Poinsettia Flower Watercolor Painting Lesson

Simplified Shapes and Complementary Colors For A Graphic Expression

Paint this popular holiday flower using a complementary color scheme and simplified shapes for a uniquely expressive interpretation.

Poinsettia Perfect

These cheery plants are seen everywhere during the Christmas holidays. They are the perfect subject to work with a complementary color scheme since their flowers (red) are the complementary color to their leaves (green).

As with all complementary color scheme compositions, this painting will have one of the colors – red – be more prominent, if not actually dominant, to help achieve unity and harmony.

Where the two complementary colors are used together or mixed together, we get colorful neutrals that harmonize with the overall color scheme.

Beyond the color scheme, we’ll simplify the details and bring attention to the interesting structure formed by the leaves, flowers and the pot.

What you’ll need:

  • Brushes – 1/4″ Flat, Medium Round, Small Round, Rigger
  • Colors – Cadmium Red Light, Lemon Yellow or Aureolin Mix, Winsor Newton French Ultramarine Blue
  • Watercolor paper – preferably Arches 140lb Cold Press cut to about 6 1/2″ x 5″ or so

Related Lessons

Painting Yellow Irises With Control And Layering

yellow irises watercolor paintingPainting “Tight”This lesson shows how to paint a group of yellow irises in a ‘tight’ manner. That may seem to mean taking control from the medium – the water – and restricting mixing and mingling.  In fact it is not that.

Instead, it really involves being ‘tight’ along the outer edges of the shapes while still allowing washes to flow freely within the edges and building up color, value and detail using fluid layers of paint.

Learn to use basic and free techniques in a contolled, layered approach. The result is a ‘tight’, high-resolution painting with a strong sense of realism.

This lesson shows how.

Complementary Color Schemes

A sample of complementary and split complementary color schemes in watercolorFor each primary color, there is a secondary color which is its “complement”. On the color wheel, complementary colors are directly opposite each other, across the middle of the wheel.

A Complementary Color Scheme is one that is based on the use of only two colors, a primary and its associated complement.  The combination of two complements, while somewhat limited in color variety, does allow the artist to create works with a full range of intensity and, depending on the exact colors used, possibly a full range of value as well.

This lesson gives a quick overview of the Complementary Color Scheme and the Split Complementary Color Scheme. Although a bit limited, the Complementary Color scheme is useful for learning about other important characteristics of color and in bringing vitality and unity to a composition. 

Landscape Painting Lessons

rural scene with barn watercolor painting

Seascape Painting Lessons

Still Life & Floral Painting Lessons