Three Tips for Painting Loose Florals by Audrey Moon

This month’s blog post is brought to you by artist Audrey Moon of Audrey Ra Design. Audrey creates loose watercolor art from her studio in the Chicago suburbs.She is a well known watercolor instructor through her website and



Hi there! My name is Audrey Moon of Audrey Ra Design, and I’m happy to be a guest blogger for Indigo Street Studio. 

I’m a self-taught watercolorist who loves to paint flowers and all things related to nature. In this post, I want to share my best tips for painting loose florals because that’s what I love the most!

Before I dive into the tips, let me share a little bit more of why I love to paint loosely and what I mean by that. 

I’m a perfectionist by nature. I love schedules. I love planning every little detail and find satisfaction in parallel lines and perfect shapes. 

However, the drawback is that I overthink, analyze, and critique myself too harshly when I can’t do something perfectly. Learning watercolors has helped me overcome so much of the anxiety that’s tied to my perfectionism and painting loosely has really taught me to let go of all expectations. 

So as you’re reading about these tips and apply them to your watercolor practice, I hope you’ll keep in mind that painting loosely is not about achieving perfection. While you should have a beginner’s knowledge of how watercolors behave and a grasp on basic techniques, painting loosely comes with letting go of control of both the process and the outcome. 

When I say “paint loosely”, I mean that I don’t sketch ahead of time. I’ll have a general vision of what the outcome may look like. But I also allow myself to change gears midway. 

So if you’re ready to paint loose florals, let’s look at my top three tips.

1. Establish an overall shape

This is the planner side of me coming out. But it’s totally okay to have somewhat of a plan before you paint. If you have an idea of which flowers you want topaint like the roses above, then think about a shape to help anchor your painting. For the rose bouquet above, I chose a diamond shape.

For the tulips above, I chose a linear rectangle shape. But then I varied the heights of the tulips to keep it visually interesting. 

A circle is one of the easiest shapes to work with. You can either choose a wreath or paint within a circle.

2. Work quickly without thinking

This tip goes directly against the first tip, I know! But once you have a plan, the painting part needs to happen almost without thinking. 

One way to help you loosen up in order to paint without thinking is to work on drills. I have very specific brushstrokes that I teach in my workshops and online courses. And once your hand and brain remembers these movements and they get logged into your muscle memory, then painting with that muscle is so much easier. 

So have a plan, but then once you start painting, work from muscle memory so that you can paint almost automatically. 

3. Add minimal final details

I usually complete my loose floral paintings with just one layer. Sometimes, however, you need to add some extra details using the wet-on-dry method to really make the flowers stand out. 

In the above photo of chrysanthemums and asters, I painted the petals in a light value as the first layer. Then after that layer had dried, I used a smaller brush to add depth to the petals, details on the stamen, and other fine details.

Work slowly when you do final details. Add just a little at a time. Then take a step back and observe how it looks. Then add more as needed. But only add just enough to give you a sense of what the flower is. 

Believe me, there is so much more to loose florals than just these three tips. But I hope it sparks some creativity and inspiration in you!

Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you in my corner of the watercolor world.

Visit Audrey on her website, on YouTube or take a class from her here! or on

3 Tips for Painting Loose Florals-Audrey Ra Design.docx

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