Avoid This Love-Hate Relationship & You’ll Be Fine

Flower paintings that combine interesting color concepts allow the works to stand out!

Flower paintings that combine interesting color concepts, from the simple to the complex, allow the works to stand out!

Vibrant Flower Paintings Are a Complement Away

Do you need to understand physics like a scientist to paint lush, colorful flowers? Do you really want to understand color scientifically? If you are like me, it is a “nope” on both counts! Instead, all you need is to play with color to create something you really enjoy, especially when you make flower paintings.

Color makes your art unique. Line up 10 artists to paint a red rose, each artist portrays it in a different style and with different colors — shaded red, tinted red, purple red or just plain red.

How you use color is completely and always up to you. But there are basic concepts that can help guide us, especially if you are exploring how to paint watercolor flowers and want to avoid muddiness and wasted time.

Here is a “tip sheet” from Soon Warren’s popular resource guide, Painting Vibrant Flowers in Watercolor. It is filled with all the essentials you need to make your next flower paintings a show-worthy success. Enjoy!


Flower Paintings in 1, 2, 3

Complementary colors are vibrant when placed side by side. The muddy color you get when you mix them can be scary, but it is also a richer, more complex "dark" than any you'll find in tube.

Complementary colors are vibrant when placed side by side. The muddy color you get when you mix them can be scary, but it is a richer, more complex “dark” than any you’ll find in a tube.

+The primary colors can be combined to create pyramids of yellowish hue (Aureolin; Cadmium Yellow Deep, Medium and Light; Lemon Yellow; etc.), reddish hue (Permanent Red, Cadmium Red, Indian Red, Carmine, etc.), and bluish hue (Cobalt Blue, French Ultramarine, Prussian Blue, Pthalo Blue, etc.).

+If you mix equal parts of all three primaries, you’ll produce black. But using two at a time, you can create an endless variety of colors.

+The secondary colors — green, orange and violet — are the result of mixing two primary colors. They have less intensity (saturation) than the primaries.

+Tertiary color is produced when three or more different colors are combined.You usually will create these by mixing one primary and one adjacent secondary color.

+You can always tell which colors are complementary because they appear on opposite sides of the color wheel. Orange complements blue, violet complements yellow and red complements green.

+Complementary colors have a love-hate relationship with each other. When they are side by side, they make a brilliant color combination. Mixed together, however, they cancel each other out and make a gray, muted color.


How to Paint Flowers in Watercolor | Painting Flowers | Vibrant Flowers | Color Combinations | Soon Y. Warren | Artists Network

Explore primary, secondary, tertiary, and complementary colors in your upcoming flower paintings. Whew, what a ton of options!


+Using complementary colors will consistently make brilliant, colorful paintings that convey a happy feeling. Don’t be afraid of them.

+Use the muted complementary colors you mix in the background or in less important areas of your flower paintings. It will help more intense, adjacent colors shine.

+Complementary colors also make rich darks and they keep you from resorting to black, a dreaded, dull color!

Experiment and Have Fun

Remember, there are no secret formulas that apply to every situation, so have patience and have fun with color. Experiment, learn and let your personality flow through every stroke you make. Sounds good, right? Well, that is advice straight from Soon Warren, so be sure to check out Painting Vibrant Flowers in Watercolor.

And, if you want to learn even more watercolor techniques from Soon Warren, watch the preview trailer of her video workshop, Vibrant Watercolor Techniques: Painting Flowers, for a sneak peek into her painting process.






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One thought on “Avoid This Love-Hate Relationship & You’ll Be Fine

  1. Red

    I disagree… sometimes very judiciously placed blacks…AND whites…give a painting depth – that you won’t see. I DO agree that tube black is not good to use, you should use a blended black. But that being said – small bits of it in a painting give the viewer a full value range.