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  • Yufen Zha

Tutorial: Spring Garden Party - Feel Good Watercolor on Paper

Updated: May 10, 2021

Spring Garden Party, watercolor on paper, 9" x 12"

Hello, my creative friends! Happy spring!

For those of us living on the Mid Atlantic coast in the US, it's always an exciting time when the daytime temperature creeps up and breaks 60 degrees after a long and dark winter. My family spent the last couple of weeks bathing in the sunshine as well as spring showers while cleaning up the garden beds and discovering critters. Spring is indeed here!

This tutorial was inspired by the many splendid colors and hues we are starting to see around here. Let's not forget our garden friends who are slowly waking up :). And the rain? That just adds to the romance!

I've been busy sketching spring (using paint) almost every day this past week, testing out paint colors, techniques, and styles. Below are a few samples of fun I've had.

For today's tutorial I decided to go with tulips which is one of my favorite flowers that always bring a smile to my face. The number and variety of shades you can find tulips are astounding. I'm going to go with the brilliant pink as I know the perfect paint color for this job, Daniel Smith Opera Pink! if you are not familiar with Opera Pink, please check out this post where I talk about it in details.

Below is the supply list for this painting. I’ve included a few affiliate links so you can find the products I love.


Supply List

1. To start, I taped my watercolor paper down to a board using Drafting Tape to prevent buckling. I then lightly wet the whole paper with clean water.

Please note that I picked out WN Green Gold and Janet's Violet Rose but used it very sparingly. You really don't need them so please don't feel compelled to add more pigment.

2. I then dropped in Opera Pink, Cadmium Yellow, Green Apatite Genuine and a smidge of Thalo Blue Turquoise. To get a background with clean and vivid colors that seemingly all mixed together, you will need to be mindful of where to drop each pigment. If you let all the colors mix and mingle together, your colors will no doubt be muted or even muddy. Try to limit the color mixing to 2 pigments only anywhere on the paper and avoid having the green touch the pink. This way your pigments will retain their saturation and look bright and crisp.

3. Please keep in mind that watercolor dries much lighter than when it's wet so your dried background will look paler than what you would expect. When you are satisfied with the paint application on your background, leave it to dry naturally if you have the time. This is the best way to let watercolor pigment work their magic and create pleasing patterns. If you are short on time, you can use a blow dryer or heat gun to speed up the drying process.

4. Now loosely define the edges of the tulips using Opera Pink, Cadmium Yellow, and Thalo Blue Turquoise. Here I always drop the blue into wet pink pigment so that I get glowing purple or violet. I also loosely defined the stems and leaves using all four colors. Please watch the accompanying video tutorial on how I painted these tulips.

5. Below is what it looks like after I finished painting the first layer of the tulips and leaves.

6. Since the two tulips on the bottom are the focal point of this painting, I went back and re-defined some of the edges of these two flowers as well as their leaves & stems to bring them more into focus. I also lightly enhanced areas of the background so it echoes more of the foreground colors.

7. With the amount of rain we have here in spring, I couldn't wait to add some "mist bubbles" to the painting using the White Gouache Paint.

Make sure you use a separate container for your gouache paint so that it doesn't mix with your wet watercolor paint.

For the mist bubbles, paint the outline of a circle and lose the edges here and there. When the white gouache dries it becomes much more transparent hence giving you the illusion of a waterdrop. You will most likely need to go back and paint a few layers of the white gouache to make it sufficiently visible. Make sure you design a path to take your mist bubbles from the bottom to the top.

8. It's not a party if we don't have anyone to attend the occasion. Here I used a Chinese brush painting technique and painted the first layer of two butterflies using the White Gouache Paint. I then mixed Opera Pink and Thalo Blue Turquoise for a glowing purple and glazed on top of the butterflies. You can alternatively skip the white gouache and just paint the butterflies with the purple mix.

For those of us who love a little sparkle (and who doesn't?), I used the Kuretake ZIG Wink of Stella brush pen to brush on a thin layer of clear sparkle. Now the butterflies are dressed for the occasion and ready for the party!

To tie the mist bubbles and butterflies together, I lightly splattered some White Gouache droplets.

We are done! I've had so much fun with this one. Here is the completed painting.

I hope the LIVE paint along session combined with these written steps as well as this accompanying video tutorial will inspire and help you to give this painting a try.

To see the work from fellow artists from this session or to share your work from these paint along sessions & tutorials, please follow my Facebook studio page "Yufen Zha Studio" and request to join our private group "Friends of Yufen Zha Studio".

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Until next time, happy creating..


Pankey Kite
Pankey Kite
Apr 10, 2021

Thank you very much for sending this along. I was so disappointed esp. since I had purchased all supplies. Tomorrow will be a rainy Saturday here. I know what I will be doing and thanks again.

Yufen Zha
Apr 10, 2021
Replying to

Yay! Painting on a rainy day is so very relaxing! Enjoy and hope to see you in the next session!

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