Watercolor for Beginners


In a beachy kind of mood

I am really looking forward to summer. I’m a beach girl, so naturally I love painting anything that has to do with the beach.

Here are the steps I took to paint my crab:
1. After sketching the crab, I wet the background and added paint. I really love doing the background first. I think I feel more free to play with the watercolor, adding splotchy areas and even flicking spots on it. I tried hard to make it look like sand.

2. I worked on the crab, adding in the red parts on the claws and legs and the dots to the shell. It still needs work, it looks too flat, like it’s one with the background.

3. I added shadows under the crab and to the shell added shadows and more details.
I added even more detail to arrive at the final crab.

I was inspired by fellow blogger, Sara Gourley’s painting of a blue crab. I decided to paint one that looks like the kind of crabs we see at the beaches around here.

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Painting outside :)

painting outside
I’ve been looking forward to this for a while – painting outside! We finally got a huge umbrella to cover the patio, so the other day, when the weather was beautiful, I grabbed my stuff and set up outside. Being outside gives me the opportunity to paint “live,” as opposed to from a picture, which is what I usually do. I think it’s harder and I need the practice.


Trying again – watercolor bird’s nest

I’d like to know which one YOU like better. This second attempt at a bird’s nest or the one I posted the other day and labeled “overworked.” When I was done the second painting, I pulled out the original one and guess what? I thought it was better! I ended up adding more to the background of the new one. I’m curious what you think? Please let me know. 🙂

The first one:

Here are my steps for the second nest:
newnest1 newnest2 newnest3 newnest4newnest5newnestfinal



To Post or Not to Post

I overworked my bird’s nest painting. It’s sad to say. I thought, “Post or not?” Aww, why not? I should have stopped touching the background several steps back, but it is what it is. Lesson learned for next time – I hope. Looking back, I think the problem from the beginning was the background was so loose and the nest so tight. Without realizing it, I think I was trying to reconcile that. I also struggled with giving the nest depth. And I didn’t have the right robin’s egg color, so the color of the eggs is washed out. I would have loved a bright pop for the eggs.
step1nest step2nest
I like the background below.


Practicing painting pansies and other things…

Throughout the day I kept being pulled back to “practicing painting pansies” (say that 10x fast). My intention was to dedicate the day to acrylics – why was it so hard to do that?

I started with a quick warm up sketch. Then, I started playing with the pansies in watercolor. I kept finding excuses not to start with the acrylics – breakfast, more coffee, stripping the sheets off the beds – lol! Finally I forced myself into my studio and started painting.

First I started adding branches to my “sunrise trees” painting. (Inspired by my other tree painting.)

Then I pulled out my “jellyfish”! It has been awhile. I’m not sure I’ll ever finish this one, but I like what I’ve added to it.

Why was it so hard to get into the “acrylic groove?” Watercolors are easy to pull out and work on (and easy to put away). Acrylics require more setup and clean up. Is it that? Or is it that I’m not that inspired by the ones I’m working on? Or maybe I’m more confident with the watercolor? And somewhat intimidated by the acrylics? Whatever it is, I plan on pushing through.


Watercolor Sea Turtle

sea turtle
This week I painted a sea turtle. No not another bird! I’ve been starting with the background first (since I watched that video). Here are my steps. I painted a lighter green before the blue, which shows in some areas.

seaturtle1 seaturtle2
This isn’t my first deep sea creature. I painted this shark years ago for my son. Have I grown since then? Hmmm.


Watercolor Woodpecker


Another watercolor bird! The other day I was trying to decide what paint, when I heard the woodpecker in the yard. Since finishing my daisy, I’ve haven’t felt very motivated. I’ve had a similar feeling to when you finish a good book and need a break before starting the next one.

Woodpecker steps:
Starting, with inspiration nearby.
When I added the dark areas (picture to the right), I held the paper up to let the paint run and create the grooves in the bark.

woodpecker2 woodpecker3woodpecker5



Beach girl – working on an illustration style


girl at the beach

A couple of years I go I did this sketch of a girl (my daughter) at the beach. I love how loose it is. I love the movement. I aspire to be a children’s book illustrator, or at least develop a children’s book style, and I think this sketch is a step towards my style. I want to fully develop this beach girl character.

Here are sketches of my sons (also from a couple of years ago).

boybeach littleboybeach

A year or so prior to this, I worked on developing an illustration style for I book I had written, “The Claddagh Fairy.” Although it was a great exercise and experience, I don’t think the illustration style is fully “me.” It isn’t loose enough, too much computer. But maybe it was me at the time, just not now.

I did this sketch this week. Definitely needs work, but I’m excited to play and work on developing my characters. I’ve watched some great videos and now have concrete ways to go about it.

beach kids

Lynne Chapman (How to draw a child’s face)
Shoo Rayner – Drawing School (How to design Children’s Book Characters)

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Watercolor Cardinal

I decided to try and paint another bird. We watched the cardinals all winter, so it was an obvious choice. I placed the cardinal in our birch, which has a pinkish tone. I had a lot of fun painting very wet, letting things happen without a lot of control.

Watercolor cardinal

I started by painting the background, which is what I did when I painted the Blue Jay. Painting the background first is very different for me. It was a fun project and I am happy with the results.

cardinal1 cardinal2