Floral Watercolour Wreath Tutorial
You know those gorgeous full, fluffy wreaths you see and think THAT is what I want my wreaths to look like, but where do I begin?!
Well I felt the same. I used to get so frustrated trying to thicken up skinny wreaths and add interest without creating a many layered mess! After a couple of years of practice however, I feel like I've got the technique sorted and suddenly these fluffy wreaths are so fun to paint! Big, fluffy botanical wreaths can look daunting at first glance, but once you start to break them down, it's just a matter of layering in stages. Lets start with our elements. Each one plays a role in keeping the wreath full and interesting, and how you layer them up is up to you!
1. Large leaves painted with a pale wash, to start creating layers, and act as a base for more detailed elements. (Top right.) 2. Smaller, darker leaves for contrast and to add texture. (Top left.) 3. Simple florals to add a touch of colour. (Bottom Right.) 4. Tiny buds to add a complimentary colour, and fill out any sparse areas (Bottom middle.)
I didn't include the Cow Parsley seen here (bottom left) so we can just ignore that for this tutorial.
Start by drawing a circle lightly in pencil, and add in some loose leaves in regular intervals around the circle. Vary the amount of leaves in each section so the wreath doesn't look too rigid. I usually make these leaves pale, using plenty of water to weaken the paint. Let this dry before moving on - this is crucial! Being able to layer up greenery and florals is really key here to creating an interesting wreath.
Using darker, smaller leaves, begin to fill in a few of the large gaps. These leaves will draw the eye when complete as they are darkest and densest, so be sure to place them far apart from each other. I try to vary each sprig slightly by adding an extra leaf / stem in a different place, just so things don't end up looking too uniform. You can add the odd little sprig in between each section of dark leaves if you like, to help blend the wreath together.
Add small sections of florals and buds, varying the placement to cover areas that feel empty but making sure they are fairly evenly spread. It is usually easier to paint the flower before adding it's stem, to be sure the florals are exactly where you want them. You can add detail with a dot of darker colour to represent the middle of the flower, and play with adding weaker and stronger paint to some areas. This variation in colour depth will really add interest to the wreath, and your eye will travel across all the areas of colour and appear more detailed.
Finally, add a small smattering of contrasting coloured buds, to help the florals pop.
Use simple single leafed stems to help fill out any areas looking thin, then go away and do something else for five minutes. Looking at your work with fresh eyes is invaluable, and if there are any glaring gaps or areas that need improvement, you'll most likely spot them straight away after a short break. I also find taking a photo useful, as you're looking at the piece from above not an angle, and gaps tend to really stick out from that angle. Et Voila! A gorgeous watercolour wreath, with endless options and possibilities.
For more variation within the wreath, try adding in an extra type of greenery or flower, making sure to keep the placement even and spread out, as with the other layers.
Switching up the colours, types of flower, and greenery will make a massive difference to the style too. Experiment and enjoy the possibilities! I'd love to see your creations, if you try this tutorial tag me on Instagram @georgioudraws and #georgioudrawstutorial
You can also watch this tutorial on InstagramTV as a 4 part real time video, available here. (Mobiles only.) For those not on Instagram, I will be looking to include full video tutorials on my website in the new year!