How to Paint a Watercolor Poppy Card

design team - katherine diy painting Jun 17, 2021
How to make a watercolor poppy card

There is something very fitting about using watercolors in summertime - somehow, these two go together so well! Just like you'd move onto lighter garments once that distinctive breeze of summer air hits the town one night, an artist almost instinctively allows their paper do some breathing, too.

Hello everyone! Katherine here and I am excited to bring you another watercolor tutorial. This time I thought I’d show you how to paint a little poppy card. This is my favorite card to create and it’s great when you only have a few short minutes to paint. There is just something amazing about the red poppy flower. 







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Step 1: Prepare the Paper


Begin by cutting a piece of watercolor paper into 3 inch by 6 inch rectangles. Score each rectangle down the middle at the three inch mark. Scoring allows the card to fold perfectly and can be done on either a craft scoring board or with a craft knife. To score with a craft knife, run the blade against a ruler down the three inch line. Press on the knife very lightly so the paper is not cut all the way through. I do not fold the card just yet, I prefer to keep it flat for painting and fold at the end. 



Step 2: Draw a Border


On the right side of the card, draw a border in pencil all the way around. For this card I used a half inch border. 



Step 3: Tape the Card Borders


Tape the border of the card using washi tape. I have found Scotch Expressions brand works best for me, it does not rip the paper and keeps the paint from bleeding underneath. Be sure to press the tape firmly into the paper. I tape the card directly onto the painting surface. 

Step 3: Paint the Background



I begin with the background and use a wet-on-wet technique. To do this the surface of the paper must be wet. Paint the area with clean water, no color. 


Step 4: Add Paint to the Wet Surface



Next add paint to the wet surface. I start at the top by dotting a paintbrush loaded with a yellow ocher paint to the wet paper. I prefer the yellow to be heavier at the top and fade it out by adding more water to the color as I work my way down the paper. I also like it to extend about two-thirds of the way down to keep the color blend from falling in the middle. Sometimes, I add a little metallic gold paint over the ocher to give the painting a shimmer. 



Step 5: Add Second Color to the Wet Background

While the paper is still wet, add indigo blue to the bottom. I keep the blue darkest at the bottom and fade it with water as it meets up with the yellow. If the two colors are not blending well, add dots of clean water over the area with a brush.


Step 6: Bleed the Paint (if needed)


When using the wet-on-wet technique, sometimes the paint and water puddle on the paper. My trick for when this happens is to gently add a clean piece of tissue to the edge of the puddle and let the paint bleed onto the tissue. I do this until the puddle has been absorbed. 

Let the background dry completely before moving onto the next step. I love to see how the paint dries and granulates with the wet-on-wet technique. No two backgrounds are ever the same with this technique and it does not have to be perfect. 

Step 7: Paint the Poppy


Once the background is completely dry, begin to paint the poppy petals. I start with a thin layer of red in a balloon shape. 



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Step 7.1: Create the Petal Shape

Then add more red to the sides to create the petal shape. I also like to add a few thin petals at the bottom. I create a lot of different poppy shapes and really anything will work for this step.    



Step 7.2: Paint the Stem



Next, while the red is still wet, use a small brush and drag a green line down from the red paint to the bottom of the page for the stem. Personally I prefer the paint to bleed together in this step. Then let it dry. 



Step 7.3: Add a Second Layer


Once the first layer of red is completely dry, I add a second layer at the bottom of the flower petals. This gives the poppy a little depth.



Step 7.4: Add Poppy Features to the Flower


While the red paint is still wet I dot a little black paint to the bottom of the petal. This step really makes the flower look like a poppy. I love to watch that paint bleed into the wet red paint. If needed, keep adding black, one dot at a time, until it looks the way you want. I prefer to use a highly granulating black paint for this part such as Daniel Smith’s Lunar Black. 



Step 7.5: Add a Three-dimensional Look


Again while the black paint is still wet, drag a little black down the side of the stem to give it a three-dimensional look. 



Step 8: Remove the Tape



Once the painting is completely dry, it is time to remove the tape. This is the most satisfying part! Pull the tape off very slowly, always pulling away from the painting. The slower the tape is removed the less chance of the paper tearing. 



Step 9: Fold the Card

Carefully fold the card in half where it was scored. Do not run your hand across the paint, some watercolor paints will smear. Instead, turn the card over and press down on the fold from the back side of the card. 


Your card is now ready for that special someone. I usually make several cards at one time, changing colors as I work. This poppy design also makes a beautiful bookmark! 

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. If you use it I’d love to see what you create, feel free to tag me on Instagram @katherine.urban.art. If you're not done with watercolors yet, I have some more tutorials for you. Learn how to paint a Polaroid sunset - it's too fun! 



A little about me. By day I am a high school art teacher and when I am not in school, I am either painting or looking for inspiration to paint! I love plants, nature, and just being outdoors as much as possible. 


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