How to paint a daffodil ( or yellows are very tricky)

How to paint a daffodil ( or yellows are very tricky)

This year January seemed to go on and on , but we are now in February and I bought my first daffs in the supermarket the other day. Their cheery yellow trumpets can't help but cheer me up.




The month of January always reminds me of this brilliant poem by the brilliant Brian Bilston....

Thirty days has September,

April, June and November.

Unless a leap year is its fate,

February has twenty-eight.

All the rest have three days more,

excepting January,

which has six thousand,

one hundred and eighty-four.


Brian Bilston

But there are signs of Spring around the garden, so all is not lost


In recent days  the sun has made an appearance and that always lifts the spirits 


Cyclamen are flowering

And so are a few daffs

So with Spring very much in mind I have decided to paint myself warmer, and concentrate on a daffodil.... 


Hands up, I have long struggled with painting yellow flowers. why? I think it is because there is no tonal range in yellow, so you have to add other colours into the mix. Hey ho I think I have got to grips with it now so here is my daffodil tutorial.

Firstly I found an image on pixabay and printed it off, I often rest it on my computer screen as the light behind it helps me see it better.

Then I sketch it out , this paper is bockingford rough and is 21cm x 30cm

Then I use a spray bottle to spray the paper, around and on the daffodil 


It gets pretty wet.


Now using a mixture of Indian yellow and lemon yellow, I add colour to the flower all over, but leaving some white paper highlights. Look where the lightest parts of the flower are.

Let your paint do it's thing, then let it dry.

Now you can start on the petals.

I rewet the paper and drop in more yellow and then here there is cerulean blue and cad red mixed with cobalt blue, for the darker shadows. Be bold if you can, the bigger the tonal range the better the depth will appear.


Now I have moved to the next but one petal so the first can dry while I paint this one. Again looking for the darks and lights, and using contrasting colours to bring out the yellows.

I have also begun working on the trumpet. I have used a raw sienna as well as the purply colour to give it shading remember to let the yellow shine through, and paint in the direction , the shape of the flower dictates.


I am moving around the petals, adding more yellow and more shading where nesseccary. I am only using the colours mentions to dive the flower definition.


Work carefully and methodically, if you get tired finish a petal and begin it again on another day, fresh eyes are often a bonus with a subject like this.

I am trying to leave some white of the paper shining through too, as well as working on the inside of the trumpet now as well.

So now the flower is finished, see how dark the shadows are to enable it to sing. After I had finished I looked up watercolour daffodils and there are so many different ways to paint this flower, this is just my interpretation. I hope you find it useful but not constraining...remember this is art and there are no right or wrong ways just the way you like to do it.

Next I added the stem and some leaves using different greens and yellows and blues.

Look carefully at the detail and put in as much or as little as you like. I sprayed the bottom of the leaves so they faded off the page, and so for me my daffodil is done, deciding when to stop is almost as hard as deciding to give it a go...good luck , and here's to Spring!




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Thanks for this easy to follow and excellent tutorial. Yellows are tricky!


Love your work and sharing of your technique. Could you please place me on your follow your blog list.


Thank you Rachel. This is a beautiful daffodil. 🙂


Thank you for all nice paintings you are sharing to us. I love to watch what you are sharing to us onThursdays. This Thursday I got very suprised, Thank you for the little poem.II didn´t know it was English. I´ve taught the schoolkids in Sweden it on swedish, and in Germany on german.
I´ve painted some of your birds and was so sad that I couldn´t buy your lovely oystercatcher mug.

Gisela Karm

This is amazing, love the daffodil. I hadn’t done any painting for 12 years since mum passed away. I had been itching to start with spring flowers and your blog has provided the starting point and inspiration I needed Thank you so much. I had a go at snowdrops last night and it’ll be daffodils today am excited to start!


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