Updated: Aug 12, 2020
Isabelle from @isabellealgrinart is originally born in France, now based in Montreal, Canada. She has been watercolouring since 8 years old. She has a Masters degree in Art History and History and another one in Museum Studies. She is most passionate about fantasy illustration and creates beautiful jewelry pieces made from miniature watercolor paintings. You can further support her on Patreon Page here https://www.patreon.com/m/isabellealgrin You will have access to a lot of behind the scenes and exclusive content.
Hello, my name is Isabelle and isabellealgrinart is my artistic face! Stacey kindly let me write a little article about how I create my watercolour bookmarks, and you know what? I have a few colours from Stacey that I wanted to use for a special project, so it makes the perfect occasion to do so!
I think there are already a lot of good tutorials to learn how to paint your watercolour galaxy or watercolour mountains, so I will show you how I do my own Flowers pattern on my bookmarks! You can find my Instagram page @isabellealgrinart where you can see some examples and inspiration references for our topic today!
So get ready to learn and start painting! Loki here followed each of the steps to make sure I do not forget anything, what would I do without my familiar!
Art supplies you will need:
A flat surface to tape it
Painter’s tape (or washi tape)
A palette to mix your colours
Tissue or fabric to wipe your brush
A glass of water (or two)
Something to cut paper
Optional : laminating sheets, hole puncher, ribbon, string, beads, glitter, anything to get creative!
Choose your paper
When you are using watercolours you have the choice between 2 main types of paper, hot pressed or cold pressed. Hot pressed has a smoother surface texture and is really good if you want to work in details. Cold pressed has a more textured surface, which can be more or less visible depending on the brands you are using. In this step by step I am using Arches cold pressed paper, but you can also use less expensive paper, like Canson, Strathmore or any other brand you have at home!
When I am preparing my paper to make mini original paintings, I always think of the size I want them to have first. Personally, the size I am using is very approximative, BUT I tend to make them around 5x15cm (or approximately 2x6 inches). These dimensions include the white border I want to keep around my painted area. This is totally optional, but I love the look it gives my artwork! Of course, you can play with shapes and dimensions and maybe make them larger and shorter, it is totally up to you, and it can be the occasion to have your very own size style!
Preparing your paper
Next step is preparing your paper! As we are working with watercolours, you do not want the paper to make waves under the water you will use! Even though this will be easier with the flower pattern we will do, let’s imagine you want to do a galaxy painting… trust me you will need your paper to be taped securely onto a flat surface!
What kind of flat surface?
Well, it can be anything as long as it will not drink the water you may pour on it. Avoid cardboard, preferably something like a thick plastic piece you can reuse at your will. You can even tape it on your table.
For this example you can use washi tape like I do because I will not use too much water. Oh and please if you plan a pattern that will require to use water on all the paper surface, do use painter’s tape and a good quality one. Been there, done that! Cheap ones do not hold the water and our paper ends up buckling and warping.
So basically, here, you have three options.
You cut your paper pieces and plan to have a border around the dimensions you planned and tape them individually on a flat surface.
You just separate the mini paintings with tape, using a single sheet of paper. It is okay with the flower pattern with minimal water, but it might be a little risky if you use a lot of water because the paper will warp.
You paint a whole scenery, like let’s say a flower field or a big galaxy painting and you cut the pieces of paper for your paintings once it is all dry.
In my example, I am using option 1. This is the option I am using most of the time.
Choose your watercolours and any other medium you need
As I said in my little intro, I want to take this occasion to paint with my lovely colours I got from Stacey! I have quite the collection of dot cards I had the chance to win in one of her giveaways last year and the colours are just gorgeous! I even have some shimmer colours so they will be perfect to use for this project.
Here are the colours made by Stakiwi Colours that I was able to use for this blog article : Hydrangea, Devil's Bath, Pink Potter, and Mermaid's Song as well as Lagoon and Glinda which are two shimmery colours.
You can choose any brand you are comfortable with, or try some new paints maybe! Just pick whatever makes YOU happy!
A little instructions though : For the petals, you will need at least a basic tone, a lighter tone or a shimmer colour to add a little magic to your painting, as well as a darker tone. Also pick some colours for the flower stalk and the leaves.
Choose your ink pen so it can write well on your paper if it is textured. Pick any colour you like! You can even use some glitter pens!
So now you have your paper taped and ready, your glass of fresh water, brush, watercolours and palette, it is finally time to start painting!
General flower shape with water and light colour
Get started by selecting a colour and dilute it with water then apply gently onto paper to create a shape that looks like a flower (whatever flower you want to make). Keep it simple and go with the flow. This is the first layer and the base of your flower.
Add a touch of the basic colour you want to use
Now, select the same colour but use less water with it, so it looks darker. Apply the colour with the tip of your brush onto the water on the bottom edge of the flower. Let the magic of watercolours do its job! You will see how the darker colour will flow into the previous layer, isn’t it pretty?
Add a touch of lighter or shimmery colour at the top
Now, let’s work on the top edge of the flower to give it a little of a fantastic shimmery effect.
Select a colour that is light and shimmery, and gently apply in thin layers the paint right at the edge of the flower and give the end of the petals the shape you want them to have, this is totally up to you. You can make them rounded, pointy, or any other kind you may enjoy! Also, feel free to use different shimmery colours, like I did on my example, I used two different colours and I think it looks really pretty!
Add a touch of darker colour at the bottom
Now let’s give a little of contrast to that flower, by adding a touch of dark at the very bottom of the flower, to start shaping its base, on which the stalk connects. I chose a brown colour to make a real contrast and once again, I simply apply a touch of it at the bottom and I let the watercolour flow into the previous layer’s water.
Paint the flower stalk and some little leaves
Now we need to create a stalk for this pretty flower and add a few leaves to make it complete.
Simple, use the same colour as you did at the base of the flower, and trace a thin line going down to the very bottom of your paper.There is no need for the line to be super strait, you can totally have fun creating the shape you want! Now you can add a few leaves to the stalk while the paint is still wet on the paper, by making a tiny oval shape. You can try various shapes until you find the one you enjoy the most. I like my leaves tiny but depending on the type of flower you want to paint, maybe they will be bigger, just enjoy creating any shape you think suits your flower the best!
Add an inspirational quote
Last but not least, we can add a little inspirational quote at the top of the mini painting (this is totally optional). I usually search for quotes on Pinterest, or even invent them from what is on my mind!
You chose your quote? Perfect! Let’s write it onto the paper by using an ink pen, or a gelly roll pen (or any other ink of your choice). Calligraphers will have the best time trying this! For my part, I just try to shape the letters the best I can, and sometimes I just write very quickly just to give a specific style to my quotes. There again, be creative!
The final touches
Now your mini paintings are all finished and pretty They need the final cut and final touch!
So depending on the option you chose to make them, simply cut the paper around your mini artwork from the dimensions you chose at the very beginning of this step by step. Let your imagination flow, you can even cut around the flowers to give it a special look! Everything is possible! You can leave the corners rectangular or give them a specific shape too. I personally like to trim them in round corners with a little tool. You can add anything, maybe a tiny point or a touch of gold paint? Who knows where your imagination will lead you! Enjoy the process and have fun!