How to Paint Flowers Wet into Wet

Wet into wet techniques with oil paints allows the artist to explore happy accidents. This can result in an effective oil painting of flowers, as this demonstration shows.


Using Wet into Wet with Oil Paints


Wet into wet entails applying a wet pigment onto a wet surface, allowing the colours to bleed into one another.
The paint moves in a fluid fashion and colours flow into neighbouring colours in interesting ways. The organic shapes of natural subject matter such as the St John’s Wort featured in this oil painting demonstration can be suggested by applying wet paint onto a wet undercoat.
Wet into Wet Painting Tips
  • A bold approach is best when using wet into wet, but don’t try to control the pigment. Allow the colours to flow in unexpected ways
  • If the oil paint loses some of its fluidity, add more linseed oil, but don’t ladle it on, or the paint will become too runny
  • Avoid applying contrasting colours when using wet into wet or the resultant mix could end up muddy
  • Employ the minimum amount of brushwork required. Overworking the painting will cause it to lose its freshness.
  • Allow imperfections to remain, for this is the point of employing wet into wet and will in fact add to a painting’s charm
  • Endeavour to finish the painting in one sitting, or at least before the paint dries, or the painting could lose its fluid look

Art Materials Required

  1. A still life setting with flowers
  2. Linseed oil, A quick drying art medium such as Liquin can be used
  3. Oil paints in the following colours: titanium, cadmium red, permanent rose, cadmium yellow, lemon yellow, viridian, ultramarine, burnt sienna and burnt umber
  4. A 12” x 16” (30.5 x 40.5cm) piece of primed MDF
  5. A size 3 and size 6 round sable brushes
  6. A ½ inch wide bristle brush
  7. A palette consisting of a china plate
  8. Small pot of artists’ white spirits
  9. A few rags
  10. Soft pencil
(This site comprise of pictures and excerpts taken from my two art instruction books. Oil Paintings from Your Garden can be purchased direct from the author via this site, or through Amazon

My other book, Oil Paintings from the Landscape can be purchased direct from Amazon.

Still Life Painting of Flowers


St John’s wort and an assortment of winter berries had been set up by the window. The sunlight cast an interesting silhouette of the flowers on the curtain which contributed to the setting. The still life was then begun via a rough sketch onto the painting surface.


Demonstration on Floral Artwork


The painting was begun by the application of a wet underglaze of burnt sienna and permanent rose to inject some warmth into the painting. Plenty of linseed oil was added to give the mixture a fluid consistency. The oil painting glaze was then daubed over the surface. The easel was angled so that the paint would not run off.


Working Wet into Wet


The broad areas of sunlight were applied first. This consisted of a mixture of ultramarine, white and permanent rose. The paint was applied via a broad bristle brush.


The petals of the St John’s Wort were applied via a thin sable loaded with cadmium yellow, lemon yellow and plenty of white. Viridian was added for the leaves. The colour was darkened with a little burnt sienna to suggest form.


Still Life Tutorial with Flowers


The teapot and small vase were expressed by a limited palette of white, ultramarine and burnt sienna. Neat cadmium red was dabbed onto the berries and the highlights dabbed in a similar way. Permanent rose, burnt umber, ultramarine and varying amounts of white were blocked in for the background. Standing away from the painting will help the artist judge the tones more accurately.


Wet into Wet Technique


Using wet paint onto a wet surface is known as wet into wet and can be daunting at first. In the case of oil paints, a lot of linseed oil or artists’ white spirits is required with the mixture, to give the painting a fluid look. Bold colours and confidence in painting are required for a successful execution of a wet into wet oil painting, and to allow imperfections to remain.

YouTube Video

My youtube clip showing the oil painting process of a daffodil speeded up.

© Rachel Shirley 2010