Valentine Flower Hearts (February 2013)

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Having originally intended a completely heart-free Valentine’s Day Art Club this year, I came up with this art project involving not only hearts, but flowers too! My main concern had been my Art Club boys, who I thought might have objected to the ‘girly’ theme, although I do not subscribe to the notion of hearts and flowers being the preserve of girls.

Gary Hume, Two Roses, 2009, Japanese Woodblock Print
Gary Hume, Two Roses, 2009, Japanese Woodblock Print

American artist, Jim Dine (b.1935), has made a career of painting, printing and sculpting hearts, and provided the inspiration for my Valentine ‘Pop’ Hearts project last year.

And there are a great many famous male artists for whom flowers have provided inspiration, from Claude Monet (1840-1926) and Van Gogh (1853-1890) to Gary Hume (b. 1962), whose recent linocut prints and enamel paintings often contain floral motifs.

I needn’t have worried about the boys! They became engrossed in this project without any hesitation and produced some really stunning, detailed drawings.

blog DSCF3532We looked at some photographs of different types of flowers, such as roses, daisies and chrysanthemums, and compared the shape, size and arrangement of the petals.

Then I gave each child a black permanent marker and a sheet of watercolour paper with a heart shape outlined in pencil.

I asked them to fill their heart with detailed drawings of flowers of every shape and size, starting with large blooms, then medium-sized flowers, before filling in the spaces with some tiny flower heads.

To add colour, we used a fun technique using only tissue paper and water, which I call ’tissue paper staining’. Please see my previous posts, Elmer the Patchwork Elephant and Valentine ‘Pop’ Hearts for other projects using the same method .

I provided a selection of discs cut out from tissue paper, in a variety of sizes and colours – yellow orange, red, pink, and magenta.

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The children brushed water over their drawings to dampen the watercolour paper, before placing the tissue paper shapes on the wet surface, carefully selecting colours and sizes to suit their own flower design. Then a little more water was brushed over the top of each coloured disc, to ensure that the tissue was evenly hydrated and stuck down onto the watercolour paper.

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I love the element of surprise in this technique! When the tissue paper dries out (above left), it flakes away and lifts off the surface, leaving only its colour behind (above right). The colours also bleed into each other, creating a delicate effect almost like watercolours. 

Heart-shaped paper mounts transformed the drawings into Valentine’s Day cards. Please click through the gallery below to view all of the children’s beautiful floral hearts…



  1. Oh dear! That must have been frustrating and time-consuming! I should have said in my post that it’s important to test the tissue paper first to check if it releases its colour before you start. I’ve never come across tissue that doesn’t – maybe it’s a US thing…?

  2. I did this project this year in my art club, I had a similar issue with the tissue paper as mama cormier. Luckily, one of my schools had Bleeding Tissue paper, so I was able to use it. ( I called it Bleeding Hearts) Another quick fix is to pre color the flowers with watercolor crayons to increase the color. What an amazing technique. I’m definitely going to use it again, I’m thinking a project in the spring, Bleeding Rainbows.

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