel-shaped, so they should be dark in the middle, light at the edges. To make an area lighter, you can remove some wet paint with a paper towel. Completely dry area can be brightened with an eraser; that's how the diagonal rays in the background were made. Using brown shades, paint the general shape of foreground leaves, too. Let it dry.

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Take some emerald green and mix it with warm colors from your palette, till you get the right shade of green for leaves. Paint the leaves piece by piece, omitting veins. With the smallest brush add details to flowers; stripes on petals, stamens etc. Let it dry once again. To finish, mix a color for shade. Try to do it without any black. A combination of darkest colors used earlier with some blue should do. Paint shades on leaves and petals. To soften the edges of shadow areas, paint over them with clean water. It's ready!

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