• Shayda Campbell

Simple Mixed Media Flowers



Welcome to September! Today we did something different and our video was a LIVE tutorial. We kept our project fun and simple - some classic Shayda content: a mixed media floral. It’s perfect if you are just getting into watercolors and are a little nervous. It can be really scary to put paint to paper, but today we are going to do just that and make a bit of a mess, and then turn that mess into something really pretty! I hope you’ll paint along me!


Be sure to give it a watch:



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I’m working today on a piece of cold press, Strathmore watercolor paper, and have my pointed round sable-hair brush. I already mixed up some colors from my Mungyo 48 pan set, just to save time, and because this project is all about the brushwork and messy painting. Essentially we are going to fill the page with messy watercolor splotches and then we will turn them into beautiful florals using a pen.


I am using a french grey and aqua blue for my leaves,and for the flowers, I'm working with a peachy pink and just a little yellow. Once you have your palette ready, you’re all set to get started. Just practice your brushstrokes and have fun with the painting! They don’t need to be perfect because you will fix it later with the pen. I am pulling the brush towards me, starting with the tip of the brush and dragging the belly of the brush to create the widening middle of the leaf. You can use the tip to add in delicate detail work, adding stems between the leaves.


Tip #1 Just make natural, botanical(ish) shapes. If it doesn’t look like a leaf, that doesn’t matter! It can all be fixed later when we start working in pen. Mine started almost too leaf-like and gradually turn into blobs.


For the flower shapes, I start with one petal at a time, running the brush across the page I just see what shape emerges. The petals are all a little different, a little weird, but will be perfect under the pen. As they begin to dry I add some yellow dotting to the center. I’ve been using wet into wet painting on the leaves to mix the aqua and create some darker and lighter areas. On the petals I let it dry just a little so the yellow wouldn’t blend too much but stay in the center. I’m adding a few smaller peach blobs to turn into buds or angled flowers where you won’t be able to see all the petals.



Tip #2 Leave some negative space. How much of the page you fill is up to you, but leave space in between the petals and the leaves as well. Empty space can help make your composition more dynamic and interesting.


What I’ve got now is a messy floral, with really light colors and very loose shapes. What makes this piece really work is the combination of these loose paints with the strong black lines of the pen. You can use any fine liner or brush pen for this, something like a Pigma micron is really good. I am using an 05 nib to have thicker lines that will stand up to the color of the paint.


Tip #3 Your line drawing doesn't have to line up perfectly with the painted areas, keep it loose! I also like to draw some leaves that don’t line up with any color areas, to help with that whimsical look. In the spirit of the messy painting, remember not to make your leaves to perfect looking - everything should be natural and imperfectly perfect.


This piece isn’t about creating one big painting; it’s about each individual brushstroke and pen stroke, enjoying the process of mixing pretty colors, and all the little things that come together to make something pretty!


I hope you'll find this a great beginner-friendly practice! This piece definitely isn’t about drawing perfectly within the lines and colors. Have fun, get messy, and experiment!


© Shayda Campbell 2020

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