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How to add zentangles to your watercolor paintings

add colored pencils to your watercolors
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How to add zentangles to your watercolor paintings

I sometimes like to revisit a subject I already painted and work on it with a different medium. This time I did a different version of a flower painting I had done a few years ago with acrylics and pastels, I wanted a softer version of the flowers and perhaps adding some designs in the background. So I though about drawing some zentangle patterns on top of the watercolor painting.

acrylic and mixed media painting of green mums

Green Mums,
Acrylic and mixed media- previous version

You might also be interested in :Green Mums, acrylic and mixed media flower painting tutorial

green mums watercolor and mixed media on paper with zentangles

Green Mums, the new version with watercolor and zentangles Available- Click here to buy

Here is a step by step tutorial showing the steps I took to paint this Watercolor and Zentangles flower painting.
Material list:

  • Hot press Arches paper 140 lb, stretched on a foam board
  • Watercolor paints: Cadmium Lemon Yellow, Permanent Red, Burnt Sienna, Purple, Ultramarine Blue, Cobalt Blue, Payne’s grey.
  • Brushes
  • Alcohol
  • Bright blue colored pencil
painting a loose watercolor background and rough outline of the flowers

I started by a rough outline of the flowers and did prepare a mix for the background with Lemon yellow and Ultramarine blue and Permanent Red in a tiny bit of water. I then added alcohol instead of water to dilute this wash.

watercolor visual textures when painting with alcohol

Painting with alcohol instead of water will make the wash dry faster and form interesting textures.

I am a Blick Art Materials affiliate and I receive a small compensation for sales. That does not effect in any way the cost of the purchaser’s order but it helps me keeping the content of this blog free.


Da Vinci Artists’ Permanent Watercolors, 292 Yellow Ochre, 15 ml

Da Vinci paints are exciting, intense, and rated among the best in the world for quality. The paints are permanent, with the highest tinting strength and pigment concentration available, and a creamy consistency for smooth, easy dispersion with water.

Painting the watercolor flowers

experimenting with granulating medium on the flower stems

I also want to experiment with granulating medium and am adding it to the paint I will use for the stems. It also adds a nice textural effect.

painting flowers with watercolor before adding zentangles

Here I painted all the stems.

painting the background flowers with watercolor wet into wet

Then I start working on the background flowers, painting them wet into wet so the edges are not too defined. I want only the two front flowers to have more defined edges.

I am a Blick Art Materials affiliate and I receive a small compensation for sales. That does not effect in any way the cost of the purchaser’s order but it helps me keeping the content of this blog free.

Yarka St. Petersburg Professional Watercolor Pans

Same palette of traditional colors the great masters used a century ago. Liquid-poured means semi-moist pans respond instantly to a wet brush. 24 pans in plastic case. Also individual pans. – Master Set

painting wet into wet on the green mums

I am also painting the flower on the upper left side, using techniques of wet into wet painting and glazing.

background flowers are painted, light watercolor wash on flowers

Here the background flowers are painted and I did lay a very light green wash on the three flowers left.

painting the flowers with more defined shapes by layering watercolor washes

When painting the two main flowers, I am trying to describe more detailed shapes, by layering watercolor washes dry on wet. That way I can paint more precisely as painting dry on wet with watercolor will allow you to have more control on your wash edges.

wet on dry, wet into wet and glazing with watercolor to paint flowers

Working on the watercolor background:

I am painting the flowers, using techniques of painting wet into wet, wet on dry and glazing.

layering watercolor washes on the background

Then I want to tone down a bit the yellow of the background and have it a bit more greyish. So I am going to paint another wash diluted in alcohol, using the same mix of yellow, ultramarine blue and permanent red, but this time I am using more blue and red.

layering watercolor washes on the background

Adding another layer to the background.

layering watercolor to paint a textured background

I want to add a few specks of Cobalt blue.

adding drops of cobalt blue watercolor using a dropper

So I am splashing a mix of Cobalt blue in water, using a dropper.

spraying with a spray bottle

Then I am spraying a bit of water in some areas, using a spray bottle.

moving the watercolor paint with fingers

I find it fun to move the paint with my fingers sometimes 🙂

Adding zentangles to the watercolor flower painting:

outlining an area on the painting for zentangle patterns

I am then drawing a few pencil lines to outline an area where I want to add a few zentangles.

drawing zentangles flowers with colored pencils

Then I am starting to draw zentangle flowers using a bright blue colored pencil.

zentangles flowers with colored pencil on watercolor paper

I am drawing simple Flower designs., directly with the blue colored pencil on the watercolor paper.

stripe of zentangle flowers on watercolor paper

I am staying more or less in between the lines I previously drawn with graphite.

green mums watercolor flowers and mixed media on paper with zentangles

The finished painting: Green Mums, watercolor flowers with zentangles on paper

5/5 - (5 votes)

Comments (10)

  1. Lynda Murtha

    I just love following your work. I love the little tips you give along the way and the pictures you take of your work are great. Thank you!

    1. Thanks Lynda, This is very nice of you to take the time to make this nice comment 🙂

  2. Jeanine

    You’re so great to take the time to take photos at each step of your process and share your great ideas with us all. It must be so time consuming. I don’t know how you do it all.
    I love both of these pieces of art. They have a nice feel to them. Quick question on the mums you painted in this most recent work. Did you paint them from a reference photo? Or from live flowers? The reason I ask is due to the wonderful details of the petals, indicating the depth with the darker paint etc. I love the way you made them look. I find this particular type of painting diffiuclt to achieve without making it look like just a mess without any organization.

    1. Thanks Jeanine 🙂 For this painting I worked from a reference picture. I also like to work from life whenever is possible.

  3. […] Green MumsWatercolor and mixed media step by step painting tutorial […]

  4. Judy

    I love this piece of yours! and your tutorials!
    Hoping you could answer a couple questions. Where can I buy granulation medium in canada? and what kind of coloured pencil did you use on this piece?


    1. Thanks Judy, I used Winsor and Newton granulation medium, and regular colored pencils, I think that one was Laurentien studio.

      1. Judy

        Thank-you for replying. Can you buy the Winsor Newton Granulation Medium in Canada? I live in the Okanagan Valley, and Opus doesn’t carry it in store, or online, and neither does

        1. I forgot where I bought it, but found one at Curry Art Supplies, it is a Canadian store and I already ordered from them, they are very reliable:

          1. Judy

            Thank-you so much for your help!

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