Painting Watercolor Roses for Beginners

how to paint watercolor roses

The modern brush lettering paired with the vintage looking watercolor rose is making me super happy. I love the blushing yellow colors, but as much as I hate to admit it, it's really simple to paint. Yep, all those years in art school were not necessary for this project!!

To do it, you just need some simple instructions and the following supplies:

  1. Waterbrush
  2. Powdered Pigment (I used the red Pixie Paint from Cosmo Cricket)
  3. Yellow and Deep Red watercolor (the red needs to be dark, a deep scarlet)
  4. Watercolor paper (Of course, I'm using the blank watercolor tag from Cosmo Cricket... yes, I'm biased, and in love with these!)
  5. Resist Pen by Cosmo Cricket, I really don't know of any others that work, and I mean that sincerely, but you could try white crayon for a slightly different look.
  6. Pretty Ribbon if desired

OK, my friends, let's get started drawing a rose. Please don't judge the grainy image... I drew the lines for the rose so lightly that I had to really tweak the contrast on this image for them to show up at all. It went a bit weird, but hey, you got a free tutorial out of it!

Start with the center of your rose and draw a tiny little blob shape. Then draw little, ruffly, edged shapes working your way around the center and getting a little bigger with each round. Stop when the rose is the size you like. See, easy!

Start with the center of your rose and draw a tiny little blob shape. Then draw little, ruffly, edged shapes working your way around the center and getting a little bigger with each round. Stop when the rose is the size you like. See, easy!

Once your rose is drawn, use the Cosmo Cricket Resist Pen to draw a highlight along the inside edge of each petal. Let the resist dry before moving on... ask me how I know!

Next, you want to put down a wash of pink and yellow over the top of the entire rose. This will "highlight the highlights" so you know where they are and give you some tone throughout your flower.

It looks tricky with the color changing throughout, but it's not! Just put some of that red Pixie Paint into the handle of your waterbrush and fill it with water. Then, dip into yellow watercolor and start painting from the center out. Don't re-dip into that yellow until the color has turned pink. Repeat that process, working your way out, until the whole rose has a single coat of paint.

It looks tricky with the color changing throughout, but it's not! Just put some of that red Pixie Paint into the handle of your waterbrush and fill it with water. Then, dip into yellow watercolor and start painting from the center out. Don't re-dip into that yellow until the color has turned pink. Repeat that process, working your way out, until the whole rose has a single coat of paint.

Once your rose is colored, we're going to use that same, filled waterbrush to paint in some darks. These dark values will help give the rose a lot more dimension. (OK, maybe a little bit of that art school learning is being used... but just a little!)

As you see in the below photos, the darks are a very dark, red watercolor. I use the pink water in the waterbrush to pull the red out toward the resisted edge.  Do this on all the petals, even going over the yellow areas. In fact, I even went back and added some more dark red to the center to really deepen the color there.

Watercolor roses for beginners
easy paint techniques
Simple shading on watercolor roses
Modern watercolor techniques

OK, if you're still with me, you should have a gorgeous looking rose! Tell me you do!!

Now that we've painted a flower we are really happy with, let's risk it all by adding some brush lettering. What do you think?? (I never think to do the lettering first, it's just my way of living on the edge!)

Below you'll find a video of myself lettering this tag. I was disappointed that I didn't have quite enough water in my brush to start... you'll see this as I come around the top curve of the letter "B". Stuff like this happens and you just have to go with the flow... or lack of flow as the case may be. 

Anyway, I also grabbed some stills of the brush (a waterbrush is my favorite for brush lettering) so you can hopefully see exactly what is happening as I work.
 

Notice the tip of my brush. The bristles are behind my hand. The brush is being "pulled" up keeping the bristles close together.

Notice the tip of my brush. The bristles are behind my hand. The brush is being "pulled" up keeping the bristles close together.

Again, look at the tip, it's behind my hand and I'm applying very little pressure so those bristles are really narrow.

Again, look at the tip, it's behind my hand and I'm applying very little pressure so those bristles are really narrow.

Here you can see how my brush was a bit dry. But, you can also see the tip is now being pressed down so that the bristles are wide.

Here you can see how my brush was a bit dry. But, you can also see the tip is now being pressed down so that the bristles are wide.

And here is another look of the brush widening as I apply more pressure on the downward stroke.

And here is another look of the brush widening as I apply more pressure on the downward stroke.

Here's that video I promised! It looks so easy here, right?!

Watercoloring Succulents

Flourish_ Tag_lres.jpg

I've always loved using tags as a canvas, so of course, adding tags made out of watercolor paper to the Cosmo Cricket line was a priority! If you combine them with some paint, the Resist Pen and a waterbrush, you can easily create beautiful works of art for gift labels, bookmarks, cards, collages, or even just by themselves  in frames or even shadow boxes filled with other little trinkets.

Here's how to paint your own succulent tag.

You'll need:

  1. A Cosmo Cricket watercolor tag
  2. A waterbrush (For lettering, I love the Tim Holtz detail brush for the very fine tip.)
  3. Two or more green colors of watercolor paint. Tube watercolor is preferred.
  4. The Cosmo Cricket resist pen
  5. A pencil

(I thought I was getting film and photos of this project, only to learn we were having technical difficulties. Please excuse my digital representation of the steps!)

Use pencil to lightly draw in a succulent. To do this, start with a triangle in the center, then just added petal shapes as you work your way out.

Use pencil to lightly draw in a succulent. To do this, start with a triangle in the center, then just added petal shapes as you work your way out.

Draw your resist right inside your pencil line. It's really nice to use the wide edge of the chisel tip across the top of the petal and then thin edge on the sides.

Draw your resist right inside your pencil line. It's really nice to use the wide edge of the chisel tip across the top of the petal and then thin edge on the sides.

Use a light wash over the whole plant. This way the pencil gets fairly well covered and the resist becomes more visible for the next step.

Use a light wash over the whole plant. This way the pencil gets fairly well covered and the resist becomes more visible for the next step.

Dip the very tip of your brush into a dark color, picking up just a little. Painting one petal at a time and starting in the center, put this dark bit of paint right at the base of the petal. Then use water to pull the paint, fading it lighter as it works out to the outer edge.

Dip the very tip of your brush into a dark color, picking up just a little. Painting one petal at a time and starting in the center, put this dark bit of paint right at the base of the petal. Then use water to pull the paint, fading it lighter as it works out to the outer edge.

You can watch me do the lettering in the video below, but it's really just practice. Here are a few tips to get you started.

  1.  Dip into watercolor to start and use a pallet or scratch piece of paper to get the consistency and flow of your brush to your liking before beginning.
  2. Pull down on the down strokes, lift up on the upstrokes.
  3. When a letter calls for a counter-clockwise curve at the top (for example, cursive, lowercase "f") go slow to make the turn. Give the bristles time to catch up and follow the brush around the curve. This just takes practice.
  4. When making counter-clockwise curves at the base of letters, go fast and lift quickly. It's almost like a flick.
  5. Have fun, enjoy the process and remember, beauty is found in the imperfections!

Pixie Paint 101

Pixie Paint Powdered Watercolor Pigment

Here's three techniques to try with the Pixie Paints. I love them all!

Each one was done with the Harbor color, so you can see how it results in really different effects.

watercolored cards pigment powder pixie paint

The above card, in blue, was painted with Pixie Paint applied dry. Using the paint on dry surfaces creates a lot of color variation because each color of paint is actually a mix of colors plus mica powder for shimmer. The dry application also results in interesting splotches and textures. It reminds me of Geodes.

Dry application:
1. Hold Pixie Paint container fairly horizontal and tap slightly on the bottom letting powder fall onto the dry surface.
2. Use a completely dry brush to move the pigment around to the desired areas. Tap the pigment from the brush when finished. You'll want to wash your brush when you clean up.
3. Spritz your the paint with a spray bottle to activate the color.

With a wet application, the colors blend and swirl. The above painting shows how different the same Pixie Paint looks when applied wet. There is mica in the mix, so you get shimmer too. It's really pretty.
 

watercolor techniques
powder pigment techniques
Painting with powder pigments
watercolored tags

Wet application:
1. Paint area with clear water using a clean brush.
2. Hold Pixie Paint container fairly horizontal and tap slightly on the bottom letting powder fall onto the wet surface.
3. The colors will activate upon contact. Each container holds a blend of colors resulting in dramatic and unexpected effects.
4. Use your brush to blend the paint as desired.

Pixie Paint in a Water Brush

The third way to use Pixie Paint is to dissolve it into water and then paint with it like an ink. You can also dissolve it in the handle of a water brush. This is my favorite technique! The above painting was done with Harbor in the handle of my brush and the tip of my brush dipped into yellow. (See full tutorial here.) All the shades in between the clear blue to the bright yellow were created as I painted . The colored water in the handle simply moved to the tip blending with the yellow.

Drawing Watercolor Resists

Drawing watercolor resists

There are lots of ways to create watercolor resists. I think we all did halloween art with crayon and watercolor in elementary school, right? This technique is just as easy, but gives much better results.

What you'll need:

  1. Watercolor paper
  2. Watercolor paint and brush
  3. Cosmo Cricket Resist Pen
  4. Water jar
  5. Rag or paper towel
Hand drawing watercolor resists

The above photos is a bit grainy, but you can faintly see the design I'm drawing. To do this, I pump the resist pen on my little scratch piece of paper until the resist is flowing well. Then I draw my lines. 

Cosmo Cricket Watercolor Resist Pen


You want to wait until the resist is completely dry before painting! It just takes a couple minutes. You can tell when it's ready to go because it's glossy when it's wet. 

painting over watercolor resists
Painting Over Watercolor Resists
Drawing Watercolor Resists

After it's dry just start painting. Don't worry if some of the paint doesn't roll completely off the resist, you can clean it up after it's all painted with a damp brush. It won't stick, so when the brush sweeps over it, it will lift right off. Use your towel to wipe your brush clean in between each sweep.

If you give this a try, let me know! Comment here, share on my facebook page, or tag me on instagram. I'd love to see your work!

Draw Your Own Watercolor Resists

Deceptively Easy Watercolor Florals

Deceptively easy watercolor flowers

These flowers may look complicated to paint, but trust me, you can do it!

What you'll need:

  1. Painting Surface. I'm using the "Be YOU tiful" block from the Cosmo Cricket: Just Add Watercolor line.
  2. Water brush
  3. Pixie Paint powder pigment in Harbor
  4. Yellow watercolor. I like tube watercolor for this technique, but you can use cakes if that's what you have. Just get them quite wet before starting and know that you will contaminate the yellow with blue.

This may seem scary, but I don't draw out anything. I just turn on some happy music and go with whatever happens. You may want to practice a few flowers on a scratch piece of paper first.

Start by putting a little Pixie Paint powder in the barrel of the water brush. Then fill it with water and shake it up. To begin painting, dip your brush into your yellow watercolor. (You can use other colors, I've done red with the blue and it's really pretty too.)

watercolor flower tutorial

To form your flowers, pull your brush from the outer edge of the top petal toward yourself. Repeat this with as many swipes as it takes to make the sized petal you want. Be careful to stop painting just short of the center so that the middle of the flower stays white. 

Work your way around the flower, rotating the surface as you go instead of trying to turn your hand.

how to paint watercolor flowers

As you paint, the blue will mix with the yellow making shades of green. Eventually it will get all used up and you'll be painting just blue. When that happens re-dip into the yellow.

If you want green for leaves, just dip into yellow and then brush onto a scratch paper until you've got green. If you want to speed up to blue, just squeeze the brush to let the blue flow more quickly.

paint watercolor leaves.jpg

Drawing stems is simple, just put your brush up on its tip and use it like a pencil. Sometimes my brush is really we from the liquid flowing through it, so it's a good idea to wipe it on a cloth before doing detail work.

The little leaves are super easy to make. Just make a dot and pull it to the stem. This will look like a little bud. If you want even more of a leaf like shape, pull the tip out just a little.

easy watercolor flowers to paint

Just keep filling in flowers and leaves. Try not to think too much, it's really forgiving!

When you have your flowers filled in, you may want to go back and add some dots for texture, darken a few areas up, add a few more details, etc. 

Here's an image of the one I did with the red and blue. Give it a try and tag me on facebook or Instagram if you share there! You can also check my facebook page where I posted a video tutorial of this project.
 

Pretty watercolor flowers

Brush Lettering: Chameleon Effects

Watercolor brush lettering

Use a water brush and Pixie Paint to create color changes that happen right while your painting. It's like magic!

Cosmo Cricket Pixie Paint by Julie Comstock

Maybe you're asking, Julie, what is Pixie Paint. Well, it's powdered watercolor pigment. Each color has multiple hues of pigment in the bottle, so when you sprinkle it on a wet surface, you get a lot of color variety. However, when you add it directly to the barrel of a water-brush, you get a mix of all the colors. For the above tag, I used the dark blue (Harbor).

Other Things You'll Need for this Project:

  1. A watercolor tag or paper to paint on
  2. A water-brush
  3. Gold Thread
  4. Needle
  5. Scissors
  6. Practice!

You can watch this little video of me doing the lettering, but it's not the best quality. Just practice, take it slowly and try to relax. I did a few trial runs on a scrap piece of paper to work out the design first and then used that as a visual reference while free-handing the tag.

Once your design is painted, use a needle to poke holes where your stitches will go.

Modern brush calligraphy with watercolor

Then just stitch it up and tape off the loose ends on the backside of the tag.

Paper Heart Dishes

Paper Heart Watercolor Dishes.jpg

These little party dishes are so cute and easy they'll make your heart pitter-patter. (I love puns, what can I say?)

Supplies Needed:

  1. Watercolor Heart Tags (Mine are from the Creative Girl by Julie Comstock set of course, but you can cut your own if you want. They should be 4" x 4" approximately.)
  2. Watercolors
  3. Water
  4. Brushes
  5. Scissors
  6. Tape
Painting heart watercolor tags craft.jpg

Start by painting all your tags. Then let them dry.
 

Making paper heart party bowls.jpg

After your painted tags have dried, but a 1/2" slit into the top of the heart. Then, overlap the edges and tape in place on the backside.

Your heart is made, but it will teeter on the point, just press your thumb down into the bowl to flatten out the bottom surface a bit. 

All that's left is to fill them up with candy and invite some friends over!

Watercolor Tags 6 Different Ways

Ideas_Watercolor_Tag_Projects.jpg

If you're nervous to try a large scale watercolor painting, start with a tag. The smaller size makes them much less intimidating and since they come in a six-pack, if you mess one up, you have 5 more attempts! Here's six takes on six different designs to inspire your inner artist.

What you'll need:

  1. Just Add Watercolor Tags
  2. Watercolor paints (I like Soho Brand, and I'm not endorsed by them)
  3. Waterproof marker for any lettering
  4. Any desired stamps
  5. Strings, ribbon or toothpicks depending on the uses you like best
Watercolor_Placesetting_tag_diy.jpg

1. Place Setting Assignments

Use a waterproof lettering pen to write out your guests' names. Then add some swipes of watercolor over the top. To achieve use heavy paint on the edges while blending in more water as you go toward the center.

Watercolor_bookmarks_diy.jpg

2. Bookmarks

Paint up a tag to use as a bookmark. If you like lettering, add a quote about how fantastic books are, because really, they are pretty awesome!

handmade_card_tag_watercolor.jpg

3. Handmade Cards

Add a tag to a card to make a really special note for a friend. Cosmo Cricket has a great tutorial for painting this tag.

Painted_gift_tag.jpg

4. Gift Tags

Of course, they look darling on gifts. In fact, you can skip buying gift wrap and just recycle a brown shopping bag; the hand-painted tag will make up for it!

Watercolor_drink_labels.jpg

5. Drink Labels

Help guests keep track of their drinks by adding a pretty, watercolor tag to the straw or stem. 

cupcake_topper_tag.jpg

6. Cupcake Toppers

This is my favorite project! We used a Cosmo Cricket stamp to add the sentiment onto our watercolored tag. 

 

Watercoloring With Coffee, Tea, Wine and KoolAid

Watercoloring_coffee_tea_wine_koolaid.jpg

Before you drink your favorite beverage, maybe you should try painting with it? You can create beautiful "watercolor" paintings with a lot of common drinks. 

paint_with_coffee.jpg

To use coffee as paint, brew it quite strong. With Coffee, I found that I couldn't really build the color without most of the "pigment" going out towards the previous line. If you let the painting dry completely before adding more coffee, it will still roll outward, but might not get all the way to the previous edge. You can see that happening in the smaller flower.

paint_with_tea.jpg

Tea is simply lovely when painted. It builds much more beautifully than coffee, although you will still have a hard edge. My paintings are done with black tea. I brewed one tea bag in a shot glass of boiling water for about 10 minutes to make the tea as dark as I could.

koolaid_as_paint.jpg

I only tested purple Koolaid. This was also made extra strong by using the entire package in a shot glass of boiling water. Koolaid works a lot like coffee as far as the hard edges go, but does layer a little bit better. One thing I liked is that you could soften the edge quite a bit by going over it with water.

wine_as_watercolor.jpg

Interestingly enough, wine works a lot like tea. I really loved working with it too. This was a Cabernet, but I think any dark red wine would give you a good result. Use it straight out of the bottle.

With a little practice, I was able to create the above painting. The lettering was done in coffee. Tea is just too light to show up in a single pass. All the "yellow" in the flowers is tea. The "grey" purple color is wine and the more vibrant purple is Koolaid. 

I found that if you add tea to wet wine or Koolaid, it makes the purple roll out to the edges leaving a lighter area where the tea was. If you add wine or Koolaid on top of wet tea, it spreads out through the yellow.

I hope you give it a try!

10 Ways to use Watercolor Paper

DIY_watercolor_ideas.jpg

Ok, you've bought one of the Just Add Watercolor decks. You've even painted them all up and are smitten with the results. So, now what do you do with your fabulous paintings?

Here's ten ideas!

1. Gift Tags. I've designed paintable gift tags, but you can always cut your painted paper into your own. They look darling with tissue paper wrappings in matching colors.

watercolored_gift_tags.jpg

2. Favor Boxes. Cut your paper using a pillow box template and stuff them with treats. If you're a super, over-achiever, add cute little tags too!

Watercolor_gift_boxes.jpg

3. Notebook Cover. A drab sketchbook becomes inspiring with some splashes of watercolor and a reminder to live life to the fullest.

watercolored_notebook_cover.jpg

4. Handmade Cards. With the resist already printed on the watercolor paper, these cards take just seconds to make, but look much more impressive.

Watercolored_cards.jpg

5. Paper Flowers. Tear your paper into circles and attach them to twigs.

6. Vanity Tray. Just frame your painted paper to turn it into a try. Details here.

Watercolor_vanity_tray.jpg

7. Feather Bookmarks. Cut you paper into feathers to use as bookmarks. This tutorial shows you how to add wire to make them bendable for hanging from dreamcatchers and mobiles.

Watercolor_feather_bookmarks.jpg

8. Paper Garland. Use punches to cut you paper into pretty shapes. Sew it into a garland. Garlands made from big shapes are fun over windows and doorways. Garlands made from tiny pieces are cute to use around gifts.

Watercolor_paper_garland_craft.jpg

9. Frame It. Add your watercolors to your walls in whatever style frame fits your decor.

framed_watercolor_art.jp

10. Trinket Dish. A dollar store dish gets up-cycled with the addition of painted paper. Cut the paper to fit and seal it with UTEE.

Watercolor_trinked_dish.jpg

Wait, there's one more. Apparently, us artists can't do numbers!
11. Pencil Holder. Re-cycle a soup can and make a cute desktop pencil holder with watercolor paper and gold spray paint. The earth will love you.

Watercolored_pencil_holder.jpg

DIY Watercolor Vanity Tray

DIY Watercolor Vanity Tray

All the little things that make a girl feel pretty look simply gorgeous on this watercolor vanity tray. I particularly love how my perfume bottles match the watercolors.

Supplies Needed:

  1. Creative Girl by Julie Comstock Watercolor 12" Deck
  2. Watercolors (I like Soho Brand)
  3. Brush
  4. Water
  5. Picture Frame (mine is 12")
  6. Stick-on felt circles
watercolor_paper_julie_comstock.jpg

What to do:

  1. Choose one patterned papers from the deck.
  2. Paint it in your favorite watercolors. 
  3. Remove any hanging hardware from the back of your frame.
  4. Frame your painted paper.
  5. Add the felt circles to protect your countertop from scratches.

Best Brushes for Trendy Watercolor

Brushes-modern-watercolor.jpg

The brushes shown above are my most used watercolor brushes when working with the Just Add Watercolor and Creative Girl watercolor pre-resisted blocks.

Must have brushes:

  • 1" Filbert I like natural hair brushes, stay away from acrylic because they don't hold enough paint typically.
  • 1" Round bristle brush This is a cheap brush and you can see it gets abused. I use it for dropping color or water right onto the painting in splatters. I also use it to flick paint by running my thumbnail across the bristles. (Yep, that's what happened to those poor bristles!) And it makes awesome multi-color splotches. (See below.)
  • 1" Flat Look for a brush that gives you a nice chiseled edge when wet. 
Watercolor_flowers.jpg

Don't be afraid of the big sizes, they will help you:

  • Load multiple colors to create ombrè effects
  • Get wide swipes of continuous color
  • Minimize visible brush strokes
  • Make artsy splatter droplets
Watercolor-flowers-brush.jpg

When I'm working on blank blocks or paper, I have a few other favorites you may want to consider. Neither of the above brushes are particularly good quality, but you can use that to your advantage. On the left, is a small round brush. Because of it's size, the petals on my flower had to be swiped in multiple passes creating pretty streaks. On the left, the worn, jagged edge of my old 1/2" filbert make nice petals in a single stroke.

A long thin lettering brush is what you want for long thin strokes. Besides lettering, you'll get great lines for decoration, flower stems, delicate branches, etc. You can even make lovely dots when using the tip.

Let me scroll all the tutorials!

How to use Pixie Paint

How to use Pixie Paint

DIY Watercolor Paper Dish

DIY Watercolor Paper Dish

How to Draw Resists

How to Draw Resists

DIY: Weave an Ombre Design on a String Art Heart

ombre-string-art-heart.jpg

Ombre or variegated yarn makes for beautiful string art! One problem that I've run into though is that the yarn color changes too slowly, and as a result, the finished piece doesn't have much variation. To solve that issue, gather your supplies and follow these steps.

Supplies needed:

  1. Variegated or Ombre yarn
  2. Pegged Board: I used the heart from my String Art craft line. It comes with the pegs set.
  3. Scissors


Instructions:

  1. Tie your string to the top center peg of the heart.
  2. Wrap it around the lower center peg.
  3. Then, wrap those same pegs a second time. By double-wrapping each spot, you'll use twice the amount of yarn showing off the color change.
  4. Move over one peg clockwise from each of the two starting pegs. Wrap twice like before.
  5. Keep going clockwise around the heart until you complete all the pegs, double-wrapping each time.
  6. Tie a knot around the top peg to finish.
  7. Hide the loose ends under your weaving and trim excess.

Let me scroll all the tutorials!

DIY "Watercolor" Using Rit Dye

Watercolor_Rit_Dye.jpg

Use powered Rit Dye to create watercolors with a "woven" look to them.

You'll need:

  1. Powdered dye: I used Tangerine, Rose and Plum for color variation
  2. 1 watercolor paper or block: Hello, Just Add Watercolor Block
  3. 1 paintbrush
  4. Water
  5. Towel
  6. Protected surface 

Instructions:

  1. Sprinkle the dye along the top edge of the block.
  2. Use a damp brush to wipe the die toward the bottom edge. They dye will activate as it becomes wet from the brush, so dip your brush in water as needed.
  3. After the vertical texture is complete, sprinkle dye along one of the side edges, using your brush to pull it over to the opposite side.