TUTORIAL: “Painting Pansies In Gouache” by Ayna Paisley

Painting Pansies In Gouache Watercolor by Ayna Paisley

Pansies come in a variety of vibrant colors and thrive in cool climates when planted in rich and damp soil. At times they seem to look like they have “faces” because of their striking contrast of colors. The word “pansy” originated from the French word pensée meaning “thought”, a flower symbolizing “remembrance”.

In this pansy painting tutorial I used a canvas that was primed beforehand with watercolor ground to make it suitable for watercolor painting. You don’t need to use the same, I just picked it for this one as the lovely texture of the canvas was very attractive to me. Most of the techniques I used are wet-on-wet and using watercolor paper works just as well. I’ll list down below the materials I used plus the alternatives.

Before getting into all the details about the pansies, I encourage you to read until the end of this tutorial. I have another one in store for you! You can get my free ladybug tutorial in a step-by-step video with me explaining the whole process.

Materials I used and alternatives that you can use:

  • Gouache paint – I used gouache but you can also use watercolor and just have titanium white gouache on the side.
  • Watercolor paper (unless you really want to try out canvas prepped with watercolor ground).
  • Watercolor brushes – here I used a variety of brushes from the Turner Collection of ZenART Supplies.
  • Colored pencils – I did this as the final step to add extra texture and details, but it’s totally fine if you skip it.
  • Mixing plate – it’s always a good idea to have one ready.
  • A jar or two of clean water – you can use one for rinsing and the other one for diluting your paints. That way you don’t easily muddy your colors.
  • Paper towel, tissue, or any other absorbent material you prefer to use.

Step-by-step instructions

I didn’t use any particular reference photo for this painting, so feel free to just google “pansies” and paint what pops up in your search. As long as you only paint the flower and not copy the exact photo, then you won’t have any problems with copyright concerns.

First Pansy

I started by painting in a petal of vibrant pink, then added dabs of deep blue in the middle. By using the wet-on-wet technique, I allowed the two colors to naturally blend with each other to create a textured purple color. For the bottom petals, I added some white to the purple mixture to create a lighter shade of purple. Don’t overwork this and just allow the pigments to travel along the wet surface naturally, this creates a much more interesting effect. Leave a white spot in the middle by painting around it. Have your tissue ready as well for those parts that you need to lift off.

Then I also added a deeper and warmer purple mixture at the center of the bottom petals. Again allowing the pigment to slowly diffuse and seep into the still wet lighter purple it was added to.

Step 1 Photo Painting Pansies in Gouache Watercolor

Second and Third Pansy

Now I went and worked on the next two pansies. I started off with a paler and cooler yellow, then added purple in the middle and left it at that to give it time to work its magic while I move on to the third pansy. Taking care to leave tiny white dots in the middle, do this for all the pansies – that way you can just fill in the center color later on.

This time I used a warmer and more vibrant yellow and added dabs of the same violet in the middle and at the edges of the two petals. Using the paler yellow mixture from the second pansy, I painted in the top petals then added some of the warm yellow. Then used the same yellow to do some splattering on and around the third pansy.

Going back to the second pansy, I painted in the top two petals using the same purple I used for the center of the flowers.

Step 2 Photo Painting Pansies in Gouache Watercolor

Next Row of Pansies

Moving on to the next row, I started off by painting the leftmost one in light blue, then while it’s still wet, I added dabs of a darker blue at the center. Then painted in the two upper petals.

Step 3 Photo Painting Pansies in Gouache Watercolor

For the next pansy, I painted the top two petals in red, then added a darker color to line the edges of the petals. After I painted in the middle petals a darker golden yellow and the lower ones a bright and warm yellow. Then I also lined the edges using red and added some splatters using the same color.

Step 4 Photo Painting Pansies in Gouache Watercolor

For the last pansy in this row, I started off with a very pale yellowish + pinkish mix, then moved down to the palest lavender, and finally to a pale lavender. Then I added dabs and splatters of a midtoned blue starting from the center and some towards the edges.

Step 5 Photo Painting Pansies in Gouache Watercolor

And finally we’ve come to the last row. With the first pansy’s petals painted mainly in red with dabs of deep purple at the center.

Step 6 Photo Painting Pansies in Gouache Watercolor

The next pansy has a more varied mix of colors. The uppermost petals are painted in a bright yellow with red splatters. I added a yellow green mix at the center. The middle and bottom petals are painted in a yellow-orange mix. Then a deep purple for their center.

Step 7 Photo Painting Pansies in Gouache Watercolor

And finally a deep red for the edges of the petals in the middle.

Step 8 Photo Painting Pansies in Gouache Watercolor

Now I add dabs of yellow to each center of all the flowers except for the red one at the middle.

Step 9 Photo Painting Pansies in Gouache Watercolor

Now it’s time to finish off the last flower for this particular layer. The upper petals are in a midtone purple and the bottom petals in a pale and muted yellow. With dabs of a deeper purple for the purple petals and deep yellow for the yellow ones.

Step 10 Photo Painting Pansies in Gouache Watercolor

The first layer of all the pansies are done. Next up is the second layer for adding additional details, especially the finer detailing.

Second Layer – Adding in the finer details

First Row Of Pansies

I added a deep and dark purple from the center of the two topmost petals of the first and second pansy (a little more red in the dark purple mix of the second one). Then blended out the deep purple center from the dark center to lighter towards the edges.

Next, using a smaller round brush, I painted in vein-like lines on the bottom petals from their center moving out. But not too long, just until the middle of the petal. Then I added two dabs of white around the yellow dot at the center. Then finally I add a brighter yellow to layer on top of the yellow at the center, to give it that pop of color.

For the second pansy, using a very pale yellow mix, I layered it over the first layer of yellow of the lower petals.

Step 11 Photo Painting Pansies in Gouache Watercolor

Then I added streaks of purple to show the veins of the petals. And for the third pansy on this row, I used a very deep and dark red mix (or red-violet) to paint in the vein details. First by using a small round brush and then switching to an even smaller detail brush for the extra fine lines.

And now I move to the next row of pansies.

Step 12 Photo Painting Pansies in Gouache Watercolor

Second Row of Pansies

(From 5 and 6 of the photo above) Starting with the blue pansy, I used white for the lines at the center. To refine the top petals, I added a translucent and really pale blue over the previous layer. Then using the detail brush, I painted in the veins at the center using purple. And a bright yellow dot to enliven the yellow.

For the next flower, I added a warm yellow over the yellow-orange petals. Then used a deep red/red-violet mix to add the vein detailing at the center.

Step 13 Photo Painting Pansies in Gouache Watercolor

And now for the final pansy on this row. I started off with painting the center of the bottom petals a midtone purple, then white encircling the purple centers of both middle and bottom petals. Then using the detail brush, I added finer lines at the center of the flower in dark purple.

Step 14 Photo Painting Pansies in Gouache Watercolor

Last Row of Pansies

(#4 from the photo above) For the red flower, I used white to delineate the edges of the petals that overlap each other. Small thin lines for the bottom petals using the detail brush and a small round brush for the middle petals to create thicker lightened edges, blending them out so it looks more natural. Then I added tiny short yellow streaks where the yellow center is.

(#5 & #6 from the photo above) I added streaks of deep yellow on the middle petals and orange to show the division between the two top petals. Then I added deep purple for the center to darken it further.

And we’ve finally come to the last pansy on the last row! I first added a deep purple to the center of the purple petals, mixed light purple and blended it along the center while fixing the shape of the right purple petal. Then using an ultra pale lavender mix, I layered it over the yellow petals, leaving the yellow at the edges unpainted.

Just a dash of green just above the yellow dot at the center and then adding another layer of yellow to brighten the previous yellow. And finally back to the detail brush for the fine purple lines of the veins.

And the gouache pansies are done! You can stop at this point and they’ll be considered done already. Read on to find out the extra steps I did, you can do it when you try this out or save it for later versions.

Step 15 Photo Painting Pansies in Gouache Watercolor

Extra Steps

Painting the Background

I added this step as it creates more interest in the background, giving the overall composition that extra oomph. It’s a purely experimental but very fun addition.

Using a very pale wash of a warm red, I painted it all over the background with the help of an angled flat brush. Angled flat brushes are great for this as the flat part of the brush covers wide areas fairly quickly while the tip of the angle allows you to get into the nooks and corners of the flowers easily and with great precision.

After covering the background with a watered down red wash, I layered a thicker white wash over it. Then I just went over some sections with white again wherever I think it needs extra attention. To soften the white background against the edges of the flowers, I used a small round brush to just blend them out very subtly here and there. Now, allow it to fully dry or you can use a blow dryer if you want to jump on to the next step quickly.

Again, you can stop here and be done. In my case, I wanted to add extra texture and details so I added another step below.

Step 16 Photo Painting Pansies in Gouache Watercolor

Using Colored Pencils

Using a variety of colored pencil colors – white, blue, deep blue, yellow, and orange – I added extra texture here and there. Some blue over purple petals to deepen the shadows and add extra depth. Use the best color choice for each flower to subtly outline the edges of the flowers, especially the ones that overlap. You can use white or a lighter shade of the color for the darker petals and vice versa. You can totally be experimental and explore this.

Step 17 Photo Painting Pansies in Gouache Watercolor

Final Touches

I color lifted some paint off the red petal, added extra touch ups of the bright yellow paint on the panises with the yellow centers, and painted over some sections that I felt needed some extra attention. And of course, don’t forget to sign your work – yay!

Step 18 Photo Painting Pansies in Gouache Watercolor

Aren’t pansies just beautiful? There are so many varieties and colors that are just so inspiring to paint. I hope you found this tutorial useful and consider trying it out yourself. You can even start with just one pansy or maybe three of them, enjoy each one and take your time.

I’m proud to be closely associated with and a brand ambassador of ZenART Supplies. In this tutorial I used brushes from their Turner Collection, a 14 pc brush set that contains all the different brushes you’ll ever need for your watercolor painting and other water media applications as well.

Here’s a time lapse video of Painting Pansies In Gouache, so you can fully watch my step-by-step process:

As promised earlier, here’s the Lady Bug Tutorial also done in Gouache.

Ladybug Watercolor Tutorial Image

Click here to watch the Ladybug painting video for the whole process.

Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in Tutorials
2 Comments
  1. Sandra Strait 2 weeks ago

    A wonderful tutorial, Anya! Thank you for showing us how to create these lovely flowers.

  2. joejoejojojo 1 week ago

    What amazing vibrant colours

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