Daffodils Watercolor Sketch
Watercolor Sketching Tutorial

by Jennifer Branch
YouTube Watercolor Painting Tutorial

Daffodils are one of the great joys of spring and painting them every year makes spring even better. It's finally nice enough to really enjoy painting outside, bright sun lighting your work and the smell of flowers all around you.

I have a lot of daffodils and most of them are very old varieties, from my husband's grandparents or rescued from old homesteads about to be turned into shopping malls. The old varieties smell wonderful, filling the air with the most delicate perfume.

Daffodils are one of the most rewarding plants for gardeners. They only ask that you divide them to make more plants every few years. And deer don't eat them. So I have probably a thousand daffodils in my yard now, which make hundreds of lovely blooms.

I prefer painting them outside, but inside is much easier, since I can paint in many layers and allow for drying time. Still, I love sitting in the middle of my daffodils and painting. Life doesn't get much better.

Take half an hour for yourself and paint some spring flowers today. Remember this spring and the moments you spent immersed in the daffodils.

Daffodils Watercolor Sketch Watercolor Painting tutorial

Sketching Tutorial Level


Skill Building

Everyday Painting


Art Supplies

5" x 8"
Pentalic Aqua Journal

Escoda Full Bellied Round Squirrel, no.14


M. Graham watercolors

Azo Yellow
Cadmium Yellow
Cobalt Teal
Cobalt Violet
Quinacridone Rust

Painting Demonstration 1

Daffodils Watercolor Sketch Watercolor Painting Lesson 1

The key to this sketch the play between transparent, greenish azo yellow and opaque, orangish cadmium yellow. Broadly, the petals are azo yellow, very transparent. The center cone is cadmium yellow and much more opaque in contrast.

Painting Demonstration 2

Daffodils Watercolor Sketch Watercolor Painting Lesson 2

I'm using a very simple palette of 4 colors, azo yellow, cadmium yellow, cobalt violet and cobalt teal, with a dash of quinacridone rust for a very finishing touch.

I'm not using a limited palette for a challenge or anything. Painting outside is enough of a challenge without adding new ones. I'm using a limited palette because bright as the daffodils are, it's a fairly subtle painting.

In the studio, I would paint the pale yellow daffodils in many layers, letting them dry in between each one. Plein aire, that's not really an option.

Painting Demonstration 3

Daffodils Watercolor Sketch Painting Tutorial 3

I do take advantage of a little drying time to start the second facing page in my journal. I'm staying very loose, with no definite focus in this sketch.

Artist Tips

Paint very loosely until the very last details.
Daffodils Watercolor Sketch watercolor painting tutorial by Jennifer Branch

Painting Demonstration 4

Daffodils Watercolor Sketch Painting Tutorial 4

A few more streaks of cobalt teal mixed with azo yellow make that perfect chalky daffodil green.

Painting Demonstration 5

Daffodils Watercolor Sketch Painting Tutorial 5

Working back on the first page, I start adding cobalt violet to the yellows. This gives me a slightly dulled shadow without looking dreary. After all, I need just barely enough contrast to make the brighter areas glow with color.

Painting Demonstration 6

Daffodils Watercolor Sketch Watercolor Painting Tutorial 6

Even though I've only been out here a few minutes, the light's changed. Shadows have fallen across my paper.

It's time to add some darker cobalt violet and cobalt teal mix to make the flowers stand out.

Painting Demonstration 7

Daffodils Watercolor Sketch Watercolor Painting Tutorial 7

Just a tiny bit of blurring at edges and a few details. I don't really want to use opaque white on this since it will deaden the cadmium yellow and azo yellow contrast. So I'm leaving my whites and refining some edges.

Daffodils Watercolor Sketch Watercolor Painting tutorial

Final Watercolor Sketch!

A few touches of quinacridone rust for the stamens and around the painting and I'm done except for splatter paint!

This is just a happy little daffodil sketch. I kept most detail to the 2 flowers facing me and most contrast on the left one only. This keeps the composition light and simple. There's a bit of a Hogarth curve happening as well, which keeps your eye moving.

I hope this inspires you to take a few minutes and paint some spring flowers this year!

Happy Painting! Jennifer Branch

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