Painting Abstract Poppies with a Round Brush

This week I am sharing a tutorial videos from my Facebook page, where I will be highlighting different types of acrylic paint brushes and how choosing the right one can make your job easier. I will choose a brush and teach you a few techniques while painting flowers LIVE! The first in this series is a quick tutorial showing you how to paint easy abstract poppies with a round brush. 

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_Painting Abstract Poppies The Social Easel Online Paint Studio

There are many round brush sizes, and I will be using a few in the poppy painting tutorial so you can see them in action in the video below.

I find painting abstract poppies so enjoyable! You know I love to paint in a loose abstract style, and the bold blooms we will be painting today really highlight that technique. This is also a great easy acrylic painting tutorial for beginners.

How to paint Poppies

Poppies come in many colors and today, I am painting them classic warm, vibrant red. To give my flowers that tone, a lot of texture, and dimension, I will be layering in strokes of red and orange.

Remember, when selecting your paint colors, you don’t have to use what I am using in my tutorials. I know that it has been hard to find specific colors in stock. Choose the colors that appeal to you and get creative! If you aren’t finding what you’d like, I have a few blogs about color mixing! 



3 Painting Abstract Poppies The Social Easel Online Paint Studio

Round Brush Sizes

Choosing the size of round brush to use all depends on the outcome you are aiming to achieve. For the larger blooms, I use a fat #10 (size numbers vary between brands), the other poppies with a #2, and for my narrow stems, I used #1 and fine liner brushes.

Create the Poppy Shape

These abstract poppies start with an irregular shape. Load your brush with quite a bit of paint and press it into the paper. To create forward-facing poppies, move your brush around to create an imperfect circle. The blossoms that aren’t quite open yet, or facing another direction, have a V form. The irregularity of the edges will become the tips of your pedals.

2 Painting Abstract Poppies The Social Easel Online Paint Studio

Add Layers of Color to Create Pedals

Most red paints are translucent and will need to be layered to be opaque. When painting with acrylic paint, just let the base layer dry and add another.

In this poppy painting, I layer in orange over the wet red paint to get some blending. Move quickly and don’t cover all the red.

Trust the process! I love this loose abstract painting technique. You will see how it starts to take shape with a beautiful texture.

Abstract Poppies The Social Easel Online Paint Studio

Paint Stems and Leaves

Next, paint the long narrow poppy stems. I like to load my small round brush with two green colors to add variation and texture to the stem. Hold your brush perpendicular to the painting surface and lightly drag down organically.

Make sure you are using a light amount of pressure to keep the stems thin.

A few things to remember when painting:

  • Make sure you have enough paint on your brush. Smaller brushes will need to be reloaded with paint more often.
  • The pressure you apply when painting can be just as or even more important than the brush’s size.

Add some leaves with the same brush and paints. I just push the paint around, kinda messily into the poppy leave shape. Abstract painting isn’t meant to be perfect, and neither are these leaves.


Next, we need to add some shading to our poppies. There are two options for creating your shade colors.

  1. Red and green are opposites on the color wheel, so they create a neutral tone when you mix them. This means that if you add a little bit of green to your red, it will dull it down. Try it out! You will see this creates a beautiful burgundy. 
  2. Add a little bit of black to your red to deepen. Black paint is very potent, make sure only to use a tiny amount. 
Painting Abstract Poppies The Social Easel Online Paint Studio

Create shadows with your shading color and liner brush. This can be done randomly like the orange paint. Don’t worry, this may look like a bunch of messy brushstrokes right now, but it will come together!

Add darkness to the base of the flowers that aren’t forward-facing, near the stem, and blend up.

I like a lot of texture and layers in my paintings. Don’t be afraid to go back and add more of the bright red. You can also blend in more defined arch brush strokes to create petal shapes if you want too.


To bring brightness to this abstract poppy painting, I add a few highlights by mixing a bright orange paint and again, messily layer it in.

Then, with a fine liner brush, I add yellow to just a few pedal tips, the stems, and leaves.

Spring Chapel Abstract Poppies The Social Easel
Spring Chapel Painting with Abstract Poppies

Finish with the dark center

This is my favorite part because when you add these dark centers, you will see the poppies come to life!

With black paint and a medium round brush, dab the paint into the middle of your forward-facing blooms.

Add black to the other flowers’ base where they meet the stem and feather up with a few light strokes.

Watch the Abstract Poppy painting tutorial

I created a quick blue background to my painting, but you can add them to any of your compositions. I have painted this style of poppies many times, and you can see them featured in my Spring Chapel painting.

Shop All Christie’s Painting Tutorials

Make sure you are a member of my FREE Facebook group so you can share all your paintings with the amazing community. I would love to see the abstract poppies you paint!

Stay Creative,