Meg’s Makes: Week 2 - Watercolour Cards

This week we are back with a very different (and far more artistically challenging) project - painting watercolour greeting cards. Luckily enough we had an expert on hand to guide us, which was an absolute blessing bearing in mind I personally haven’t used watercolour paints since I was about 5!

Last Saturday, we headed to the Anthropologie store in Spitalfields, and took a 2 hour class lead by Liz Temperley of Blank Inside illustrations. Liz creates those beautiful and witty cards you’re bound to have seen all over Pinterest, so we spent our morning trying to imitate her fabulous designs.

As a total novice, my tips are very unlikely to appeal to the more accomplished artists amongst you, so I apologise if my terminology and skills leave a lot to be desired! However, what I do hope is that my notes encourage a few of you to give it a go. Particularly those of who might usually be too intimidated to pick up a paintbrush and see what you can create - this was me, a week ago! Trust me, it’s SO much fun and I really surprised myself with what I achieved.

Anyway, thanks so much for joining us for our second make! Here’s how we got on…

<< WATERCOLOUR CARDS >>

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
TIME: 1-2 hours

  • Thick watercolour paper
  • Watercolour paints (we used Reeves watercolour tubes)
  • Brushes in a good range of sizes
  • Small palette
  • 2 x water jars - one to add to paint, one for cleaning brushes
  • Pencil
  • Kitchen roll / tissue for spills

COST: £10* inc. all materials and 5 cards

* The £10 is actually redeemable if you spend £20 in Anthropologie which is dreamy! We got a lovely soy candle and some little turquoise ceramic tealight holders. Check out their other in-store classes - I saw a great perfume making one too.

HOW TO DO IT:

1. Lightly sketch an outline of your chosen image directly onto a card, whether inspired or original (we basically loved Liz’s designs so much that we tried to clone them)! Don’t worry if your pencil lines aren’t perfect - a little bit of messiness only adds to the charm.

2. Mix up your chosen colours in the palette. NB. For the total beginners amongst you, your colours should be really quite watery. I found this hard to get used to at first, but eventually worked out that the more diluted they are, the better they work. Funny that they call them ‘water’ colours hey!

3. To get a really good bleed across your colours (like our orange balloon) you need to ‘paint’ the entirety of your shape with clean water first, and then add a drop / sweep of colour here and there across the soggy surface until you get the desired effect. Be warned, it spreads quite quickly, and quite far. You could also do this in sections - this works particularly well if you’re using very different colours on various areas. This technique also creates a lovely outline to the shape, which you can probably see on the little cats.

4. Paint, paint, paint! Just go for it - start with a big wash of colour and then add shading, or take it bit by bit and layer up the colours to make things a little more detailed (see Mr Frog below). One tip would be that if you are including a lot of detail, let it dry for 30 secs or so in between adding new colours.

5. For finer detail, such as eyes, it’s definitely best to use a stronger colour. We just used a tiny bit of water with the black for those bits.

6. This is an important one - don’t take it too seriously! Have fun figuring out how it works, and laugh at your mishaps - remember with watercolour there is always a way to tidy it up.

7. Set your cards out to dry, making sure they’re flat, and congratulate yourself on your fun new creations. Post your cards to anyone who needs a bit of love or cheering up, as a handmade card always does the trick!

MEG’S VERDICT

How easy was it? 3/5

We spent 2 hours in the class and each made 5 cards, although I admit I had to rush the last 2 because my frog took about 50 minutes in itself! I honestly haven’t painted (except to give an old milking stool a coat of chalk paint) since I was in primary school, and I found it quite easy to pick up. It probably helps if you have a bit of a creative eye, and since I’m a huge perfectionist I made myself stick at it until I got it right. I did have a couple of mishaps though, as I’m sure you’ll see - namely a line of running water across the balloon, and a dodgy coloured flamingo leg!

How much fun did I have? 5/5

It was so much fun, although does demand a lot of concentration. It helped that I went to the class with two of my closest friends, and everyone else was incredibly friendly and complimentary of each other’s designs.

How useful will the skill it be in future? 4/5

It’s going to be so handy. I really am shocked that I managed to make quite a successful attempt at painting, and off the back of my excitement I’ll absolutely be picking up some watercolours this weekend. A friend has already asked me to replicate the flamingo on a larger scale for her new flat, which is terrifying, but I’m going to give it a good go. I’d call that a success!

Does Pinterest lie?

Not really, no. As I said before, you probably need to have a bit of a creative eye, however some of the designs you can replicate or take inspiration from are incredibly simple, but the final result looks fantastic. Take the balloon - it took 5 minutes and I’ve had a couple of lovely compliments on it already.