TUTORIAL: How to Paint a Rose in Watercolor

My mother’s name is Rosa and for her last birthday, I painted a rose honoring her name. Today, I’m happy to share the steps on how to paint a rose in watercolor.

Step 1 I take many of my reference photos for painting. These photos were taken in Bogotá, Colombia, where roses can be seen growing in many front yards. As you can see, the final rose is a composite of two different photographs, one for the flower itself and one for the leaves.

Rose in Watercolor Reference Photo For Painting

Step 2 Using the photos as a reference I do a line drawing on a regular printing piece of paper. Once I am happy with the drawing, I scan it so that I can use photoshop to rotate it and adjust the image within the format of the watercolor paper I plan to use. Then I print it out.

Line Drawing of Rose for Watercolor Painting

Step 3 I place the printout on the window, put the watercolor paper on it, and trace it by drawing a very light line.

Step 4 To paint a successful watercolor, preparation is crucial. The first thing I do is to mix and prepare enough color on my palette.

In this case, for the flower, I mixed quinacridone rose with a tiny bit of a warm yellow for the petals. For the leaves, I prepared different greens by mixing pthalo blue with a lemon yellow and/or a warm yellow. I touch the green with a little bit of its complementary, red, to tone it down and turn it into a more natural green.

Many times, to relax into painting, I work on two pieces at a time. That way, whatever might not go well with one, I can do better on the other. In the following photo, you can see different versions of the same rose. 

Studio setup of painting a rose in watercolor

Step 5  I apply the first layer working wet-on-wet, which means that first I apply a layer of clean water and when it is still wet, I touch it with the color. The consistency of the paint is diluted, but it is applied more charged with color on the left to begin evoking a sense of volume.

Rose in Watercolor Painting Step 1

Step 6 The first layer of the leaves is applied, also working wet-on-wet.

Rose in Watercolor Painting Step 2

Step 7 I mix the rose color with carmine and a little ultramarine blue to make darker tones. The previous layers are completely dry when I wet the paper with clean water and apply details of shadows to each section of the petals area. The highlights of the rose are left untouched, they show only the first layer of color.

Also, a second layer of green is applied, making sure to suggest the veins by leaving them unpainted. This means that the color of the veins is the green applied on the first layer.

Rose in watercolor Painting Step 3

Step 8 The previous layer has to be bone dry. I work mostly wet-on-wet but section by section adding contrast on the leaves and stem.

Rose in watercolor Painting Step 4

Would you like to paint more flowers in watercolor?

I hope you enjoyed this lesson on how to paint a rose watercolor. If you would like to take a FREE online class on How to Paint a Pansy in Watercolor in Five Easy Steps (Videos Included) click here!

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Leyla Torres is a World Watercolor Month 2019 Artist Ambassador!

Recommended6 recommendationsPublished in Tutorials, World Watercolor Month
  1. Laura Hale 3 years ago

    How lovely! Thank you for sharing.

    • Author
      Leyla Torres 3 years ago

      You are welcome Laura. I’m happy you liked it!

  2. Mary Roff 3 years ago

    Thank you for sharing your process! Beautiful rose and a lovely tribute to your mother!

    • Author
      Leyla Torres 3 years ago

      You are welcome May. I’m happy you liked it!

  3. Karen Fortier 3 years ago

    Lovely rose, thanks for sharing this tutorial!

    • Author
      Leyla Torres 3 years ago

      You are welcome Karen. I’m happy you liked it!

  4. Jean Marmo 3 years ago

    Thank you so much for sharing! Just beautiful!

    • Author
      Leyla Torres 3 years ago

      You are welcome Jean. I’m happy you liked it!

  5. Robert J. Coleman 3 years ago

    Thanks for an excellent tutorial on a difficult subject.

    • Author
      Leyla Torres 3 years ago

      You are welcome, Robert. I’m glad you liked it.

  6. arQiRIeK 3 years ago

    i like fase one most, thats the real thing

    • Author
      Leyla Torres 3 years ago

      Thank you!

  7. June Hadaway 3 years ago

    Beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

    • Author
      Leyla Torres 3 years ago

      You are welcome June. I’m happy you liked it!

  8. Sandra Strait 3 years ago

    Fantastic tutorial, Leyla. I’ll have to give this a try!

  9. Rosie Foshee 2 years ago

    That is a most beautiful rose painting. I have three rosebushes in front of the window in front of me, covered in roses. I am about to start a painting for our granddaughter who is about to get married, and for her wedding shower, I am painting roses & sunflowers. She lives in what use to be, first our barn for our cows, then it was made over and became my craft shop, and now she has turned it into her home where they will live for awhile, and it is decorated with sunflowers on a shower curtain, metal sunflower stakes outside the front door, etc. The painting will be 30″tall and 24″wide, the largest I have ever done. I will still work in small paintings for Doodlewash, and also for designing am into. .

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