Poppies are vibrant flowers with distinct black centres and papery petals. They are a member of the Papaver family of flowers. Poppies grow in a wide variety of colours, including red and orange, and generally have four to six large petals and a dark centre of pollen. Artists paint flowers such as poppies using many different paint media, but it can take a significant amount of practice to achieve the desired result. It is helpful to use a picture for reference and to take note of the colour tones in the flowers you are re-creating.
Choose both a well-lit reference picture with good examples of light and shade, and the medium of paint you wish to work with. Lay the newspaper down to protect your workspace.
Sketch or trace the poppies from your reference picture onto your canvas. If you are sketching them freehand, remember that poppy flowers curve up into a wide cup shape.
Cover the petals with a thin, light wash of colour. Choose this colour based on the colour of the flowers you are re-creating. This forms the base of the poppies, onto which you can add different colours and small details. If using watercolours, this light wash can be created with the addition of ample water.
Select the additional colours for your painting. Choose these based upon the shades of light and dark in your reference picture, and using both warm and cool shades will help to add depth. For example, poppies with a base wash of light blue can be augmented with shades of violet, lilac and even pink.
Observing the colours of the poppies in your picture, begin adding layers of your chosen paint colours. Reflect the areas where the light hits the poppies with lighter colours, and areas of the poppies that are shaded with darker colours. Because the petals are slightly crinkled, they will have many small grooves that can be indicated with thin lines of darker shades.
Continue to adjust the colours of the poppies based upon your reference picture. As a general rule, the colour of flowers will grow lighter toward the outer edge of the petals where they are thinnest. This could be reflected by a gradual, thin layer of pink on top of a redder base, for example. Working the brush from both the outside edge inward, and the centre outwards, will help to suggest form.
Input the fine details. Add soft lines in a dark variation of your base colour, working from the centre to the outside edge, to give the poppies depth. Paint the centre of the poppies in the appropriate colour, and add a dark shade of your base colour around the centre to suggest depth.
Fill in the stems with a few shades of green. Make sweeping strokes with a thin paintbrush, using a darker green toward the top of the stems where the petals will likely be casting a shadow. As you did with the poppy petals, reflect areas of light and shade with lighter and darker colours. Study the distinctive serrated leaves of the poppy and render them with various shades of a greyish green.
Fill in any desired background. Allow the painting to dry and, if desired, go back to add any additional details or colours to the poppies.