How to Paint Bluebells

bluebell image by Ruth Adair from

Bluebells are lovely flowers wherever they're found around the world, but people often think of them as particularly British because such great numbers of them -- of the common bluebell, Hyacinthoides non-scripta, at least -- are found in Britain. English bluebells traditionally symbolise humility and gratitude.

Whether you are a novice or a beginner, tackling this beautiful flower in paint can seem like a difficult task, but really just about anybody can draw and paint bluebells accurately.

Get something to work from; it is almost impossible to paint a bluebell without a freshly cut one in front of you. If you do not have access to a bluebell wood or good florist, a detailed photo will suffice.

Draw, accurately, the basic outline of the bluebell with a 2B pencil. Bluebell flowers are constructed basically of a cylinder shape on a stem. Once you have got the bend of the stem and the cylinder shape of the flower correct, then you can add in the curved petals. Don't worry if you make a mistake; it is far easier to rub it out with an eraser now than it will to correct it with paint later. Prepare your palette with your oil paints.

Brush in the darkest shades of paint onto your bluebell flower with a paintbrush. Look closely at where the shadows are. On a bluebell flower these will usually be inside the cylindrical tube and on the underside of the flower head, where the flower meets the stem. Dark browns, purples and blues are the best colours to use for painting in the darkest shades.

Paint in the midtones of the bluebell next by mixing your paint with a hint of white to lighten it slightly. These are the colours least affected by light and shadow. Bluebells may appear to be mainly composed of blue and purple shades, but if you study the flower carefully you will see a spectrum of colours. Do not be afraid to paint these in.

Mix your paint generously with white and brush in the lightest shades of your bluebell. Where the light hits the bluebell directly paint it in with pure white to emphasise the contrasts in tones. Wait for the paint to dry.

Stroke in smoothly, using a thin paintbrush, the veins of the bluebell petals with dark brown or purple paint. Paint in the direction of the vein to ensure accuracy. Paint in the bluebell seeds to finish.