Watercolor Cactus Painting Series – Prickly Pear Cactus With Brusho Crystals

by Volta

Happy Color Snack Sunday, friends!

watercolor cactus painting - easy tutorial prickly pear cactus with brusho crystals

Today we’ll continue with the watercolor cactus series using brusho crystals. Up next, we have the prickly pear cactus. It’s one of my favorite cactus shapes because I just love the little ears that you can sketch. Makes for a fun and playful experience.

If you missed the first part, you can read and watch the tutorial here.

Just a reminder, this  watercolor cactus paintings series includes tutorials on how to sketch 3 different types of cacti, all using the watercolor brusho powders. The final sketch in the series will bring all of those watercolor cactus skills together into a fun composition. So stay tuned for that!

Happy Sketching!

(some of these posts may contain affiliate links, which are at no extra charge to you, but help me keep running this blog)

Watercolor Cactus Painting Series – Prickly Pear Cactus With Brusho Crystals – Quick Instructional Video

Watercolor Supplies:

    • brusho powder watercolors
      • colors used in this tutorial:
    • Bristol paper
    • Water brush
    • Pencil for a quick outline sketch
    • Paper towel/towel
    • Reference photo of a saguaro cactus
    • Your creativity


Let’s get to sketchin’!

How to Paint a Watercolor Cactus Using Brusho Crystals: Prickly Pear

A quick note about brusho – if you’re not familiar with these powders they are pretty much magical and I hope you get some to play with because they are so much fun. They are essentially watercolor paints ground up into a powder that you can create different effects with. I often like to play with brusho to relax or unwind because they are so freeing and unpredictable.

Step 1. Start sketching the prickly pear cactus.

Begin your prickly pear cactus by sketching a base, in the shape of a petal or ear. Start adding more shapes stemming off of the main shape. Think of these shapes as ovals that are slightly pinched at the bottom. By the way, I am doing these brusho paintings on bristol paper because I like how resilient and smooth it is. And it’s perfect for these sketches. But your standard watercolor paper will work as well.

Step 2. Keep adding more shapes to your cactus sketch.

Keep adding more similar but smaller shapes onto your cactus. I think these little cactus ears are super fun and having a variety of sizes makes for an interesting sketch.

Step 3. Start adding water

With your waterbrush pen, start adding water inside your sketch. Add a few drops (2-3) and then spread that out inside of your prickly pear cactus shape.
Note: you want to make sure you have plenty of water on your sketch because that will facilitate the brusho crystals to travel around easily. My water turned out a bit yellow in color because I didn’t clean off my brush properly. But this is ok when using brusho because the pigmented crystals we’ll add will cover that up.

Step 4. Start adding brusho watercolor crystals

Start by shaking some of the brusho onto your shape. You can play around with the proportions to your liking. In this sketch, I am using blue and red colors.

Step 5. Outline your cactus

After you’ve added enough brusho, go in with a tiny waterbrush (I am using the smallest size from my Mozart waterbrush set) and draw the outlines of your cactus. This will help smooth out any inconsistencies and create a nice unified cactus shape with some shadow included from the lines you’re adding.


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