How to paint a textured background in watercolour

Inspired by a visit to sunny Florida, I’ve been painting a gorgeous Phalaenopsis Orchid.

Normally I opt for a white, plain paper, background when painting flowers.

I love how that allows the viewer to focus right in on the subject.

But with a pale orchid like this it can be fun to create some contrast by painting in a darker background with a bit of texture to it.

So in this tip video I thought I’d share with you my method for doing that:

I hope this inspires you to try painting a textured background – it’s lots of fun!

Share this post!

Subscribe to blog updates

Blog Updates


  1. Alice herholtz on February 4, 2016 at 6:22 pm

    Anna, I winter in sunny Florida as well. I’m here until May. Thank you for the free tutorial. Alice

  2. Mojca on February 4, 2016 at 6:22 pm

    Dear Anna, thank you very much! Hope to join your classes (again) soon <3

  3. Scott Camazine on February 4, 2016 at 6:38 pm

    Very nice tip! Thanks so much. Lovely floral.

  4. Vicki on February 4, 2016 at 6:40 pm

    what lb. paper are you using here, and what type of paper? Have fun in the warmth and sun! Hope your weather stays good! I love texture in backgrounds with “fragile focus!”

  5. Malu on February 4, 2016 at 6:42 pm

    Very nice, this background gave dimension at the picture, i love i

  6. glow:) on February 4, 2016 at 7:01 pm

    i am one of those subscribers who cannot afford to pay for art classes. i hear you are one awesome teacher though and since i subscribed i see that:) thanks for helping out one of your audience members who would love to take art classes but has an unfortunate financial situation with a physical health problem. THanks from my heart! i appreciate it so much! and all the best to you.. I LOved the tip you shared here by the way.. i will be back:)

  7. Elaine Lawson on February 4, 2016 at 7:31 pm

    Thank you, Anna; this is something I struggle with after coloring images from artists like Sara Burrier or Maureen Manning; I use lots of their digital stamp images with watercolor or Intense pencils.

  8. Carole on February 4, 2016 at 8:57 pm

    Beautiful, Anna, as always. Love the textured background. Thank you for posting it. Jealous … while I would certainly enjoy the sunshine in sunny Florida, our local Botanical Garden is setting up their annual Orchid Mania exhibit which I will be attending next week. I always take a lot of photos of the stunning orchids to use for greeting cards but now I will be taking some in-depth reference photos to use for a painting as well. Can hardly wait!

  9. Sally Papin on February 4, 2016 at 9:03 pm

    LOVE this. Thanks

  10. Carla on February 4, 2016 at 9:08 pm

    Just finished your Craftsy class with the rose….a lot to learn but happy with the results! Have a wonderful trip! Love your style of watercolor.

  11. Caroline (team Anna Mason Art) on February 4, 2016 at 10:30 pm

    Hi Everyone! I have spoken to some of you before via the contact page. I just wanted to say that Anna does greatly appreciate all of your comments and kind words but as she is currently teaching in the US, and painting and creating new tutorials and emails for you all – sometimes it is a little difficult for her to find time to personally respond to you all. However, that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t care and I will pass on all of your generous comments to her. Anna loves to hear your thoughts and checks up on them whenever she can. We look forward to seeing your art work online! Kindest regards, Caroline

  12. Marlene Jacome on February 4, 2016 at 11:01 pm

    Anna, thank you so much for the tutorial on the background. I definitely will the next time that I need to create the contrast. I appreciate your work, and your tutorials. Thank you.

  13. Newbie on February 5, 2016 at 12:27 am

    Thanks for this tutorial. I live in Cambodia and really struggle to do smooth washes in the heat because I can’t keep up with it so I think textured washes are going to be great for me. I would really appreciate any other tips for painting in the tropics. Love this painting!

  14. Carolyn Stone on February 5, 2016 at 1:16 am

    Anna very beautiful. I love the way you did the background. Happy holiday. We live in Creston BC and head down to Tucson AZ at the end of February – we stay for a whole month……can’t wait

  15. Bettina Gonzalez on February 5, 2016 at 1:17 am

    Hi Ana you are as always amazing!

  16. Judy Giannettino on February 5, 2016 at 2:11 am

    Anna, love the textured background. I never would have tried this in watercolors! Enjoy the warm weather. We’re expecting snow tomorrow and winter is finally showing up in Connecticut.

  17. Suzanne Dodge on February 5, 2016 at 4:06 am

    Well Anna..we’re wintering in Panama this year so..I’m NOT too jealous…lol..thanks soo much for taking the time away from your holiday to post this tip….greatly appreciated…

  18. Marie on February 5, 2016 at 5:54 am

    Thks Anna for sharing. This tutorial is just what I needed!

  19. Jane on February 5, 2016 at 6:33 am

    Hello Anna, inspiring video as usual. Wondering if you have any plans to conduct painting classes in Australia? Happy 2016. Jane

  20. SaraswatiChD on February 5, 2016 at 9:34 am

    Incredible, I thought it was the foto that you painted off when I first saw your picture. Thanks so much for this demonstration. Nice alternative to a large flat wash which is so hard to get right.

  21. Barb on February 6, 2016 at 8:12 am

    Love the background technique I just need patience. Hope you were able to visit Siesta Beach in Sarasota-the white sand is one of the best in the world. Enjoy.

  22. Adele on February 7, 2016 at 6:57 pm

    Very helpful. Thank you so much.

  23. Melody Saunders Brenna on February 7, 2016 at 10:44 pm

    Just Fantastic Anna– VERY professional– yet understandable to beginners and experienced alike!!!!

  24. Claire Harkness on November 24, 2017 at 7:00 pm

    Thanks for this video, just in time for me! Creating backgrounds scares me! What size brush were you using?

Leave a Comment