RECIPE: Flower Infused Sugar

RECIPE: Flower Infused Sugar #diycraftchallenge #herbs #infusion #diy

While out and about last week, I slipped into a local bookstore to browse for a few minutes. With no intention of buying anything, I of course walked out with a new book, Herbal Goddess by Amy Jirsa. The book is filled with gorgeous photos of herbal remedies, recipes and potions. Amy discusses 12 of her favorite herbs, how they effect the mind, body, spirit and pairs each one with a yoga pose. I was hooked!

I’ve been looking for new ways to incorporate some of my favorite herbs into my cooking, particularly roses. So I decided to try out Amy’s recipe for infusing sugar. For fun, I chose three different (edible) flowers to try: rose, lavender and chamomile.

RECIPE: Flower Infused Sugar #diycraftchallenge #herbs #infusion #diy

Flower Infused Sugar
 
Author:
Recipe type: Infusion
Serves: 2 cups
Ingredients
  • • ⅓ cup dried herbs or edible flowers
  • • 2 cups organic sugar (white or brown)
Instructions
  1. Pour herbs into a quart size mason jar. Cover with two cups of sugar and close with a lid. Give it a good shake and let sit in a cool, dry place for two weeks (giving it a good shake every day).

 

RECIPE: Flower Infused Sugar #diycraftchallenge #herbs #infusion #diy

More infusions to try:

Vanilla, citrus (lemon, lime, orange), ginger, rosemary, mint

Use your infused sugar just like you would regular sugar! Sweeten your tea or coffee, use it to bake cookies and cakes, and have fun experimenting!

RECIPE: Flower Infused Sugar #diycraftchallenge #herbs #infusion #diy

RECIPE: Frida’s Guacamole with Chipotle Peppers

RECIPE: Frida's Guacamole with Chipotle Peppers #recipe #fridakahlo

If I could have dinner with anyone in history, it would be Frida Kahlo and I would want her to cook! A few years ago I treated myself to a copy of the book, Frida’s Fiestas: Recipes and Reminiscences of Life with Frida Kahlo by Guadalupe Rivera (Diego Rivera‘s daughter) and Marie-Pierre Colle (a Mexican-French journalist). The book is organized by month and includes 12 of Frida’s dinner menus along with stories about Frida and Diego’s life together. This book is bursting with wonderful photos of Frida and the delicious food she loved to make. I’ve poured over the recipes in this book for years, but have been too afraid to try anything, worrying about tracking down the right ingredients.

RECIPE: Frida's Guacamole with Chipotle Peppers #recipe #fridakahlo

Finally, I spotted a simple recipe for guacamole and new I had to try it! I tried to follow Frida’s recipe exactly with the exception of adding lime juice. I had never thought of using chipotle peppers instead of jalapeño in my guacamole, but the result was delicious!

The Recipe

Start by placing 4 chipotle chiles in a small bowl and pouring hot water over the top. Let stand for 10 minutes.

RECIPE: Frida's Guacamole with Chipotle Peppers #recipe #fridakahlo

Next slice the avocados in half and remove the pits. I mashed two avocados and left the other two in cubes. Chop up the onion, tomato and cilantro. Drain water from chiles and chop. Place all ingredients in a bowl and stir until combined. Season with salt (to taste).

RECIPE: Frida's Guacamole with Chipotle Peppers #recipe #fridakahlo

Notes: I also added a squeeze of 1/2 a lime and about 1 tablespoon of the adobe sauce from the chiles.

RECIPE: Frida's Guacamole with Chipotle Peppers #recipe #fridakahlo

Guacamole with Chipotle Peppers
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Adapted from the book, Frida's Fiestas by Guadalupe Rivera.
Author:
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: 8 servings
Ingredients
  • 4 ripe but firm avocados, peeled
  • ½ medium onion, chopped
  • 1 large tomato, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • 4 chipotle chiles in marinade, chopped
  • Salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Soak the chiles in hot water for 10 minutes, combine all the ingredients and mix well.
  2. Note: I also added a squeeze of ½ a lime and about 1 tablespoon of the adobe sauce from the chiles.

RECIPE: Frida's Guacamole with Chipotle Peppers #recipe #fridakahlo
RECIPE: Frida's Guacamole with Chipotle Peppers #recipe #fridakahlo

I hope you’ll be inspired to try this recipe tomorrow for Cinco de Mayo!

May DIY Challenge: Flowers

May DIY Challenge: Flowers! #craft #diycraftchallenge #spring
Sources left to right: Fabric Covered Flower Pots by Ashley Ann, Pom Pom Bouquet by Camille Styles, Pressed Flowers by Sweet Paul, Paper Ranunculi by Brit+Co, Seed Starts in Cupcake Tins by Tuinieren, Spring Paper Flower Garland by Lia Griffith, Edible Flower Cookies by Pretty Prudent, Felt Roses by Pretty Petals, Book Paper Flowers by 100 Layer Cake, Spring Flower Bowls by Martha Stewart, Spring Kitten Flower Cookies by Lookie Boo, Pretty Lace Flower Pots by A Beautiful Mess.

May DIY Challenge: Flowers

This month we are officially celebrating the spring season with Flowers! Flowers are such a beautiful, versatile subject so we are excited to see what YOU make this month. Whether you are planting seeds in your garden, baking flower cookies for a party or making a flower inspired art or craft project, we invite you to share it with us!

HOW TO ENTER

Click here for details on how to enter your project to the DIY Challenge! Don’t forget to share your projects with everyone on Instagram using #diycraftchallenge.

The challenge officially begins today, May 1, 2015 and ends on May 29th, 2015. We will post our favorite projects + announce the award winners on May 31st. Have fun and happy crafting!

Need more inspiration?

Take a look out our Pinterest board for more flower inspired project ideas.

April DIY Challenge Results!

We had a lot of fun experimenting with watercolor this month. We shared basic supplies, beginner techniques, and experimented in new ways. Of course, our favorite part of the Monthly DIY Challenge is to see what YOU come up with. We were so impressed with everyone’s projects that we’ve decided to award all the submissions!

DIY Challenge Award: Most Inspiring

These whimsical florals painted on old book pages by Aline of Paris, France are just beautiful! We just love her playful style.

April DIY Challenge Results #adventuresinmaking #diycraftchallenge

I love art and craft activities and I have a blog where I post some of my work. I decided to work on this project thanks to one of the inspiration images you posted on your blog!

I like using old paper to paint on and since I had a very old book, I decided to use it and paint some floral and natural ornaments because i love drawing nature. – Aline Savan

DIY Challenge Award: Most Useful

Donna’s watercolor bookmarks are so cute and functional. We love how she experimented with the wax resist technique! Check out a full tutorial of her process on her blog.

April DIY Challenge Results #adventuresinmaking #diycraftchallenge

Though I’ve tinkered with watercolors over the years, I wasn’t inspired for this challenge until I learned that April is also National Public Library Month in the US. I had the idea to combine the two and use some simple, yet creative watercolor techniques to make some colorful bookmarks. These watercolor bookmarks are easy to make and a great project for everyone in the family to enhance their enjoyment of reading! – Donna Heron

DIY Challenge Award: Best Practice

This floral bunny silhouette created by Zakkiya of Doha, Qatar is absolutely stunning! Zakkiya is an illustrator and founder of design and illustration company, Inkstruck Studio. You can follow more of her work on Instagram and twitter.

zakkiya-floral-watercolor-silhouette-tutorial

Watercolor is one of my favorite mediums to work with so I got all excited when I saw the theme for this month’s DIY challenge. One of the reasons I created this was to help beginner artists learn an easy way to paint. Generally, it’s all the tiny details that intimidate beginners (I was when I started off). So I decided on creating a silhouette of an animal. In this case a bunny. But instead of leaving it plain and boring, I added floral elements inside thus forming the shape of a bunny but with all floral goodness. The flowers are far from realistic, so even a watercolor novice can attempt and create this. – Zakkiya Hamza

DIY Challenge Award: Most Thoughtful

We were oohing and ahhing over Angela’s twisted vines and handwritten words. Angela wanted to create a piece of art that expressed what her family stands for. What a creative way to display family values!

April DIY Challenge Results #adventuresinmaking #diycraftchallenge

I live in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. I have been making things for as long as I can remember. I have dabbled in carving, sketching, painting, fibre arts and many other mediums. Lately I am in love with yarn, craft and have renewed my passion for painting. It is my dream to start a business that provides retail for local makers and have space for fellow makers to take workshops, as well as have studio space for makers to use our equipment or try out new stuff. – Angela Reddekopp

Thank you for participating in the April DIY Challenge! For those of you who wished they could have joined in the fun, never fear! Our May DIY Challenge begins tomorrow!

DIY: Watercolor Mother’s Day Card + Free Printable

DIY: Watercolor Mother's Day Card + Printable

Mother’s Day is coming up and I’ve been itching for another watercolor project to play with so I decided to try making a fun little “MOM” painting that could double as framable art or a greeting card. I invite you to make your own version using the steps below as a guideline. I’m also offering a free printable greeting card for download!

Step 1: Sketch Letters

Using a ruler, pencil and eraser lightly sketch out letters ” M O M “.

DIY: Watercolor Mother's Day Card + Printable

Step 2: Paint flowers

Then with a fine tip watercolor brush, fill the letters with little flowers and leaves. Take your time with this (I worked on it while watching Alias on Netflix). To start, I painted a few flowers first, then filled the areas around the flowers with leaves and vines.

DIY: Watercolor Mother's Day Card + Printable

Continue this process until you’ve filled in all three letters.

DIY: Watercolor Mother's Day Card + Printable

Click Here To Download A Free Printable Mother’s Day Card

Download the PDF and print out onto white card stock. Cut out and fold in half where indicated on the template. Pair with an A1 size envelope and give to your mom for Mother’s Day!

10 Handmade Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

Mother’s Day is coming up and that means it’s time to start brainstorming gift ideas. We believe the best gifts are handmade (especially when they’re for mom). We’ve dug through our archives and gathered 10 DIY projects we know our moms would love to receive. We hope you’ll find inspiration in these ideas and make something your mom will truly love and appreciate!

1. Sweet Slumber Tea Blend

Because who can resist a hot cup of their favorite tea. Mix together a custom blend using your mother’s favorite herbs!
sweet-slumber-tea-5

2. ‘Cat Nap’ Eye Pillow

Every mother needs time to rest and relax. Help her find peace of mind with her very own eye pillow. Bonus: Cat loving moms everywhere will love this!
DIY: 'Cat Nap' Eye Pillows + Free Sewing Pattern #craft #herbal

3. Pressed Herb Candle

Make a beautiful pressed-herb candle using your mother’s favorite scents.
DIY: Pressed Herb Candles #gift #handmade

4. Hand-Printed Gift Wrap

You’ve found the perfect gift, all you need now is the perfect wrapping. Add some extra love and make your own hand-printed gift wrap.
Hand-Printed Gift Wrap

5. Paper Fringe Flowers

Who doesn’t love flowers? Try making these paper fringe flowers using recycled materials and show mom how resourceful you are.
DIY Fringe Flowers

6. Mermaid Bath Salts

Bath salts are easy to make and give. Pair it with a bottle of her favorite wine and she can enjoy an ultimate night of pampering. Earn extra brownie points by offering to clean her bath tub!
DIY: Mermaid Bath Salts

7. Strawberry Pin Cushion

The perfect gift for any quilter. You could also fill it with herbs to make a sachet!
Handmade Strawberry Pin Cushions #sewing #gift

8. Herbal Sachets

Speaking of sachets….
DIY: Herbal Sachet Pillow + Free Sewing Pattern #tutorial #spring #craft

9. Heart-shape Soy Candles

Because you can never have too many. Show mom some love with a heart-shaped soy candle.
DIY Heart Soy Candles

10. Love Letter Book

Bring a tear of joy to your mother’s eye with a sweet little book of thank you’s just for her.
DIY Love Letter Book

BOOK REVIEW: Make It Mighty Ugly by Kim Werker

Book Review: Make It Mighty Ugly by Kim Piper Werker #creativity #read
I’ll admit I’m not a huge reader. I find it difficult to concentrate on words (where’s the pictures?) and I read rather slowly, which usually means I never finish a book I start. I stole Alison’s copy of Make It Mighty Ugly months ago and set it on my bookshelf intending to sit down and read it. Months went by and I still hadn’t picked it up.

At the end of February, I packed up and left for Central America and knew that the month long vacation I had ahead of me would be the perfect time to finally read Mighty Ugly. So with nothing to do but lie in a hammock with a rum punch and a good book, I started reading.

Make It Mighty Ugly is A Handbook For Vanquishing Creative Demons. Author Kim Piper Werker shares personal stories from her own experiences, offers advice from other successful creatives, and provides tools and exercises to overcome what she calls the dark side of creativity, ie. Our creative demons. We all have creative demons to face. Kim discusses the most common ‘demons’ like fear of failure, self-doubt, perfectionism and block. Then she offers exercises and suggestions on how to make friends with and overcome them.

Book Review: Make It Mighty Ugly by Kim Piper Werker #creativity #read

The title, Make It Mighty Ugly, comes from her desire to make ugly things on purpose. She does this as a way to overcome her fear of making something ugly unintentionally. I’m sure we all can relate to the feeling of worrying about what other people will think about the things we make. By setting out to make something ‘ugly’ we are able to free ourselves from the pressure of what the product or end result looks like. It instead allows us to focus on the process – which in my opinion (and Alison’s) is the best part of making anything.

Alison and I have had many discussions about how frustrating it is to hear people say “I’m not creative” because it’s just not true! As children we are born with the gift of creativity and imagination. What happens to a lot of people is that someone at some point tells them that something they created was bad or stupid and that they have no creative talent. What a horrible thing to tell someone, especially a child! Our creativity is what makes us truly unique individuals and expressing our creativity is so important for personal development.

I have been haunted by my own creative demons for years, particularly self-doubt and fear of failure. Years ago back when I had just begun my own creative business, Camp Smartypants, at a time when I had just discovered my creative voice and artistic style, someone close to me lashed out and accused me of being a fraud. I was utterly crushed. And what’s worse is that a part of me believed that she was right. Ever since then I’ve had that demon sitting in the dark part of my thoughts reminding me that no matter what I do or try to create, I am nothing but a big fat fraud.

Book Review: Make It Mighty Ugly by Kim Piper Werker #creativity #read

Reading Make It Might Ugly was such a comfort, learning that I’m not alone in combating creative demons. Until I read Kim’s book, I never really considered that there are ways of ‘making friends’ with and overcoming them either. I had just accepted that they were there to stay, sitting in the shadows of my brain, haunting me.

The biggest thing I learned from Make It Mighty Ugly is that you CAN quiet those mean voices inside your head. You know the ones, telling you how stupid you are and that your creative ambitions will never amount to anything. Creative demons don’t have to rule over you. We all have the ability to tell them to sit down and SHUT UP. All you need is the courage to acknowledge them and with the help of Make It Mighty Ugly you can face them head on. And the next time they start to chime in with their ugly negativity, you’ll be ready to take them down in a constructive, and creative way.

You can get your very own signed copy of the book on Kim’s website. It’s also available wherever books are sold so head to your local bookstore!

DIY: 8 Watercolor Inspired Projects

Since the theme for this month’s April DIY Challenge is watercolor, we decided to dig through our archives to find our favorite watercolor inspired posts. We hope you’ll enjoy revisiting these ideas!

1. DIY Watercolor Affirmation Cards

DIY: Watercolor Affirmation Cards #tutorial

2. DIY Watercolored Business Cards

Watercolored Business Cards

3. DIY Dip-Dyed Treasure Bags

DIY: Dip-Dyed Treasure Bags #craft #gift #dye

4. DIY Appearing Leaf Drop-Dyed Tissue
IMG_3541

5. DIY Hand-Dyed Paper Flowers

flowers_12

6. DIY Dip-Dyed Paper Butterfly Garland

DIY: Dip-Dyed Paper Butterfly Garland #craft #recycled #decoration

7. DIY: Tie-Dye Tissue Paper

tie-dye-paper-3

8. Free Printable Watercolor Gift Wrap

gift-packaging-eye-pillow-1

TOOLBOX: 8 Watercolor Techniques for Beginners

TOOLBOX: 8 Watercolor Techniques for Beginners #watercolor #tutorial #diycraftchallenge
After sharing my thoughts on basic watercolor supplies and techniques last week, I thought it might be fun to show you some more techniques to try. There are a lot of fun ways to use watercolor and today I’m going to show you 8 of my favorite techniques that are perfect for beginners (or any skill level).

You can try one or two of these ideas, or make your own page of all 8 techniques. To do this, use a pencil and ruler to measure out 8 rectangles on your watercolor paper. Label each box with each technique as shown in the photo below.

TOOLBOX: 8 Watercolor Techniques for Beginners #watercolor #tutorial #diycraftchallenge

Note before you start: I would recommend allowing each rectangle to dry completely before moving onto the next technique. You can use a hair dryer to speed the drying process along.

Technique #1: Salt

Salt is my absolute favorite technique to use in creating textured backgrounds. I keep a small container of sea salt with my supply kit. To use the salt first choose one or two colors and paint the first rectangle (or area) completely. Then, while the paint is still wet, sprinkle the salt over the top. Let the paint dry completely and then use your fingernail to flake away the salt.

Note: The wetter your painted area, the more your salt will spread. Try letting the paint dry partially (enough that water won’t run when you move your paper but still has a sheen) and notice the difference in texture you create.

TOOLBOX: 8 Watercolor Techniques for Beginners #watercolor #tutorial #diycraftchallenge

Technique #2: Tissue

Fill in the next rectangle with a wash of color(s). For best results you’ll want the surface to be wet and saturated with color.

TOOLBOX: 8 Watercolor Techniques for Beginners #watercolor #tutorial #diycraftchallenge

Crinkle a piece of tissue paper and place it on top of the wet paint. Being careful to cover the entire area, position the tissue over the wash and gently press down onto the paper with the palms of your hands. Allow to dry slightly (but not completely or the tissue could become glued to the watercolor paper) then carefully lift the tissue from the paper.

TOOLBOX: 8 Watercolor Techniques for Beginners #watercolor #tutorial #diycraftchallenge

TOOLBOX: 8 Watercolor Techniques for Beginners #watercolor #tutorial #diycraftchallenge

Technique #3: Alcohol

This technique is sorta fun to do. Fill the next rectangle with a watercolor wash.

TOOLBOX: 8 Watercolor Techniques for Beginners #watercolor #tutorial #diycraftchallenge

While the paint is still wet, dip a Q-tip into rubbing alcohol and drop it onto the wet paint. For best results let the alcohol drip from the Q-tip (rather than touching the q-tip to the paper).

TOOLBOX: 8 Watercolor Techniques for Beginners #watercolor #tutorial #diycraftchallenge

Technique #4: Crayon

You can use a crayon to create a ‘wax resist’ technique. First draw your design with a white crayon making sure to press firmly onto the paper.

TOOLBOX: 8 Watercolor Techniques for Beginners #watercolor #tutorial #diycraftchallenge

Using a white crayon on white paper makes it difficult to see what you are drawing. Tilt your paper to the side to get a glimpse of your design.

TOOLBOX: 8 Watercolor Techniques for Beginners #watercolor #tutorial #diycraftchallenge

Next apply your color wash. The paint will ‘resist’ the areas covered with crayon.

TOOLBOX: 8 Watercolor Techniques for Beginners #watercolor #tutorial #diycraftchallenge

Technique #5: Pen & Ink

Another favorite technique of mine. Using a fine-tip permanent pen, draw or doodle your design.

TOOLBOX: 8 Watercolor Techniques for Beginners #watercolor #tutorial #diycraftchallenge

Then, fill in color as you would a coloring book. Remember to switch to a smaller round brush to paint in small areas.

TOOLBOX: 8 Watercolor Techniques for Beginners #watercolor #tutorial #diycraftchallenge

Technique #6: Water Drops

Apply your color wash. Then load your brush with water (or another color) and let the paint drip onto the wash while it’s still wet. You can gently shake your brush down towards the paper to help the dripping along.

TOOLBOX: 8 Watercolor Techniques for Beginners #watercolor #tutorial #diycraftchallenge

Technique #7: Splatter

This technique is a lot of fun, but makes quite a mess. I suggest covering any areas of your paper that you don’t want to be splattered. Load your brush with paint then hold it over the top of your paper. With the other hand, tap your brush and watch the paint splatter onto your paper. Rinse your brush, choose your next color and splatter away.

TOOLBOX: 8 Watercolor Techniques for Beginners #watercolor #tutorial #diycraftchallenge

TOOLBOX: 8 Watercolor Techniques for Beginners #watercolor #tutorial #diycraftchallenge

Technique #8: Transparency

Because watercolors have a transparent quality you can create beautiful layers and density in your work. To play with transparency, it’s best to start from light to more saturated color. I chose to paint some drop shapes.

Using your first, lighter color cover the area with shapes. Let dry completely, then choose a slightly darker or more saturated color and paint more shapes, overlapping first layer. You can repeat this process as many times as you like.

TOOLBOX: 8 Watercolor Techniques for Beginners #watercolor #tutorial #diycraftchallenge

I hope this post inspires you to try one or two new techniques. Don’t be afraid to just go for it and have some fun! And stay tuned for more watercolor inspired tutorials and DIY projects on Adventures-In-Making for the entire month of April!

TOOLBOX: 8 Watercolor Techniques for Beginners #watercolor #tutorial #diycraftchallenge

Share your watercolor experiments with us! Join our community and submit your creations to our April DIY Challenge. Your project will be featured in our monthly gallery and you could even win a special award!

Update 4/16/15

If you enjoyed this post, we invite you to check out: Basic Watercolor Supplies & Techniques.

TOOLBOX: Watercolor Basic Supplies & Techniques

Watercolor is one of my favorite mediums and since we are exploring this theme all month with our DIY Challenge, I thought I’d put together an introductory post for anyone interested in trying watercolor for the first time.

Paper

TOOLBOX: Watercolor Basics
There are three different types of watercolor paper available: hot press, cold press and rough. Cold press paper is what I use most often as it has a beautiful texture to it (whereas hot press paper is smooth). Watercolor paper is much thicker than ordinary paper which is very important to prevent buckling while painting. 140 lb is the typical weight of most watercolor paper. There are thicker options out there if you are planning to use heavy washes, but 140 lb paper works just fine for me.

Watercolor paper comes in single sheets, spiral pads and blocks. I use a Strathmore spiral pad for experimenting and practicing. Then when I’m ready, I’ll switch to my Arches block to create my final painting. I do this because Arches is quite expensive. Plus I like to carry my Strathmore pad with me if I’m painting on the go.

TOOLBOX: Watercolor Basics

Block paper is just what it sounds like. An Arches block comes with 20 sheets of paper that are sealed together into one big block. Use an x-acto knife to carefully slice a single piece of paper off the block. Usually, I’ll paint directly on the block and slice it off when I’m finished. But you can also cut it off beforehand. To prevent buckling while painting I recommend using artist’s masking tape to tape down your paper onto a hard surface while painting.

Paper Brands We Recommend:

Strathmore
Arches

Brushes, Etc.

TOOLBOX: Watercolor Basics

There are three different types of watercolor brushes: rounds, flats and mops. All are made in a variety of sizes. The best brushes are made of natural fiber, most commonly sable. Kolinsky sable pointed rounds are prized for their ability to keep a fine point, which is very useful for detail work, but they are also very expensive. I’ll admit I tend to stick with synthetic brushes and usually will stock up on cheap student brushes rather than investing in the professional quality options. Maybe some day soon I’ll treat myself to a fancy new brush but for now these cheap brushes suite me just fine.

I use round brushes in a variety of sizes 90% of the time. If I’m doing a big wash, I’ll switch to a flat brush, but otherwise I use round brushes for all my painting.

Tip #1: You will ruin your brushes if you leave the brush end sitting in a glass of water. I’d recommend storing them in a jar brush side up. If you want to store them in a closed container make sure they are dry to avoid molding.

Tip #2: Rinse your brushes under running water after each painting session. If you find any traces of dried paint near the metal band, use a little soap to rinse them clean. Dry gently on a paper towel or cloth and reshape with your fingers.

Tip #3: Sponges, cotton balls and cotton swaps are extremely helpful tools in watercolor. They can be used to apply color or I like to use them to correct mistakes and clean up any extra watery areas. Cotton swaps are especially helpful if you want to create small highlights.

Paint

TOOLBOX: Watercolor Basics

There are two different types of watercolor: liquid tubes and solid pans. One is not better than the other, so it really comes down to your personal preference. I like to use a pan set as my base color palette and then I buy tubes whenever I want to try out new colors. Winser & Newton is an excellent brand that I use often (I love the Artist’s Watercolor Compact Set perfect for traveling). The paints shown in the image above are Schmincke brand which are very pricey but worth it for their amazing quality. Schmincke is my personal favorite because the pigment of their paints is so saturated and vibrant. I was lucky enough to receive this set at a birthday gift. Professional quality watercolors (like Winser & Newton and Schmincke) are expensive but think of it as a one-time investment. A basic pan set will last you a lifetime!

Professional Brands we recommend:

Winser & Newton
Schmincke
Holbein

If investing in a professional watercolor set is not an option for you never fear! Feel free to try out a student brand. I recommend starting with Winser & Newton Cotman. Student brands differ from professional brands in that they can have a lower concentration of pigment, have less expensive formulas and smaller range of colors available. That said, they are still a great option for anyone just starting out with watercolor.

Palettes

Palettes are great for mixing colors. If you have a paintbox set, then you can use the palette included with the box. But if you are using tubes, you’ll need a separate palette or pan. Palettes come in all shapes and sizes. I use a small plastic palette in addition to my paintbox.

Colors

TOOLBOX: Watercolor Basics

You can use as few or as many colors as you like. Some artists use only a handful of colors and mix whatever shades they like. My Schmincke paintbox comes with 24 colors so that’s what I use as my base palette. I also have a few additional tubes I love and use in addition to my paintbox.

Techniques

So you’ve gathered your supplies and are ready to paint. Great! Here are some basic painting techniques to try out.

TOOLBOX: Watercolor Basics

Blending

Blending is my favorite part of watercolor. I’d suggest experimenting with blending different colors together. To do this, first paint a shape or squiggle line with plain water only. Then dip your brush into the paint and add it to the watered area. Watch it spread, then clean your brush and choose a second color. Apply this to the opposite end of your watered area and watch the colors blend together. You can move your paper side to side to help the watercolor run together.

Marks

Next I would try out all your different brushes. Experiment with different mark-making and see what you come up with. Draw circles, dashes, lines, and dots. Try mixing lots of water with your paint and then try the opposite by applying paint with a dry brush. Play with different textures, shades and colors.

Layering

My favorite part of watercolor is the process of creating different layers. I’ve painted a simple flower to give you a taste of what layering is like. First use a pencil to lightly draw a flower. I found a photo of a flower for reference. Once your pencil drawing is finished, carefully cover the entire thing in water and then apply a ‘base’ layer. This will be the bottom layer that we will then build from. I blended two different colors to create my base layer.

TOOLBOX: Watercolor Basics

It’s very important that you let each layer dry completely before moving onto the next. I use a hair dryer to speed the drying process along.

TOOLBOX: Watercolor Basics

Once your base layer is completely dry you can begin adding in more detail. Start with one petal at a time, using your photo as reference for shading and color.

TOOLBOX: Watercolor Basics

TOOLBOX: Watercolor Basics

I hope this post demystifies watercolor for any beginners out there and gives you a place to start. Don’t be afraid to experiment and play! I also recommend checking out a great watercolor series by The Alison Show.

Be sure to share any painting experiments with us by entering our April DIY Challenge!

Update 4/16/15

If you enjoyed this post, we invite you to check out: 8 Watercolor Techniques For Beginners