How to paint a multi-coloured flower in watercolour

If you’ve ever tried to paint a realistic watercolour of something really colourful like this purple spring Iris, you may have run into trouble straight away.

The more you look at it, the more you realise it’s far from being just a ‘purple Iris’.

Instead it’s made up of LOADS of different shades of purple.

Some lighter, some darker.

Some more blue, some more pink.

And what about the browns, yellows and oranges you can see?

Not to mention the different greens in the leaves and stems.

It can be super confusing and difficult to know how to start.

So here I thought I’d show you my process for making sense of all this and getting your painting on track.

I hope this inspires you to be brave and tackle that most challenging subject you’d love to paint but were intimidated by!

Let me know in the comments.

Happy painting,


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  1. Sally Papin on April 14, 2016 at 2:18 pm

    I love your free pear tutorial and your first Craftsy class. I finally got a pan of watercolors in your pallet, your book and your brushes which has made all the difference in the world.. Looking forward to your next Craftsy class and saving for your on line school. You are so inspiring, I have quite a few things I want to tackle down the road. Cheers!

  2. Beverly on April 14, 2016 at 3:16 pm

    Always just perfect.,

  3. Christine on April 14, 2016 at 5:30 pm

    A pleasure to watch. I learn more and more each time I watch one of your videos.
    Thank you

  4. suzanne on April 14, 2016 at 11:28 pm

    I was able to get the audio , but no video. 🙁

  5. Suzanne on April 14, 2016 at 11:32 pm

    It finally popped up! Thanks…it was great!

  6. Brenda Legendre on April 15, 2016 at 3:53 am

    That was a little fast to watch, however, your paintings are so beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Catherine W. on April 15, 2016 at 5:05 am

    My husband and I are heading to Denver in a couple of weeks. Can’t wait to hear what you discovered to paint!

  8. Marie on April 15, 2016 at 10:15 pm

    Anna I have left the following comments on the Youtube channel in reference to this beautiful painting:
    “I am a subscriber to Anna’s website, which has lots of goodies & hints. Thank you for your beautiful demonstration, I have learnt a lot from your video! Thanks for sharing!”

  9. John jong kyu kim on April 16, 2016 at 12:15 am

    I’m always enjoying , Thank you Anna

  10. Helenanncole on April 16, 2016 at 6:53 pm

    Hi Anna just want to thank you for your wonderful art demos. I’ve just watched your iris video and can’t wait to have a go. I’ve painted three hummingbirds after your demo. In your style bur from photos on the net. My sons had them framed he said they were that good. I didn’t know I had it in me until I followed your fabulous demos. Thank you so much

  11. Margaret Bemrose on March 20, 2018 at 1:30 am

    Hi Anna, love your video, it is very inspiring. Could you please tell me what paper you used and also which brush size were you using. Thank you.

  12. Samy Taylor on July 5, 2021 at 8:39 pm

    I wish we had a little bit more informations on how to choose the colors for the different glazings. Because I don’t know how to recognize by which light color begin for example.
    But thank you for this tutorial.

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