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How to Draw Flowers... Getting The Flower Shape Right






These lessons are meant to be fun! This isn't a botanical painting course but instead encourages you to represent flowers in whatever way you enjoy. The first lesson assumes you are a beginner. If not, great! The following lessons will go into more detail about such topics as painting petals and leaves, composition and how to use photographs effectively as a flower painting resource.



SKILL: Getting the Flower Shape Right

Although I want to encourage a free expression and interpretation of flower painting, it is never-the-less important to understand a little of a flower's structure. This will help you to avoid basic drawing errors such as placing the flower head awkwardly on the stem so it looks as though it might drop off :-) Once you understand how to draw correctly, you can then choose to ignore the rules if you wish, especially if you want to go for a very abstract representation.

Flower come in all shapes and sizes but the good news is, these can be broken down into a few basic flower shapes. For example, you will know flowers in the following shape categories.

bell, trumpet, tube, star, bowl, saucer


  • In most flowers, the stem attaches itself centrally to the underneath of the flower.

  • The centre of the flower is aligned with the stem.

  • At the end of the stem is the torus to which the top parts of the flower are attached.

  • First is the outer whorl of sepals. These are usually green but are petal-like in some flower species.

  • Then is the corolla the whorl of petals which radiate out in a variety of shapes, depending on the particular flower species.



tulip section




Cross section of a tulip showing attachment of flower parts to a central stem. 



Emerging from the centre of the flower are the stamen and pistils. Each stamen filament topped by an anther where pollen is produced. The sticky tip of the pistil, the stigma, is the receptor of pollen. 





There are, of course plenty of variations on flower structure across the many species but this basic knowledge is simply intended to help you place your flower parts convincingly in your drawings.




  • A flower

  • Drawing or coloured pencils

  • Sheet of cartridge paper or similar


  1. Select a simple shaped flower, such as a tulip and place it in a vase or glass so that you can observe it easily. Move the angle of the vase around until you achieve the most pleasing shapes.

  2. Carefully observe the curve of the stem and draw this in first. If you are completely new to drawing you might want to have a rough sheet of paper to practice your drawing movements. Don't be discouraged; I promise that the more you practice, the easier it becomes.

  3. When you are happy with the shape of your stem, start to observe the head of the flower which is going to be placed so that it sits centrally. Of course, the flower head will probably be at a slight angle. Never-the-less, the stem will point directly to the centre of the flower.

    DEMO: Practicing Drawing Simple Flower Shapes


stem attachment of petals
more petals added flower shape

You can go ahead and erase any dotted guidelines you might have used and even have a go at putting in some colour or shading. I'll be covering these topics in detail in future lessons but there's no reason why you shouldn't practice your observation skills in the meantime.

Have a go at this exercise a few times though. If you move the vase around you will have completely different shapes to play with. Have fun!


 FUN: Creating Flower Shape Pictures


  • Cartridge or watercolour paper

  • colour pencils, crayons or watercolour paints

  • Black card or paper

  • Craft Glue

  • Scissors or craft knife


flower collage


This flower painting activity is leaning towards craft and collage but is good fun and very effective. The end result can make an attractive picture I itself which can be mounted and famed behind glass. Alternatively, you could use this technique to make flower greetings cards.

  1. I used watercolour paper and paints. You can use any other type of colours though; the effects will just vary. First, I mixed several pools of luscious flower colours on my palette.

  2. Then, the fun bit! I randomly painted these colours onto the paper, allowing the paint to flood, run and mix.

  3. Allow to dry.

  4. Turn the paper over and draw some flower shape silhouettes all over the paper. If you want, you can draw one, cut it out and use it as a stencil. If you flip it over you'll have some mirror image shapes too.

  5. Carefully cut the flowers out. You will notice that the painted side of each flower is randomly coloured and no two flowers are the same.

  6.  Arrange them, painted side up, on the black paper or card. When you have a pleasing design, glue them carefully in position and allow to dry.





Selecting A Simple Shaped Favourite Flower to Paint

For those of you who have read my article ' Create Flower Paintings of your Favourite Flowers ' on the homepage you will know that I advocate choosing your own favourite flower to practice and develop your skills. There are several reasons behind my thinking.

  • You will get to know the flower structure really well

  • You will notice a progressive improvement in your work

  • You won't become bored if you are learning to paint your own favourite flower

  • You can build a beautiful visual diary of notes, sketches and photographs about this flower - a lovely keepsake.

It doesn't matter if your attempts aren't perfect. Every so often you will produce a painting you are really happy with. The more you practice, the more often this will happen. Having a visual diary to look back on can be very encouraging too on the days when you think you've created a mess only to find it's actually better than your very first attempts:-)

Try to select a flower that isn't too complex at first. For example, peonies and roses are trickier than daisies and tulips. If your favourite is very intricate, then select a second favourite with a simpler shape to start with.

Keeping a Flower Painting Journal

What I suggest for this part of the course is that you keep a flower painting journal or sketchbook. As it grows, it will make a lovely item in itself but will also help you to see your progress at a glance. Think of it more like a flower diary. Draw in it, or draw on separate paper and stick your pictures in. collect reference photos and include them too. Notes about colours and painting tips can also be added to the pages. eventually you will have a very visually pleasing painting reference book for your own favourite flower.

Choose any size you want; it depends how large you like to draw. A4 - A3 are probably the most practical. Treat yourself to a nice hard backed one and think about what paper you would like. If you are going to do a lot of drawing straight into the book, cartridge paper is probably best. On the other hand, if you are a watercolourist and want to add paintings and watercolour sketches, then there are plenty of sketchbooks filled with different weights of watercolour paper. The important thing is to just do it!



This Flower Painting Course is Copyright

Theresa Evans All Rights Reserved.

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