Pretty Painted Frames

Thrift stores are the bomb-dot-com!  I visit them frequently to pick up picture frames for the piles of paintings I have stored in my art room.

Never seen a frame like this in the thrift store?  Me neither..... this one was gold when I found it.  But it had such beautiful molding on it.  I knew it just had to be painted white.  So yes, it does involve some searching and some work, but it's totally worth it :)

Paint a thrift store frame to decorate your home!

I actually found the pair of these perfectly girly!

If you've never painted a frame before... don't be scared.  It's not hard.  I start by removing the backing and glass, then lightly sanding and washing the dust off the frames.  I give them one coat of primer, let them dry, then give them a coat or two of the final color.  You can use latex interior house paint, spray paint, or even acrylic craft paint. Pretty easy!

thrifted white picture frames

Here's another originally-gold-frame..... painted in one of my favorite colors.... a bright aqua! 

Turquoise painted thrifted picture frame with watercolor cactus
watercolor bird in thrifted white frame

Where do you get frames?  I've bought some at Ross in the past and they have decent prices, but none of them had the personality these babies had.  It's all about the can fix the color later on.

Scribbled Heart Valentine's Cards

Cookie Cutter Stencil Scribbled Hearts Cards

One of my favorite holidays is approaching!  Hooray for Valentine's Day and all the love shared because of it!

I'm sure I've already written about how much I love home made cards, but I'll write it again.... they're awesome!  They may not look as professional, but there's more care that's gone into them.  

I posted a fun Watercolor Resist Card Idea last year, but I didn't want to make the same cards again.  So I came up with Scribbled Heart Cards instead.  This is another one you can do with the kiddos!

Cookie Cutter Stencil Scribbled Hearts Cards

Scribbled Heart Cards Tutorial

Heart Shaped Cookie Cutter or Stencil
Crayons, Pens, Markers, Colored Pencils- whatever you like!

Step 1:  Lay a cookie cutter or stencil down on top of some paper and hold it down tightly with your hands.  You don't want it moving for the next step.

Heart Cookie Cutter and Crayons Card

Step 2:  Using a crayon, marker, pen, or colored pencil, scribble around inside of the cookie cutter.  Fill in the entire space.  You can even get crazy and use several different colors on the same heart.

Heart Cookie Cutter and Crayons Card
Heart Cookie Cutter and Crayons Card

Step 3:  Remove the cookie cutter to see your awesome scribbled heart!  Add a fun Valentine's message and other embellishments if desired. 

Cookie Cutter Stencil Scribbled Hearts Cards
Cookie Cutter Stencil Scribbled Hearts Cards

Happy Card Making!

Photos of the Week

ice crystals on a branch
winter tree with frost
ice crystals on a branch

Good morning!  We had some heavy fog last week that covered everything in these amazing ice crystals. So fun to photograph!  All the trees looked so beautiful in the morning sunlight before the sun melted the frost away.

Winter is long, but I do ok as long as I can see the sun often..... and have play dates with friends, phone calls from family, good food to eat, and good movies to watch.  My house is also a lot cleaner in the winter..... I sometimes clean when I get bored.... is that weird?  What do you do to keep sane in the winter?

How to Watercolor: Q&A

Thanks for following along with my How to Watercolor Series!  It's been fun!  I've gotten a few questions over the course of the past few weeks that I'd like to answer here.  So here's your Q&A session!

Do you ever use a Silhoutte Portrait/Cameo to do your drawing? I'm not an artist, so I'm hoping to use mine to "cheat" and would love some tips.

I don't own a Silhouette Portrait or Cameo so no, I don't use one for drawing.  I use some other tricks though that makes things easier.  I frequently use plastic stencils. 

I also use a pencil transfer method- like I used for my watercolor portraits.  I print out my image, fill the back side in with pencil, then flip it right side up on top of my watercolor paper and trace the outlines.  It's really easy to do! 

If you don't want to go the to work of filling in the back side with pencil, you can also hold your paper up to a window while it's light outside.  You can trace it that way, but I will warn you, you arm will get tired!
I was gifted watercolor pencils, had no idea they were watercolor pencils until I spilled some water on my paper one day! Any ideas how to work with those or a good way to start?

I really have no experience with watercolor pencils- but I want to try them out sometime!

I did, however, find a video and an article that should help you out:
Could you share another photo of your brushes? A close up of the bristles? I went to Utrecht last night looking for brushes, and they said that watercolor brushes aren't typically referred to by number (even though all the brushes I looked at were clearly numbered - so confusing!) It would help to know what to look for. Thank you! 

Sorry about the confusion with sizes. I bought my brushes so long ago that I didn't remember what size the actual bristles are.  That's why I listed mine by number.  I think the numbers are relative to this brand.  The numbers and sizes of brushes vary depending on the brand.

As far as I understand, brushes are typically referred to by the width of the bristles.  I measured mine for you here.

Flat: 1 inch and 3/8 inch

Round: 1/2 inch, 3/8 inch, 1/4 inch.

 Do you ever use hot press paper? I'm actually taking a Craftsy watercolor course, and the instructor wants you to use hot press paper. I have looked at four different art supplies/craft stores in town and no one carries it at all. Weird. 

I experimented with some hot press paper when I took my first watercolor class years ago, but never liked it much and haven't used it again. I know you can find it at the Utrecht Store if you have one if your area, or you can buy it online.

How to Watercolor: Still Life

How to Paint a Pear Still Life: beginner watercolor tutorial

Ready to try a watercolor still life? This is a jump from my previous tutorials, but you only really learn to watercolor by actually painting something.  

It's hard for me to really explain how I paint.  A lot of it is intuitive.  Everyone develops their own methods and style as they learn to paint.  The best I can do is to break it down to show you the progression of my painting and explain what I did along the way.

So please don't get discouraged if your first attempt doesn't look like mine.  My first attempt looked nothing like this.  It's taken me LOTS of practice to get to this level and even then I still have mess-ups.

Pear Still Life Watercolor Painting Tutorial

Pear or picture of a pear- you can use the one I have below.
Watercolor Paper
Watercolor Paints
Paint Brushes
Drawing Pencil

For a more detailed description of materials check out my watercolor materials post.

green pear

Step 1:  Looking at an actual pear, or a pear picture, draw a light outline sketch of it on a sheet of watercolor paper. Personally, I find it easier working in small scale- so I drew mine on a 5x7 sheet of paper, but you can use any size you like.

Pear Drawing

Step 2:  Apply your first light wash of paint leaving white spaces for the brightest highlights of the pear. This pear is mostly green, but the lightest parts of it are actually yellow- so that's the color I started with.

Remember that you are working from the lightest parts to the darkest.  It's better to err on the side of using too little paint at the beginning  because you can always add more on later.  If you apply heavy dark paint from the beginning it's really hard to fix.

How to paint a watercolor pear

I've circled the parts I painted around to leave white space on my painting and the corresponding spots on the pear photo.  White space in watercolor painting is really important.  A watercolor with no white space comes off looking flat.  So don't be too hasty with the first layer- remember the white space!

How to paint a watercolor pear

Step 3:  After the first wash has dried (you need to allow drying time between each wash), apply a second light wash (I added a tiny bit of green to the yellow color I used on the previous wash).   Make sure to paint around the highlight spaces so they stay white and also paint around the next lightest spots.  This is hard to explain, but you are painting around the the light spots to build it gradually darker and darker.  It takes some time to get used to thinking and painting that way.  

How to paint a watercolor pear
How to paint a watercolor pear

Step 4:  Add a third wash of green, again leaving the highlights white and painting around the next lightest areas.  This time I added a hint of brown at the top of the pear and a couple of golden yellow spots where I saw yellow on the pear.

Your pear should be starting to look more three dimensional.  Leaving the highlights white and building in the darker shades gives it depth.

How to paint a watercolor pear

Step 5: With slightly more saturated green paint, apply another wash, leaving white space as before.  I really got the shadows built up more with this wash. I applied heavier paint on the left side and the very bottom of the pear where the darker shadows are.

How to paint a watercolor pear

Step 6:  Add more green to the shadows and fill in the stem of the pear with a light wash of brown.

How to paint a watercolor pear

Step 7:  This was my final wash, but depending on how dark your previous washes were, you made need additional washes to get more saturated hues for the shadows.

To finish off the look of the pear, I filled in the shadows of the brown stem and added some more texture to the body of the pear by dipping the end of my paintbrush in green paint and dotting it on the pear.  Real pears have visible dots on them, so this texture technique gives it more life.

How to paint a watercolor pear

That's it! We're all done!  Just let your masterpiece dry and don't forget to sign.

Do you have any questions for me? I've written this as clearly as I could so I hope it makes sense to you all. I'm doing a Question and Answer post in a few days, so feel free to ask me anything about this post or any other of my How To Watercolor Posts.

Also, you can check out some affordable watercolor pear prints in my Shop!

Photos of the Week

duck on a pond
frozen lake landscape

We took a little trip to our favorite lake last week.  It was almost totally frozen, but still beautiful!  It was fun just to get out of the house for a bit and get some sun.

Sometimes I think I would like to be a world traveler.  I can imagine myself going everywhere with my camera taking pictures of absolutely everything.  That would be awesome! Maybe that will happen one day, but for now I'm happy to be a mother and to have the best job in the whole world...... taking care of my kid!

Thank you for your kind comments and thoughts from last week's post.  It has been a rough time for our family, but I have hope for our future and if anything, these trials make me appreciate the child I do have that much more.

How to Watercolor: Color Mixing

Watercolor Paint Mixing Chart

Now that you've learned some techniques for creating washes and textures with watercolors, you need to learn a little bit about color mixing..... and I have a really cool project you can practice this with.  

It's not your typical color wheel.  It's a color chart!  It takes some time to make, but it's great for beginners and it really helps you figure out how to get the colors you want.

 Here's the chart I made way back in my college days:

Color Mixing Chart

Large sheet of watercolor paper (mine is about 16 in x 14 in)
Long ruler
Watercolor Paints

Set-up:  First take stock of how many different colors of paint you have.  With a pencil and a ruler, you are going to create 1-inch squares with the number of each paint color along the top and the left side of your paper, making a grid.  See below.  I had 13 colors, so I measured 13 1-inch  spaces along the top and 13 1-inch spaces along the left side.

  • On the top, number from left to right- assigning each square a number. 
  • On the left side, number from top to bottom.

Make sure to leave some blank space on the right side of your paper- to the right of the grid.  You'll use this space to list your colors.
How to make a color chart

I've circled the beginning three numbers for the top and the side in the picture below.

How to make a color chart

Along the right side, assign each paint color a number and list them vertically.  This is your key- your reference for mixing your colors.

Each color's number will correspond with the numbers on the grid- both on the top and the left side.

How to make a color chart

Now on to the fun part.... mixing!  For this chart you will never mix more than two colors at a time. The point of it is to mix every color with every color- equal parts of each- to get all the combinations possible- with mixing two colors.

Row #1

  • Start with your first color, the one you have assigned to your #1 spot on your list. In my case, I had Cobalt Violet.  That's the color that will go in your square labeled with a #1 on the top and a #1 on the left side. You don't need to mix this one, since it is the same color for both sides.  Just paint a nice even wash of your #1 color in that square.
  • For the square directly to the right of the first one- the one with a #2 above it- you will mix the second color on your list with your #1 color- since it is on the same row (row #1 on the left side).  So for me, I mixed equal amounts of Phthalo Blue and Cobalt Violet.
  • Continue across to the right, with box #3.  Mix your third color with your first color and then continue on to the right, filling each square with the right combinations, according to the numbers on the grid. This way, your first row will be all the variations of every color mixed with your first color.  
  • Make sure to mix equal amounts of each color with equal amounts of water for each box.  Also allow the squares some drying time, so they don't run into each other.  Use a blow dryer if you get impatient.

How to make a color chart

Row #2

Once your first row is done, start with your second.  You don't need to mix your #1 color with your # 2 color here, because you already did that in the first row.  So start on the second square over- in my case that was Pthalo Blue.

Mix Phthalo blue with the corresponding colors for each square.

How to make a color chart

Paint each square with its corresponding mixed colors for each row until your chart is finished!  The beginning squares of each row with have repeat mixtures from the previous rows, so you don't have to paint those ones again.

You'll end up with a triangle shape- like my chart below.  It's fun to look at all the shades and compare them. So many colors! It also works as a piece of abstract art!

How to mix paint colors
watercolor paint mixing chart

I hope this complicated chart makes sense to you.  Let me know if you have any questions on this post or any others from my How to Watercolor Series!

Up next.... still life painting!

How to Watercolor: Textures

Welcome to the second week of my How to Watercolor Series!  I hope you are all having fun with this so far...... I know I am!

Watercolor Textures

One of the funnest parts of watercoloring is creating textures!  I really really love to just play around with these.  There are so many possibilities.  Adding texture really adds interest and personality to a painting.  

Watercolor Textures

 I've made a tutorial for you to try out 8 different textures, but do not feel limited by these.  Go ahead and try anything you can think of.  You can combine methods or use kitchen utensils to get some really cool textures.

Watercolor Textures Tutorial

Large sheet of watercolor paper
Masking Tape
Watercolor Paints
Epsom Salts- if you don't have any on hand you can even use rock salt or table salt
Plastic Wrap

Set-Up:  Use masking tape to create 8 equal sections on a large sheet of watercolor paper.  Also tape the paper down to a table or drawing board. You'll be trying out a different method for creating texture in each space- so at the end you will have tried 8 different textures.

Watercolor Textures Chart

Load up some paint on your brush and hold it close to your paper.  Use a finger to quickly lift up the bristles of the brush a little at a time.  This quick motion flicks the paint all over the paper and creates a spattering or spraying effect.   Pretty cool!

Watercolor Splattering

For this method you'll want to load up a lot of paint and a lot of water on your brush.  Then you can hold your brush directly over your paper and let the paint drip from your brush down onto the paper.  You can even tilt the paper in different directions while the paint is still wet.   It's fun to watch it run.

Watercolor Paint Drips
Watercolor Textures Chart

Brush on a quick and fairly wet wash of paint.  Immediately sprinkle epsom, table, or rock salts on top and let it dry.  Once the paint is dry you can scrape off the salt.  I love the texture this creates.  The salt soaks up water leaving cool little dots all over.

Salt on Watercolor Texture

Plastic Wrap:
Brush on a wash of paint and place a piece of wrinkled plastic wrap on top.  Press down with your fingers and let dry.  This will create shapes wherever the plastic wrap is touching the paper.

Watercolor Plastic Wrap Texture
Watercolor Textures Chart

Water Dripping:
Paint on a wash of watercolor and then with a clean brush, drip spots of water onto the wash.  The water washes back into the paint creating what artists call a backwash.

watercolor paint backwash

Lay a wash of paint down on paper and scrape through it with a fork or butter knife.  This will create lines in the soft paper allowing the paint to collect in the indentations.

(A word of caution on this one- Please only use an old fork or knife that will not be used for eating with later.  Watercolor paints can have toxins in their pigments- so designate this utensil only for painting with, not eating, after this project.)

watercolor texture fork scraping
Watercolor Textures Chart

Dip a clean sponge in some wet paint and dab it onto the paper.  You can play with layering several colors this way.

watercolor sponge texture

Apply wet paint to a stamp with a brush and press the stamp onto the paper. You can mix colors and layer with this method. It's really fun!

watercolor stamp texture
Watercolor Textures Chart

Leave the tape on the paper until the paint is dry and then gently pull it off.  You are done!  You can label each texture technique with a pen if desired.

Watercolor Textures
Watercolor Textures Chart