How to Paint Poppies (Part One- The Background)

As soon as I shared this painting I did for my dad in honor of Remembrance Day, (you can see the whole post, along with a story about my Grand Daddy here), I quickly got a handful of requests for a tutorial. Well I wanted to make another similar painting anyways, so here is your tutorial!

Obviously this painting is a lot more detailed than my usual more-fun button trees, but I really wanted to share this so you guys can be inspired and realize that even if you are a new painter you can totally do this! The process took a few steps, and I took A LOT of pictures to make it really clear, so I’m going to be sharing this tutorial in three different parts: The background, the flowers, and the stems/ paper airplane (ya, there’s a paper airplane hiding in there!)

Let’s start with the background!

For the background of this particular painting, I used a combo of white and burnt umber acrylic paint. You can use any shade of brown (or any color at all for that matter) and white. And if you are just starting out, those craft paints that are a buck from Walmart will do just fine!!!

This background (like a lot of my backgrounds) features blending techniques that are pretty basic, but if you want to see a quick video on blending and how to make something go gradually from dark to light, check out this link.

I wish I could make a video for you guys but my voice kind of sounds like a transvestite going through puberty, and when I’m nervous it gets all shaky. Trust me, it would be the kind of video that makes you very uncomfortable LOL!

For this painting I used a 16″x20″ canvas. But you could use pretty much anything… a piece of wood, or a chunk of circle mat board like I did the first time around works just fine.

Begin painting at the bottom of your canvas with the darkest color that you will be using. I didn’t use straight burnt umber, because it would wind up so dark that the poppies and stems wouldn’t show up very well. So I mixed it with some white paint until I got this shade!

I just used a bunch of crazy-person strokes (I’m not an art teacher, sorry about the unprofesh lingo!) like so. Just go back and forth, and up and down, crissy crossy, and even a little swirly. This background should not be perfect.

I made sure to have the dark paint climb up the edges of the canvas, and a few spots in the middle to keep it interesting.

Now get a lighter shade of your color (just add white) and ‘fill in’ the un-painted areas like this:

This is where being quick and not over-thinking it come in really handy. As long as your paint is still wet, you can easily blend the colors together or even cover them up with a different shade if you went too light or too dark.

While you are trying to get rid of any stark contrasts, you still need to just let go and have fun, not aiming for perfection. If your paint is feeling thick or is drying out too quickly, you can try adding a bit of water to thin it out.

It’s getting there!

If you are using a stretched canvas, don’t forget to bring the paint down the sides like this:

That will give it a nice finished look!

Keep adding white and moving up the canvas using the same crazy man strokes and blending as you did before.

You might get to a point where an area you paint looks kind of… plain:


That definitely needs some help and different shades! With this type of background you don’t want to have a big area of one solid color:

Ewy. Thankfully this is easily remedied! Make sure the paint is still wet, and add a small amount of your dark color to your brush:

And get your crazy man strokes on here and there.

That’s better!

Now keep painting up until you have a nice light color at the top of your canvas and you are happy with the background! Note that this background might look different every time, depending on your strokes and mood. Compare it to my original poppy painting:

Totally different, but it’s the same idea, right?

Next, Wash the paint off your table, you lazy slug!

Much nicer. Man, sometimes my messiness during creative endeavors is just embarrassing! I could have so easily put newspaper under my canvas, but I was so eager to get painting! Of course there is a huge amount of work in the end that could have been avoided, but it’s just so obnoxious to have to stop what you’re doing!

Okay, THAT’s yer background!!! I’m using this background for my poppy painting, but you can feel free to do your own thing now! A button tree or silhouette or anything really would look great over this!

Okay, let’s move on to the pretty part- The flowers!!!

~Dot

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About Busted Button

Where Creativity and A.D.D. meet…on a blind date…under a bridge…and make a baby.
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4 Responses to How to Paint Poppies (Part One- The Background)

  1. Pingback: How to Paint Poppies (Part Two: The Flowers) | Busted Button

  2. Pingback: How to Paint Poppies (Part Three: The Stems and Paper Plane) | Busted Button

  3. Pingback: How to Paint Poppies (Part Three: The Stems and Paper Plane) | Busted Button

  4. Pingback: It’s not Remembrance Sunday, but it kinda always is! | Perish &Fade

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