Practice the tulips before attempting the composition

Tulips are quite an easy flower to paint as the shape is fairly simple they are a great subject for wet-in-wet techniques

tulip practice

Colours: ultramarine blue, quinacrinone rose, sap green, raw sienna

  1. On scrap paper draw the tulips with a soft pencil
  2. Paint the blue tulip using blue + rose. Allow the colours to mix on the paper
  3. Whilst the blue is still damp paint in the stem with raw sienna + sap green. The blue will run down and merge with the green.
  4. The white tulip is not totally white. Add some raw sienna to the mixture of blue + rose to make a very pale blue grey and paint in the shadows on the sides and underneath. Add a touch of yellow to the bottom while paint is still wet. Dry
  5. Paint the large leaf on the right of the white tulip with a mixture of sap green and ultramarine. Allow the colours to mix on the paper the colour should be darker under the flower.
  6. Add the leaves to the left and top of white flower with a mixture of yellow + green + blue so that the flower is almost (but not completely) surrounded by green tones.

Sketch the composition


  1. I have chosen a square format. Try to make some of the leaves and flowers touch the edges of the paper.
  2. Decide where your focal point will be. I have chosen one of the white tulips. I will make the surrounding leaves darker to give a counterchange effect between the darkest dark and the lightest light. Tulip leaves bend over and curl which allows you to make your negative shapes interesting.
  3. Start by painting the blue tulips. Don't paint them all the same colour! Allow ultramarine blue and quinacrinone rose to blend on the paper.
  4. Paint carefully around the white flowers
  5. Paint in the leaves with a mixture of either sap green + sienna or sap green + ultramarine.
  6. If necessary darken the colours around the white focal point.