Create Moody Florals with Watercolors

Watercolors are a wonderful medium for painting florals and botanicals. Because of their portability, you can easily paint from life, outdoors in nature or in your garden. Their transparency allows you to work in layers, and their fluidity allows you to paint loosely, letting the water work its magic to create unique effects.

But because of the transparent nature of watercolors, you have to paint on white or light-colored paper. Watercolor paints on dark paper just won’t show up.

So what happens if you love painting with watercolors, but you want to create artwork that stands out from the crowd… something with a darker, â€śmoodier” feel to it… something like the beautiful work of the Dutch masters?

The Dutch masters perfected this style with oil paints hundreds of years ago. From Hans Bollongier to Rachel Ruysch to Gaspar Peeter Verbruggen the Younger, they created beautiful floral compositions that were dark, moody, and an unusual departure from the typical light-background work that is so common today.

All-white-everything, light, and brightness has been a trend for a while, but it’s thankfully coming to an end as people rediscover the beauty of maximalism and bold, deep colors… it’s happening in art, and it’s happening in interior design, too.

In fact, just this morning I sat down for breakfast, opened up the latest home décor catalog that I’d received in the mail, and saw this on the very first page:

The second image above was in the same catalog, on the back cover.

Moody florals and botanicals are clearly making a comeback… but how do you get that dark background with watercolors?

You paint it yourself!

This isn’t something that’s normally taught with watercolors, but in her â€śMoody Florals” class (part of our Wildfield Collector’s Pack), botanical artist Annie Mertlich of Wildfield Paper Co. shares just how to do this, plus other techniques and tricks to give your florals an edgy, moody effect.

I had a lot of fun with Annie’s class (painting a black background isn’t something I’ve done before) and I really liked the â€śleathery” effect of the black paint on my paper!

Want to give moody florals a try yourself? Here’s a pro tip from Annie: paint your initial floral wash layer first, then paint the dark or black background. This will help you to maintain your edges as you work on the final details.

Do you want to mix up your botanical work, experiment with florals a bit, or just paint something fun and new while learning from a professional artist? Click the image below to learn more about Annie Mertlich’s moody florals class in the Wildfield Collector’s Pack!

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