How to Paint Wild Roses and a Hummingbird | Watercolor Tutorial & Sketchbook Series

In this tutorial, I'll tell you all about my watercolor technique and how I mix colors to create these bright wild roses and an iridescent hummingbird. Watch the video or read my explanations below.

Canson Art Book Montrval Watercolor (140 lb/300g 10 in x 7 in)
St. Petersburg Watercolors also known as Nevskaya Politra by Yarka, but you can use any professional watercolors you have. Most professional watercolors are highly pigmented and that's what we want.

Any big flat brush to wet the canvas, at least one inch, like this one or you can use any blending brush
Round Roubloff mongoose imitation #10, #7 similar, similar
Round Roubloff squirrel #5, similar in a set
Round Roubloff sable #3, similar
Flat squirrel brush 1 inch in size (blending brush for softening the brush strokes) or any soft paintbrush will do, similar
Synthetic liner brush #2 (used for details), similar

Paper towel or Soft napkins

Two cups of water–It is nice to have two cups of water to clean your brushes between painting applications. The first is used to clean the brushes and the second for applying clean water on paper. Try it. You won't regret it.

Today, I'm pink wild roses and a hummingbird. I'm using two reference photos for this artwork. I include them here if you decide to do a similar painting.

Download the reference photos here: and

I almost always do a rough sketch and design the composition before putting paint to paper. If I were to do a big painting, not in my sketchbook, I would do a detailed drawing with the pencil first and only then transfer it to the watercolor paper. But here, I'm sketching on watercolor paper, but very lightly so I won't see the pencil marks after adding the paint. After drafting simple shapes, mostly circles and ovals, I add details, separate leaves, flower centers, etc.

For my hummingbird, I'm doing the same thing: drawing lightly simple shapes, adding details and erasing any extra pencil marks.

Before I start painting, I erase dark pencil lines and leave only outlines of the drawing. I don't want the pencil drawing to clash with my watercolor layers. Since watercolor is translucent, the dark pencil lines will bleed through the paint and can even make the painting muddy.

Color Palette for This Painting

  • For the flowers, I'm using three colors: Madder Lake Red Light, Carmine and Violet Rose. If you would like to match the colors, two of the colors are cool red-pinks, and the last color is violet or light purple color with a hint of rose pigment. To get a dark pink color, I'm adding Indigo to the colors.
  • For my greens, I'm using Indigo and Green (it's called "Green" in my color palette by Nevskaya Palitra). This Green is more on a warm side, and you can quickly mix a little bit of warm yellow (aka yellow ochre) to any green to achieve this color. For my third green color, I'm creating a sap green by mixing the green with cadmium yellow and yellow ochre.
  • For the hummingbird, I'm using Ultramarine, Violet, and Sepia for my brown as well as greens and pinks from the flowers and the leaves. I don't have swatches done for ultramarine, violet, and sepia because I decided to add these colors later. Watch my video to learn more about these colors.
  • I'm also using a yellow throughout the painting in flowers, leaves, and a hummingbird. To get the yellow, mix Naples Yellow with Cadmium Yellow Medium. 

I start my painting by doing a wet-on-wet technique. Initially, I'm doing the background of the flowers. I grab each pigment with my very wet paintbrush, which allows me to create transparent layers. It's always a good idea to start with translucent, transparent layers. Also, as you can see, I used a pink color in my background. This pink will unify the composition once I add my flowers to my painting.

For the flowers, I'm painting with multiple layers, starting with a light pink wash and then darkening each petal with violet and dark pink. Since the paper is still pretty wet, the colors move freely and create beautiful soft shapes.

I'm using the same wet-on-wet technique to paint the hummingbird. I add translucent layers of indigo, a little bit of ultraviolet, sepia, ad the same green and yellow I used in my leaves.

Once the first layer of paint is done, and the paper is pretty much dry, I start adding details to the painting with wet-on-dry technique. As I mentioned previously, to create a darker pink color, mix indigo with violet and pink. I'm using the dark pink color for my shadows on the petals and where ever I need some contrast.

My technique mostly consists of painting the darker shapes that I see in my reference photo and then softening the edges with a clean wet blush. Also, I add drops of water to the paper and push the colors into them.

For my hummingbird, I'm incorporating the same green, yellow and indigo I used in my flowers, but I'm also using a little bit of green and purple straight from the pans. The pigments are so bright that they create a glow effect on the bird. I'm also using sepia, my cooler brown, to paint the wings. Since I want the bird to hover over the flower, I don't emphasize the edges of the wings, but instead, I let the paint thin out into the background.

I'm painting extra leaves and plants to unify the painting; otherwise, the flowers and the bird look like they are from a separate composition.

Also, I would like to note: if it looks like I'm using black to darken my shadows, that's not true. I'm using indigo color, not black and again, I'm using the color in multiple places to unify the artwork.

To create the last finishing touches to painting, mostly the tall grass and other details, I'm using the thinnest paintbrush I have. It's called a liner brush. It has very long bristles, and it makes it easy to create thin lines.

Here is the finished painting, of course, I can continue painting and include more details. An artwork is never done-done. But for now, I would like to conclude my tutorial. Let me know in the comments below if you have any questions.

I encourage you to paint with me. Show off your painting by tagging me on Instagram and using #theinspiredartist-sketchbook hashtag. Also, don't forget to subscribe to my Instagram to see my art process and what I'm working on every day.

XOXO Dasha


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