Hey Friend, try your hand at watercolor with these simple, whimsical designs.
12 Garden Images
Use your finished little masterpieces in journals, on cards to brighten someone’s day, or to just feel the joy of creating with watercolor on paper.
Also check out the videos and FREE resources below to help you live life more abundantly.
Are you looking for a simple yet joyful creative project?
This project is simple enough to be done in one sitting. Here are some fun garden designs that you can print and paint for a quick and easy creative project.
- Paint one little image or more depending on your available time.
- The commitment level is low so the fear of failure flies out the door.
- It can be replicated easily because you use photo-copies or print right from your printer. You can make as many copies as you’d like. No worries about messing up and ruining it. You can just start over again and again.
- It satisfies the craving for creating and playing with color right away.
- In the end the finished product is pretty and has purpose. You can decorate a journal or give them away in a card. Function and beauty – something I really like.
Check out this project in this video. Want to do it too? I’ll show you how.
Paint This Project with Me
In the video at the end of this article I’ll take you through each stroke of my brush so you can see how I painted each of these 12 garden designs. But first I’ll give you some information and instruction to help you get started.
In this article you’ll learn:
- My favorite watercolor techniques I used in this project.
- WHY watercolor is such a great creative medium.
- A list of what you’ll need to complete this project.
- Instructions on how to print up your FREE 12 Garden Designs print & paint page (grab it below).
- How to set up your painting station.
- How to prepare your paint palette.
- And my favorite tip…be painterly!
Basic watercolor tips and tricks to get you started.
To learn how to paint three basic watercolor washes, check out this article.
As you watch the video at the end of this article, look for the following watercolor painting techniques applied to these 12 garden designs. When you paint your own, try some of them yourself:
Drop in color
Touch a paintbrush full of paint into a wet area and the colors bleed together in interesting patterns and designs. In these tiny paintings it’s hard to see this but I do it when I paint the first plant in the blue pot of succulents on the fourth row. I first painted green on the innermost part of the leaves, then dropped in a little pink on the tips.
I dropped in color when I painted the blue pot to get the rich color I was after. And I also dropped the dark blue into the turquoise of the blue butterfly’s wings in the second row. Can you see how I dropped in orange into the yellow petals of the sunflower on the top row?
Apply a less-wet, more saturated-with-color stroke, then quick, before it dries, go back in with a wet brush ( full of paint or plain water) and pull the color out from the first mark. This creates a dreamy wash of color that mixes and pulls with the water. In the video below you can see this when I paint the three roses in the top row and the twig of autumn leaves in the third row.
It’s important to be “painterly” when you do this. I’ll go into this further below, but what I mean by this is to leave bits of paper showing through in places, run the paint with your brush loosely to grab color and let the water move it, and don’t over-paint it with your strokes wiping out the delicate work the color and water did for you. This is were the magic happens!
Build light to dark
With watercolor, when you build layers you start with your lightest (most water-saturated) color and build up color to the darkest (most paint-saturated) color. In between, you need to let the paint dry for the layers to show through, otherwise it will all just wash together into mud. Remember, light to dark in layers.
You can see me doing this with the pink flowers in the top left corner on the first row, and in the leaves of the tiny branches and succulent plants in the pots. I layer light to dark as well as varying color.
I like to add little spatters of watered-down paint when I’ve finished painting. I think it adds character and whimsy. Take one of your smallest brushes, load it with watered-down paint. Do a practice spatter on a scrap paper to make sure you’ve got the size of drop you want. Hold your brush in one hand, for me my less dominant hand, and then tap with your dominant hand on the brush to create a spattering of paint. I keep this to one or two colors and very minimal.
Also, make sure the rest of the painting is DRY, otherwise your spatters will bleed and create not-so-pretty marks. Yes, I’ve done that when I’ve been in a hurry and it’s not pretty. You can see how I spatter at the end of this video.
This is more a tip than an technique. When watercolor paint dries it lightens up in color. Your colors may look paler dry than you’d like unless you add more pigment than you initially thought you needed. I don’t mean to paint with big globs of straight paint, but to add more paint when you’re mixing on your palette to create bolder color than you might initially. When in doubt, add more color as you mix your paint.
Creating texture with salt
Although I didn’t use salt in these tiny pieces, I like to have salt nearby in case I want to add some extra texture on a larger painted surface. All you do is sprinkle salt on the wet paint. Then leave it alone until it’s dry then gently brush off the salt and you’ll have a mottled texture. This is a super fun technique to play with.
Use paper towels
I always have a couple paper towels near when painting with watercolor. A quick dab onto the towel helps control how wet the brush is and how much paint will end up on your paper. You can also use the paper towel to lift wet paint off your paper. Finally, you can dry off your brush after rinsing in the water, then use the thirsty brush to pick up any pooled paint on your page you want lifed off.
Bits & Pieces
The little bits and pieces of color, white space left on the paper, and unexpected shapes made by the paint and water make a painting interesting. It’s the layering. The nudging of color here and there. The surprise blending and pooling of paint. This makes a painting eye-catching.
The idea isn’t to paint a whole shape one solid color, but to breath life into the shape with variations in light and dark, pattern, and color. Paint in bits and pieces to create this intriguing variation.
You can see this in the way I paint the leaves of the succulents in the pots and the twig branches, as well as in the butterfly wings and the trio of roses. Even when I painted a pot there are variations in light, dark, and watermark. I think that makes it exciting to look at!
Watercolor paint is a wonderful medium to create with for a lot of reasons:
Also, studies show that coloring can help you feel calm and relaxed 1. Laying down color and creating with your hands can be therapeutic, especially once you’ve practiced a bit and feel more confident so you can paint comfortably without worrying about failing 2.
That’s just what this watercolor project can do for you. As you learn and practice the art of watercolor washes you’ll gain skill, ability, and confidence, and feel joy in creating along the way.
What you’ll need:
- 12 Garden Designs paint & print master copy, grab it FREE below.
- Paint brushes, such as here or water pens. I LOVE these.
- Watercolor paint, such as here or this travel paint set.
- Painting palette such as here, or a white plastic plate.
- Watercolor-quality paper. Strathmore mixed-media paper 300 Series here is my favorite and gives the best results for this watercoloring project because it has the right surface for the watercolors to move on without being absorbed too quickly AND is just thin enough it can be put through a copy machine or printer. I’ve also had pretty good results with a good white card stock. Another great option is this sticker paper which will turn your little masterpieces into stickers!
- Access to a copy center or your own laser ink printer (this is the printer I have and it works great for this project) to print off the master print & paint practice sheet.
- Jar of water.
- A few paper towels.
How to Print Up Your Free-Printable & Start Painting
This project uses a unique method that eliminates the worry and frustration of writing perfect sentiments or drawing your subject just-right in order to watercolor. It helps you bypass all that to get to the fun of laying color onto paper. I use this method for many watercolor projects. Master it (it’s not THAT hard) and you’ll be set for many watercolor projects found here on my website. You’ve got this!
Instructions for printing your free printable pages to paint (you have two options):
Option #1: COPY CENTER
I’ve had the most success with photocopying the master image onto the mixed media paper at a copy center. The photocopied versions come out clean, crisp, and you can print many copies easily. I also especially like how photocopying raises the ink a bit to create pools for the paint to settle in.
- Print off a master copy of the 12 Inspirational Sayings print & paint page (grab it below) at home. Make sure it’s a clean, dark copy.
- Cut down the Strathmore paper from 11 x 14 to 8 ½ x 11. It’s just one cut on a trimmer. Cut as many as you’ll want to make copies of. I suggest at least 3 sheets for each master page. This is easy with a cutter at the print shop, or you can use a ruler and scissors at home. I’ve looked for this paper pre-cut to 8 ½ x 11 and can’t find it anywhere. If you do, please let me know!
- If you’re using 8 ½ x 11 regular cardstock or the 8 ½ x 11 sticker paper, you’re ready to go.
- Make photocopies of the master practice pages onto the 8 ½ x 11 mixed media paper (or cardstock or sticker paper). Set the paper in the tray outside the copier. Place the master in the top feeding tray. Make sure the copier is configured to accept the paper from the outside tray. It’s really important to only make one copy at a time not a bunch if you’re using the Strathmore mixed-media paper, otherwise the paper will jam in the machine (yes, I know from experience). The machine will take this thick paper but is happiest when it’s one sheet at a time. I like to make several copies per visit to reduce trips to the copy center. I love to always have something to paint on hand.
This is my preferred method because the prints come out clean, the ink doesn’t smear or flake, and the ink is raised a bit making watercoloring on it so satisfying with pockets where the color can pool. Highly recommended unless getting to a copy center isn’t possible or is just too much of a pain. Then printing at home is a great option.
Option #2: YOUR OWN PRINTER
- Prepare the water-color quality paper. If using the Strathmore mixed-media paper you’ll need to trim it down from 11 X 14 to 8 ½ x 11 inches. It’s just one cut on a trimmer. Cut as many as you’ll want to make copies of. I suggest at least 3 of each master page. If using cardstock or sticker paper it’s ready to slip the sheets into your printer’s paper tray.
- If you’re using 8 ½ x 11 regular cardstock or the 8 ½ x 11 sticker paper, you’re ready to go.
- Put the paper in your printer’s paper tray. If using the sticker paper, make sure you’ve got it facing up or down according to your printer’s correct procedure. Yeah, I printed and painted an entire page of stickers to find out I had it backwards and had printed and painted on the back of the sticker paper. Ugh. That was frustrating! Don’t be me.
- Print the 12 Inspirational Quotes practice page onto the paper in your printer following your printer’s instructions.
This second option is more convenient by far and can work beautifully. But some home printers may make the ink smear. I’ve used my laser printer at home with great success and it’s a dream when you’re in a pinch and can’t get to the copy center.
Set Up Your Painting Station
- Squirt a bit of paint from the tubes onto the smallest circles of your palette. The large squares and bigger circles are for mixing. With watercolor it’s Ok if you don’t use all the paint in one sitting because the watercolor paint will dry but you can keep using it later.
- Set up a comfortable station with your jar of water, jar of brushes, your palette with paint, a paper towel or two, and your copy of the 12 Inspiration Sayings practice sheet.
- If you’re using the travel watercolor set and waterpens, your setup is simpler. Just make sure your water pens are full of water and you have your paper towel nearby, a jar of water is nice if you’re just at home at the table, and your copy of the 12 Inspirational Sayings practice sheet.
Prepare Your Paint Palette
- Choose a color that makes you happy. For me my first choice is teal blue. Load your brush with water then dip into the color. Mix in a square on your palette. Add more water and paint until it’s the color you like and you have plenty of it pooled on your palette. It’s nerve wracking to have to mix up more paint in the middle of a wash and usually ends up with bad results with streaks and lines that dried while you were trying to hurry and mix up more.
- Do this with any other colors you want to use. Pre-mixing means your paints are ready when you are which is important with watercolor.
Watercolor Tip: Be Painterly!
What I mean by be “painterly” is to be loose and whimsical. Have fun. Leave bits of the paper showing through, let the paint mix and move. Don’t overthink it or over-paint it. Play with color and watch how the water moves the paint on the paper creating patterns and flowing washes. Feel the joy of the color mixing with the water on your paper.
Paint This Project With Me
Here I’ll show you how I painted these 12 Garden Designs. Look for the techniques I talked about above. And most of all, have fun and be painterly as you play with the color and water on your paper.
This video is shown at 2X speed.
After you’ve painted all the these little garden masterpieces, let them dry, then cut up into 12 individual little squares. They’ll all be different and uniquely beautiful. Keep the ones that make you happy. Toss the rest and try again. With practice you’ll get the hang of it and your confidence will grow.
What can you do with your 12 little paintings???
Here are some ideas…
- Stick them in your journal for decoration and inspiration
- Stick them in a card to give to someone else to brighten their day.
- Or, throw them away and paint again!
The purpose of this practice is to find joy in creating and playing with color. There’s nothing too precious about it and you can easily paint more. Matter of fact, the more you practice watercoloring the more skilled and confident you’ll become.
Grab your FREE Print & Paint Page Here
12 Garden Designs
Hey friend! Grab access to download the master copy of the 12 Inspirational Sayings print & paint page here.
Yes! I want the FREE 12 Garden Designs print & paint page.
This FREE printable is my gift to you when you sign up to receive inspirational notes from me by email (don’t worry! I’ll only send great stuff and never send spam!). When you sign up you’ll have access to my private Gifts for You Collection here at my website where I keep all the printables I’ve made and a whole lot of other awesome resources to help you live life more abundantly.
Do you want to live life more abundantly?
You’re not alone. I’ve got great news for you, my Friend. Watch the video for a virtual hug and words of encouragement from me. You’ve got this!
Yes! Please send the Abundance Toolkit to me.
The Abundant Toolkit is my gift to you when you subscribe to receive inspirational notes from me in your inbox (don’t worry! I’ll only send great stuff and never send spam!). When you sign up you’ll have access to my private Gifts for You Collection here at my website where I keep the Abundance Toolkit and a whole lot of other awesome resources to help you live life more abundantly.
What’s in the Abundance Toolkit?
13 page printable workbook.
3 tools to help you identify and apply principles of abundance in your life right now.
Questions to help you determine where you’re out of balance with abundance.
Specific and personal actions you can take to live life more abundantly starting today.