Watercolor for Beginners


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.

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My creative weekly checklist

I wrote out this weekly checklist to make sure I work on all the things I want to cover. I’m a bit of an ambitious list maker! Reality is usually a different story. I feel like I’ve been slacking a little lately. Although, it’s been a crazy couple of weeks with the stomach virus and then the kids off for break. I did finish my acrylic gerbera daisy and a watercolor woodpecker. I’m hoping this checklist will be a good reminder. I’m off to a good start, but it’s only the first day. lol


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


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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




Blue Jay Watercolor

I went out on a limb with this painting. ha ha. Seriously, this was a bit of an experiment and I was hesitant to share it with you. Quite frankly, it didn’t come out great, but I’m on a creative journey (dare I say artistic) and trying new things and growing is part of it.

This painting was inspired by two other blogs. Blogging has been great for me, because it motivates me and holds me accountable. The unexpected positive about blogging is the encouragement I’ve received from others – from total strangers! I have even made a few connections that have motivated and inspired me. The bird was inspired by SweetAfternoons. Alisa (of Sweet Afternoons) has taken the time to offer encouragement and tips, which I’m so grateful for. She motivated me to take another stab at painting Gerbera Daisies. And the second time around, I felt I made real progress.

The background (which I painted first), came from a video tutorial that was posted on inkophile. After watching the video, I realized I needed to use these resources to continue to learn and grow.



Watercolor Gerbera Daisies

Today, I was barely awake, and making my first cup of coffee when I decided to set up the watercolors. There were plenty of things I should have been doing – cleaning the kitchen, laundry, the list goes on. But I decided to ignore all of that stuff and start painting. I decided to try painting my favorite flower the gerbera daisy again. I painted one a few days ago and immediately saw what was wrong with it. But I did get some nice feedback on it (thank you!), which motivated me to try again.

Not quite awake, I almost took a swig of the dirty water, mistaking it for my coffee! But I got into a groove and as I worked, I felt more and more satisfied. It was hard to stop putting finishing touches on them! But finally I said, they are done. I had that “Mom! Look what I made!” feeling. What a great way to start the day. The orange one is my favorite.

orangegerbera pinkgerbera


Intimidated by painting flowers – I decided to let the brush do the work.

Before today, I’ve shied away from paintings flowers. I was intimidated by them, especially roses. Here is my one and only flower painting. (From our Dogwood tree.)

dogwood watercolor

Today, as I was setting up my watercolors, The Company Store catalog caught my eye. I love all the bright patterns in that catalog. On the cover was a graphic flower pattern. It inspired me and I decided to paint flowers. I was probably less intimated because the pattern wasn’t realistic looking flowers.

I really enjoy “warming up” with watercolor (as I like to call it). On my days off, once the lunches are packed, I setup. Once the kids are gone and the house is quiet, I sit and paint with my cup of coffee. More than once I’ve accidentally cleaned my brush in my coffee!

my watercolor setup

Today, as I sat to paint flowers, I decided I’d let the brush do the work. Instead of painting the petal, I just touched the brush to the paper and pulled it up, or in some cases swiped a little. I guess I was channeling that “one stroke flower” painting technique. I even tried having one end of the brush wetter than the other, so the petal was a little different on each end. I was getting the hang of it. It was so fun. Later, when I came home from running errands, I sat and painted more flowers.

flowers2 flowers3

flowers on pink and green

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Warming up with watercolor

On the mornings I have free time to paint, I try to start my day painting with watercolor in my sketchbook. I think of it as a warm up. I have to admit I am falling back in love with watercolor. I love the different options you have, depending on how wet your brush, and the paint are. Every time I do a quick watercolor “sketch” I find myself wanting to work on it more (and cursing the crappy sketchbook paper). But, I’ve spent the last two months exploring acrylic painting and I don’t want to give up on it. I do look forward to the day that I dedicate my time to watercolor. I’ll be warmed up and ready! And I promise to use the right paper.



Ice Cube Watercolor Palette

Ice Cube Tray Palette 2Yesterday, as I set up for my “winter” watercolor I had the best idea. Now, you may not know this but, I recently scrubbed my watercolor palette and set up my paints in the order of the color wheel. Most of the colors were straight from the tube, but I mixed a couple of them. (My palette has sponges that keep the paint from drying out.)

With this setup, I’m ready to paint. I can sit down and paint in my sketchbook without pulling out the tubes and squeezing out paint. The only hiccup is when I need to mix a custom color. I don’t want to dirty my palette! I was able to get away with mixing on a piece of tinfoil, but now I was anticipating mixing several colors. I didn’t want pieces of tinfoil all over the place.

I remembered an ice cube tray, long abandoned, in the back of the corner cabinet, where no one can reach. When I pulled it out, I was excited to see it had 3 rows!

As I rinsed it out, I decided to keep water in the top row. I mixed paint in one of the bottom row cubes. I took some of that paint and put it in the cube above it, and added a little water. Then I cleaned my brush in the top cube – the water cube. I now had, a row of cubes, all the same color, in varying degrees of wetness! Awesome!

I set up rows for the other colors I needed and started painting. It was great. I had 3 options to choose from for each color. It worked like a charm. I’ll use my ice cube palette from now on!