• Shayda Campbell

How to Create a Diptych


It is spring and I am ready for more spring florals. This time, I am adding a twist to our watercolor florals by working across two panels to create a diptych. A diptych is any flat artwork that is spread across two panels. The term is steeped in historical significance, but for this piece it just means we are using two panels for our final piece.


I think approaching something from a new direction can really boost creativity - I had a lot of different ideas for how to create this piece, including a landscape, a positive/negative floral, or a continuous piece across two pages. I settled on this flashy, vibrant floral design flowing across the two panels.


Follow along step by step:

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Before I jump into painting on my art boards I need to do a little prep. I started in my sketchbook to work out the color palette and florals I wanted to use. I knew I wanted to use a white flower because they just scream 'Spring' to me, but I wasn't sure which type. I also want to see how the colors work together, practice the florals in different colors and sizes and practice some different leaves.


I started with one panel, although you can do both at once. I tend to paint my largest flowers first and then fill in around them with the smaller botanicals. Since this is a very loose watercolor floral, I didn't work out the design beforehand. Sometimes it is nice to do your prep and then jump right in! If that makes you nervous, you can map it out beforehand, and check out the blog or video on designing a watercolor. Otherwise, keep it loose and free, think about the brushstrokes rather than the form, letting the shapes emerge naturally.


I try not to go back and fix anything - I love the happy little accidents that create an organic floral. This also adds to the watercolor differences in transparency where the paint settles differently and makes the medium so beautiful. Remember to just play, let those brushstrokes sit once you put them on the page, and call it a flower!


One of my favorite ways to paint leaves is to start with half the leaf and then come back with only water on my brush to paint the second half. You can see with the blue leaves it creates a wonderful bleed of color with the wet-into-wet technique.


Don't be afraid to change things up as you go, I decided to change my yellow into the lime green leaves. Yellow felt more like fall while the bright green added to the feeling of new growth and spring. On my right panel I left some negative space in the top right and moving on to my left I am going to leave even more white space. The shape of it still emerges as I paint though. They really work as a cohesive piece although each one can also stand on its own.


Creating a diptych is such a great way to approach the watercolor floral in a new way. It had me thinking differently and creatively. There are so many ways to approach this and have fun with it. I can't wait to hear about and see the different results!

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