Your Next Summer Painting Idea? A Backyard Garden

If you’ve got a green thumb, you know the joys of watching your summer garden grow. But there’s also a joy in turning your garden into a piece of art that will always remind you of the fruits (and vegetables) of your backyard labors.

Gather your pencils, basic paint colors and paintbrushes (and of course a sweet summer day to set the tone!). Keep reading for my tips on how to paint a garden, including some of the flowers, vegetables and a few other garden details to create your summer masterpiece.

Summer Garden Painting

No backyard garden? Don’t worry — you won’t have trouble finding inspiration. There are lots of great garden photos in books, magazines and even right here on Craftsy that will inspire great pieces of art, too. 

Here’s a picture of my own garden that I will be using for reference for this post. Feel free to paint along!

Summer garden

Radishes

Radish growing in summer garden

Drawing a radish will help you learn to draw any of the other root vegetables, like beets, turnips, carrots and so on.

Using the image below for your guide:

Radish painted with watercolors

Step 1:

Draw a partial shape of the radish (only part because the leaves will cover some of the radish). Add three stems where the leaves attach. Draw the radish bottom unevenly to make it look like it’s emerging from the soil.

Step 2:

Using your reference photo or garden, add the leaves. Different radish varieties can have different leaf formations; I am following the photo above.

Step 3:

Clean up and refine you sketch. Paint the soil a nice brown shade.

Step 4:

Paint the radish a pink/red shade. Deepen this color around the top and side for shading. Then paint the leaves a nice bright green shade. It helps to paint the leaves unevenly to create the effect of light hitting the leaves. Lastly, shade the soil around the sides of the radish and under the leaves to add depth.

Lettuce

Because there are so many varieties of lettuce, I have done two samples below. The skill is the same for any leafy plants.

Lettuce painted with watercolors

Step 1:

Draw your lettuce slowly — try shaping one section or piece at a time. You don’t have to draw it perfectly. Just aim for a pleasing shape that mirrors your reference. Lettuce can be tricky to draw, but you’re drawing skills will benefit from this practice.

Step 2:

Wet the whole lettuce and paint it lighter in some places and darker in others. Paint the leaves with a green watercolor. Adding a little yellow or blue will create more dynamic shades to work with.

Step 3:

 When nearly dry, dab in a little darker saturation under the folds and where one leaf shadows another.

Sunflowers

Sunflowers are very easy to draw and to paint. Here is a simple formula to make a lovely little sunflower painting.

Step 1: 

Draw a rough-edged circle. This will be the brown center of the flower. Then, draw a stem with a few large heart-shaped leaves. Leave a little gap between the flower center and the stem — this is where you will be drawing petals.

Beginning sketch of a sunflower

Step 2: 

Draw the sunflower petals. Overlap some and draw a few just showing the tops from behind.

Then, draw in the stem/vein lines on the leaves and add a crisscross pattern in the flower’s center.

Sunflower Sketch

Step 3:

Paint the flower and stem the shades of yellow and green you like.

To paint the center, wet some of the little diamond shapes you crisscrossed and dab a darker shade of the same hue into them. Only do this to a few of them to bring out the pattern and create the effect of reflecting light.

Wet between the veins of the leaves and dab in a darker shade to give relief to the veins.

Watercolor sunflower

Flower pot and spade

There’s no doubt that this makes a perfect still life subject! I have sketched my shovel half in the soil. Notice that the dirt is shaped unevenly around the spade to complete the effect. The flower pot is drawn with the dirt hugging the bottom as well.

Garden artwork

I used Payne’s gray watercolor for the shovel to make it silvery.  Notice the shading on the sides and bottom of the flower pot to add perspective.

Lastly, I added some shading to the dirt behind the shovel and then on the same side of the flower pot.

Some sweet little seedlings add a nice touch.

Chives

A series of vertical, curvy lines that meet in a point at the top make drawing chives an easy practice.

The flower is a series of a flower petal shapes heaped one on top of the others. 

Chive sketch and watercolor

Sometimes it’s nice to just make a piece of art from a portion of a plant. The one little flower that catches your eye or the perfectly formed vegetable might be all you need for inspiration.

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