Easy Mandala Inspired by an Unusual Flower: Watercolor Tutorial

Easy Mandala Inspired by an Unusual Flower: Watercolor Tutorial

The easy mandala in this tutorial has no intricate, multi-layered patterns. It is a flower. Learn how to watercolor it.

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Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

What if an unusual flower is all you need to draw and paint an easy mandala? Nature abounds in beautiful, breathtaking patterns and forms. 

The mandala in this tutorial has no intricate, multi-layered patterns. The reference photo of the flower is a mandala. The exceptional arrangement of petals, leaves, and stamen makes it so. Let your creativity loose as you follow the steps to watercolor this flower. It’s a fun and relaxing process. 

I could not find much information about the Nasa Triphylla flower on the internet. It is native to Central and South America and belongs to a striking family called Loasaceae

Reference photo of flower mandala.
Photo: Andreas Kay via Flickr/ Creative Commons

Step1: Assessing the flower in the reference photo

In the “headshot” of the flower, we see how the elements distribute in a geometric pattern. It reminds me of sacred geometry, a fascinating subject. Artists and designers have copied geometric patterns in nature for thousands of years. 

Since we will make a watercolor painting, let us take a snapshot of the colors in the photo first. I used our manual color palette generator for artists to pick up the dominant colors. 

Picking up a color palette from the image.
I used our manual color palette generator from image tool to pick up the swatches.

It’s a good idea to mix your colors in advance. That way you can focus on the creative process instead of struggling to get the right shades. 

Creating a watercolor color palette.

Step 2: Drawing an easy mandala 

Start by drawing circles with distances that approximate how the flower is constructed. If you want to skip drawing, you can download my drawing for free (members: please check your newsletter for access) to trace it and transfer it.

Start the drawing with circles.

After some back and forth, I landed on a stylized version of the flower. Since my goal was to paint a mandala, I made no attempt to draw realistically. 

Draw in the details around the circle to complete the mandala drawing.

Step 3: Painting leaves and petals with watercolor

Painting red on top of yellow is no problem, so you can start by painting most of the center yellow.

Paint the center with yellow watercolor.

The green leaves are the most prominent feature. To create gradients, paint them solid green first. In the inner part of the leaves, paint with ochre yellow. Push the brush strokes outwards to make the inner part lighter. 

Painting the first leaves with green and ochre.

In the photo below, the leaves are now dry. I wanted all five to have as much contrast as the one on the right.

All the five leaves painted and dry.

To achieve a stronger contrast, paint over with plenty of green pigment, but less water. Use a watercolor sponge to soak up paint on the inner part of the leaves. Paint the stamen in light yellowish-green while you’re at it. 

Creating gradients on the leaves by using a sponge.

Now that the leaves are dry, it’s time to watercolor the petals (yes, they don’t look like petals). They are greyish. I used a sponge to get the right tint. Take note that there is a darker tint in the centerline going down the petals. 

The leaves done, and the petals painted with greyish watercolor.

Step 4: Painting details with watercolor

First, draw the lines with white gouache

Draw white lines with white gouache.

Second, paint the various small circles and ovals with a pale yellow. 

Paint the various small circles and ovals with pale yellow.

Third, paint part of the center red.

Paint the red pattern in the center of the flower.

In the next step, I painted tiny brown stripes taking cues from the photo. Later on, I painted it over with white gouache because I didn’t like it. But only in the center; the brown lines around the stamens stayed.

Paint tiny brown lines.
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Step 5: Adding more details with colored pencils

With a light green colored pencil, draw over the white lines. To soften the red in the center I used colored pencil, but it didn’t work that well.

Drawing over the leaves with a light green colored pencil,, and red in the center.

Instead, I painted the center once again with red and a stronger yellow.

I felt that the red color needed to echo somewhere else in the painting. That is how I started to play with dots. But first, I used various colored pencils to strengthen highlights and shadows. 

Drawing with several colors pencils for highlights and shadows, and painting dots here and there.

Step 6: Completing the flower mandala

The finished painting surprised me. The look of light emanating from the center just happened. In yoga meditation, each chakra has a geometric form and its own mandala. When I look at this flower mandala, it feels like a heart chakra. Well, that’s my feeling. What do you think?

If you wonder about the art materials you need for this tutorial, my Guide to Art Supplies should be helpful.

Happy painting!

Here are some more watercolor tutorials (out of many):

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