- Arts and Design
Abstract Flower Art
Mixed Media Flower Painting
I really enjoy making these simple abstract flower paintings. This one was created primarily with pen and watercolor pencils. It is such a relaxing activity – each stage is rewarding; I get to splash paint around, doodle, color-in and doodle some more. Come and share the creative process with me as I take you through step-by-step.
Flower Painting: Materials
I don't usually go in for using a ton of supplies in one painting but today I felt like using as many as I could – sometimes it's fun to play and experiment with art materials. The paintings at the bottom of the page were created with just watercolor and pens.
- 9”x12” Strathmore Visual Art Journal (140lb Watercolor)
- Crafters' Workshop Stencils
- Liquitex Acrylic Inks – diluted with water and in spray bottles
- St Petersburg Watercolor Set
- Liquitex gesso – diluted with water
- Sakura Pigma Micron pens
- Kay & Company Designer Paper – Que Sera Sera
- Scraps of sheet music
- Koh-i-Noor Watercolor Pencils
- Twinkling H2Os watercolor paint
- Uniball Signo white pen, broad nib
- Dovecraft Decorative Chalks
I'll tell you why I like each of these products as I go through the various stages of the painting.
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See more of my work at my Etsy shop: Abstractedly Yours
Abstract Flower Background
This first stage is a lot of fun. I used two Crafters' Workshop stencils, a plastic embroidery thingy and a piece of protective plastic film that was stuck to my kid's new laptop keyboard. You can use anything you can find around the house – things like elastic bands, plastic utensils, packaging, combs, scissors and the like.
I laid down the stencils in a pleasing arrangement and squirted them with diluted Liquitex Acrylic Ink. The reason I use acrylic is so that, once dry, the patterns stay where they are – they can't be reactivated by adding water on top. People often wonder if they can use acrylics and watercolor together in the same piece of art... and the answer is a resounding yes! Make sure the acrylic is completely dry before going on with the next step. A heat gun or even a hair-dryer can speed things up.
The Crafter's Workshop stencils I used were similar to these two. I love the Crafter's Workshop range because some of them are downright grungy, and that's a good thing. Preciseness is not a requirement for the kind of art that I do. I prefer the smaller 6"x6" versions as I work mainly in journals.
These Liquitex Inks are really versatile. You can draw with them, paint with them, mix them with other acrylic products or, do what I do and add a few drops to a spray bottle filled with water. I do get a lot of drips and 'happy accidents', but as I said before, perfection is not an option.
Flower Painting Background - Watercolor
The next stage is to mix up three or four washes of watercolor. Choose colors that please - I like greens and yellows but couldn't resist adding a touch of violet. Don't ask me the correct colors... I have no idea! Be careful not to mix secondary colors, i.e. don't put orange next to purple or brown next to green or you will have a horrible dirty, muddy color. If you must have these colors next to each other then let each one dry first.
I have lots of watercolor paint but the one I like to use for this sort of work... I mean 'play'... are an economical set of St Petersburg (Leningrad) White Nights. The hues are as brilliant as any expensive set. Although they appear to be more costly in the US than here in the UK :-(
Lay down the washes over the stencils. You'll see that the acrylic inks remain undisturbed, although the colors will be affected by the layer of watercolor. Don't you love the way they peek through?
Background - Ouch! Too Bright
I love how this turned out once it had dried but it's much too bright for what I have in mind. I make a lot of backgrounds like this, sometimes I have several pieces of watercolor paper around me and work on them just like I described above. Once they are done and dried, I turn them over and do the other sides just the same. These backgrounds can be used for making my own art journals or as individual pieces of art for framing. The various blobs and splodges add to general effect - well, I think they do!
So what am I going to do with this? Well, one way to knock back the brightness is to add a layer of gesso.
Gesso - I Couldn't Create Without It!
Gesso is my go-to art supply. It is used for prepping surfaces ready to take paint, it can be sponged down through stencils to create a resist for watercolors, it can be used to cover up mistakes, or as in this case, it can be used to create a soft, misty effect that allows the background to show through.
I diluted the gesso about 50:50 with water and brushed it over the whole background. Where it looked a little too heavy, I used a paper towel to lift some off while it was still wet. Another technique is to let it dry and then gently rub it with sandpaper in patches for more delicious grunge. Make sure to shake off the dry gesso powder before you paint over it.
Abstract Flowers - Start Your Doodling
I have chosen to use a single word, “Serendipity”, as the focal point of the painting. I love the word serendipity, don't you? It is exactly right for the way I make art. I try not to control things as I love to be surprised by the outcome. I have no real plan before I start making art, other than a general idea that this will be a flower painting.
I used a pencil to outline the word and to make some flower tendrils. The large quarter circle in the top left corner will be a big bright flower. I am thinking that I will use collage for the petals, it will be a nice change to painting them. I cut some petals out of my favorite (only) designer paper pad, K&Company's gorgeous Que Sera Sera, and notice that they have left a really cool 'stencil in the paper. I grab a bottle of green spray ink and whoosh it onto the bottom of the page. Serendipity in action!
Once I am happy with the general design, I go right over it with a black, water-resistant pen and erase any pencil marks that are visible. This is the skeleton of the painting.
Flower Painting - Lettering
I do love to add lettering to my art work. Mainly it is art journaling but sometimes a single word is enough to make a bold statement. I used to be hopeless at lettering until an online lettering class came to the rescue and enabled me to to feel a little more confident.
The pens I use most are Sakura Pigma Microns. I first bought them for creating Zentangles, but now use them for everything. They are water-proof, dry quickly and long-lasting. The nibs stand up to punishment quite well and they come in different colors and gauges.
Go over the letters, adding more lines to each, in a very loose and almost scribbly way. I flare out the bottoms of letters and fatten up other parts. This creates little areas of negative space. In these spaces, I add simple patterns or color them in black, or, indeed leave them 'open' for coloring in later.
I also like to embellish lettering with little dots, squiggles and circles. There are no rules!
Watercolor Pencil Flowers
Now is the time to let the kid in you come out to play. Coloring-in! You could use paint, if you like, and I usually do like, but I recently got a set of Koh-i-noor Mondeluz Aquarell pencils. These are fab - they are meant for children but, really, they are of such good quality that they compete with the most expensive watercolor pencil sets. Watercolor Pencils: Reviews.
Color in the flowers, leave and stems. Use several colors on the leaves to create a lovely effect. With a small brush, activate the pigment with water and see the painting come to life. Another thing you could use for the coloring is marker pens or paint pens, such as Tombow Dual-Tips.
I painted the middle of the large flower with well-diluted Twinking H2Os but any paint or pencil will do the job.
See how that original stenciled background is still showing through the layers?
This is an important stage – go back over the flowers, stems and leaves with your Sakura Pigma Micron. Draw around them loosely and quickly. This gives the painting energy and a certain liveliness. Thankfully the Microns go right over the watercolor pencil, though they wouldn't if the pencil was not 'watered'. Put veins or middles into the leaves. If you have any large gaps in the painting, now would be a good time to get some more doodle flowers in there.
At this point I glue on the collage petals of the big flower and go round them with a cheapie gold metallic marker. Looking at the finished painting, I wished I'd used a charcoal pencil instead :( The lettering needs something... I decide to put some faint shadow behind the letters with a pale gray marker.
Abstract Flower Painting – Final Touches
I take a white pen and make some patterns in the center of the large flower and add highlights to “Serendipity” and to the flower doodles. This really makes the painting begin to sparkle.
The painting needs some kind of border, so I go through some previous work and find an idea... I really love listening to music and drawing circles. The repetitiveness is like a meditation, so out come the Microns and white pen again and I do circles for what seems like hours!
I'm pretty sure it's done now but I want to add some blushes of color. Soft pastels are good for this but I recently bought some decorative chalk on eBay. Never heard of it before but when I saw it, I knew I had to have some – they are not expensive at all. The ones I have are applied with a tweezer-like tool and little cotton balls. The color is ever so subtle but is just what the painting needs.
And it is done.
If you'd like a step-by-step of another abstract flower painting, see: How to Paint a Doodle