Watercolor Floral Demo – “Nymphaea”

About the Artist

Laurie Asahara was raised on the Big Island of Hawaii and grew up within the vivid floral palette of the lush tropics. Laurie’s art reflects her impressions of the areas of the Western U.S. where she has lived: Hawaii, the desert southwest, northern California, western Washington, and Idaho. Having been a floral painter for many years, Laurie took an interest in portrait painting and now captures the diverse collection of personalities she finds in Eagle, Idaho where she now resides. Laurie had an earlier career as a practicing attorney, but now devotes full time to her art.

Artist’s Statement

I am a floral and portrait painter working predominantly in watercolor. This agile medium is ideal for layering pigment into luminous washes and creating stunning depth of color. Rendering the elements of sunlight, shadow, and reflected light with transparent pigment creates a fascinating dimensionality on the surface of the paper.

I strive to make my work captivate the viewer at first glance. I manipulate abstract shapes within organic forms to create optical cues that lead the eye through the composition via the interplay of shape, color, light, and shadow. My goal is to share my interpretation of natural forms, and invite people to see and feel the same excitement that I do. I developed a passion for the bold interplay of color as a child on the Big Island of Hawaii, a lush and vividly-hued environment.

My most recent floral paintings celebrate the newly authorized wine growing area of the state—The Snake River Valley American Viticultural Area. Grape growing is flourishing in Idaho and the succulent fruits and leafy vines are gorgeous subjects of my latest work. The portrait collection I’ve created reflects the broad range of people who comprise the fabric of the West . . . a glaring tank commander, a handsome champion bull rider, a venerable Idaho historian, a flamboyant rodeo queen, an artisan didjeridu maker, a cowboy fast draw shooter, and refugee children who have begun new lives here.

Follow this link to visit Laurie’s Site

Watercolor Floral Demo  – “Nymphaea”

(Click images below for larger views)

Step 1

The painting was drawn on a full sheet of Arches 300# cold press paper. The center parts of the flower were masked (in blue) to retain the white of the paper during applications of washes of pigment.

Step 2

I applied several layers of a transparent lemon yellow pigment on wet paper, letting each layer dry before applying the next.

Step 3

I applied a hot pink pigment on wet paper to the center of the flower and out to the petals, avoiding areas that I wanted to reserve pure lemon yellow pigment from earlier applications.

Step 4

I continued to build the petals as in the previous step, moving on to other petals. I applied additional layers of the hot pink pigment in varying strengths over previous applications, which intensified the color and increased the value in the petals.

Step 5

I began to model the petals with applications of manganese blue washes of pigment.

Step 6

I continued to build the petals as in the previous step, with a variety of blues, including cobalt blue, Antwerp or Prussian blue, and manganese blue.

Step 7

I continued to build color as in previous steps, and added an additional pigment, quinacridone magenta, to the center of the flower as well as over pink and blue areas of the petals to create form and deeper values. The layers of pigment were beginning to build, and were creating the lush hues that only can be developed through the layering of transparent washes.

Step 8

In this step I began to model the shadows and folds in the petals.

Step 9

Step 9 is a continuation of step 8. I intuitively moved around the painting, enhancing different areas as was needed to build up the flower. I brought some more of the lemon yellow pigment out into the open petals where areas of warm color were needed in juxtaposition to cool blues and cool pinks. This play of color temperatures may not exist in the reference photo, but it is needed to create a compelling painting.

Step 10

I removed the masking from the center of the flower and rendered it more precisely to create a center of interest with contrasting yellows, oranges, magentas, pinks and greens in a deeper value.

Step 11

In this step I created the first background washes. I used manganese blue, antwerp blue, viridian, and hooker’s green. I made dense puddles of each color on my palette, and then applied the paint directly on the dry paper. I applied the pigments straight, setting one color immediately adjacent to the next, so that only the border of each application of paint touched and bled together.


“Nymphaea” is the botanical name for this water lily. I took my reference photo of it as it floated in the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain at the Idaho Botanical Garden.


  1. Maureen Brown says

    I love your reflected light!, Do you wet each petal individually while working on them?. Mo.

  2. says

    I love this! I want so much to learn how to start with water colors but finding lessons difficult to locate in my rural area. So to see lessons like this give me hope!

    Just stunning, and thank you so much for going thru the time to post these details.

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