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    DIY, Watercolor Tutorials

    Tutorial: Watercolor Geometric Heart

    I always love a homemade gift. Like, I really love love them. It’s more than just the gift, ya know? Most of us barely have time to wash our hair regularly so when someone takes the time and energy to make something especially for me it makes me feel like I’m really something special.

    While making and distributing beautifully packaged cookies is an excellent way to make people feel like the bees knees, sometimes we need something with a little bit of a longer shelf life..can you guess what I’m talking about? YOU NAILED IT – home made cards (with thoughtful and affirming words inside)! It’s the type of thing people stick on their fridge and don’t take it down for years. No pressure though…. 🙂

    Today’s tutorial is on painting a geometric heart (it’s really kind of a gemstone heart but I didn’t like how that sounded..) It can be used to make beautiful cards for any occasion (or even wall art for your home or as a gift!). Below I have a printable that is the basic structure for the heart. Go ahead and click the button and print it out. For the purposes of this tutorial I will be focusing on making cards but feel free to blow the template image up to any size if you want to use it for wall art instead. Because it’s February I went with red/purple hues but any colors would and be beautiful – just make sure they blend well so you don’t end up with a muddy heart!

    1- Pick 2-4 colors that will blend well on the page. I used 3 different red hues (cadmium red medium, alizarin crimson, rose dore) and a purple (quinacridone violet). You’re also going to want a small-ish brush with a nice and pointy tip; I used a size 3 round.

    • Remember the color wheel? Pick colors that are next to each other and you can’t go wrong.

    2- Trace heart template onto watercolor paper – this can be done placing the papers against a well lit window, or against a lightbox if you happen to have one. Don’t have a printer? You could actually even hold the paper up against your computer screen and trace it without even printing it!

    • For a standard A2 size card, prior to tracing heart, cut paper to a 5.5″x 8.5″ and fold in half along the long side (hamburger style).
    • If you would like to leave room to write words underneath position the top of the heart about 1/2″ from the top of the card
    • If you want to paint wall art – feel free to blow up the image to the size you want and print.

    3- You want to paint each section of the heart individually, leave just a small white space between each one – let the pencil lines guide you in this. Allow water/paint to go almost to the pencil lines without touching them. Remember, paint only goes where theres water.

    • First paint alternating sections so that it can dry before painting the adjacent space. This minimizes the chance of them blobbing together if they accidentally touch (although accidental touches are inevitable and give character so don’t stress 🙂  ).
    • Begin with the center section. First dampen with plain water, then paint the top left portion with one of the reds, the bottom left portion with another red and then use plain water to blend allowing the right side to remain light.

    4- Moving on to the outside sections; you want the stone to look like it is reflecting light and the colors around it. The easiest way to go about this is to start with one color and paint one side of the section, grab a different color (or hue) and paint the other side and then blend with plain water. You can also paint part of a section with paint and the other part with plain water and let it gradually blend. Continue until heart is fully painted.


    • Should you want to make a portion of a section darker after it has been painted (but is still wet), just dab a little bit more color in a corner and let it spread.
    • If a section gets darker than you would like, just dab a paper towel on the wet paint to lift it up and lighten it. (see below)

    5- Write in words if you choose. Below I have some ideas for Valentine’s day!

    Valentines Day Wording Ideas:

    I Choose You
    You’re Mine
    You’re Pretty
    I Like Your Face
    You’re A Gem

    6- let everything dry, erase pencil lines, and you’re done! Be overly cautious in waiting for it to dry, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been impatient and smudged my work!


    Watercolor Tutorials

    Tutorial: Watercolor Roses + Foliage

    I love love love painting florals – it’s definitely what I paint most and painting nature is so stress free because it doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact- funny petals and wonky leaves are what actually MAKE it perfect. Up on the blog this week I have a tutorial for watercolor roses and foliage for you babes to try just in time for some home-made valentines!! ☺️‍ALSO- check out @heymamaco to see a little bio about me on their feed today!

    So now that you have some of the basics of color mixing and blending under your belt (if not, hop back to my previous intro to watercolor post) we can move onto some more thing! This tutorial is on a technique for painting a basic rose and foliage…I’m pretty sure that I kind of made it up, but hey, it works and produces pretty flowers so I stuck to it!

    Below I have the foundational strokes for a rose. One of the most important things to remember when painting flowers is that nature is not perfect! What you imagine a rose to look like in your head probably isn’t REALLY what a rose looks like. We often imagine things to look more perfect than they are in reality. In real life petals are uneven and lives are wonky.

    To start you are going to be make irregular “c” shapes with the brush. Sometimes I like to roll the brush between my ring finger and thumb during the “c” to get a shape with more character – this can give the appearance of fanning petals and different deminsions. The arrows show where I started and the twisted arrows indicate when I rolled the brush in my fingers.

    To paint roses you are going to want to use a round brush with a nice tip on it. My go-to brush for roses is a kolinsky sable hair brush size 6 (found it on sale – woo!). A synthetic brush will work great as well – mainly you just don’t want the brush to be too stiff. I have a video below to show how I paint the roses in action and then step-by-step guidelines under it!

    Once you feel somewhat confident there, move on to actual roses. Before you begin you’ll want to get your brush loaded with water and mix in a small amount of your desired color, just to get the color throughout the brush. 

    Possibly even more than painting roses I love the addition of foliage. It can completely change the feel of a painting depending on what plants and shades of green you use. Using a brighter shade of green gives a springy/summer feel and more muted greens give a fall/winter feel. Don’t be afraid to really widen that range of green, foliage can vary from barely not blue to almost yellow!

    Below are some ideas of different types of basic leaves and foliage. Experiment with different strokes and pressures on the brush. I have added arrows so that you can easily see how I created each plant. Same as before, the thicker strokes are due to pressure on the brush and thinner strokes are from letting up on pressure. For foliage I use a wide variety of brush sizes but it’s always good to have a smaller one nearby (round brush – size 2 or 4) for small leaves and ferns.

    For the berries pictured above, I first started with a darker yellow hue (specifically, indian yellow) and painted about 3/4 of a circle. I then went in with a reddish paint (cadmium red medium) and completed the circle letting the two colors blend on the page. You can also see this in the video above.

    Next we will paint roses that appear to be sideways. The technique of this is basically the same as a straight forward rose with two differences:

    1) The center of the rose is more oval rather than circular


    2) Strokes used to make the farther petals should be kept thin while strokes used to make the foreground petals should be wider.  

    Finally, Put it all together! You can paint free style or sketch the painting first to get an idea of placement. Most of all – have fun with it and allow yourself to make mistakes, weird petals and imperfect leaves because sometimes those end up being the best ones!

    As always, comment below with any questions you might have or shoot me an email.

    Happy painting!!

    Watercolor Tutorials

    Tutorial: Watercolor Basics & Color Mixing + Blending

    Hi guys! I am so excited to be posting this entry – watercolor tutorials were the origional idea that sparked this entire blog! I have always loved art of all kinds but over the years it has turned into a real love for watercolors. The way that move and blend on the page is so free and beautiful and ,I think, good for the soul. As this is my first watercolor tutorial on The Hollardays blog (yay!) I figured I would start at the very beginning. Here you will learn the basics of watercolor painting, color mixing & blending. The beginning is a bit of explaining but stick with me and we will get to the fun part quickly!

    First things first: The color wheel. It may have been introduced to you as good ol’ Roy G Biv.

    It is important to understand color mixing, especially with watercolors as the paints tend to mix together on the page (sometimes, wether you want them to or not!) Colors on the wheel across from each other are “complimentary colors” and when mixed together they generally make a darker neutral. This is important to remember because I always tell people not to use black except for lettering or in the instance that you really want BLACK. Occasionally I will use it if I just can’t get a color dark enough but in most cases, mixing colors without black will get you the color you need and it will have more life and vibrancy than just mixing a color with black. Take a look at the world around you – most shadows are not black or even grey- they are a darker shade of their background. Even white walls typically don’t have flat grey shadows!

    Having a general idea of how colors will mix is vitally important when dealing with watercolor. This give you the ability to predict that will happen when you touch red paint on you brush to green paint on the page. Sometimes you want that for a shadow and other times you don’t. So, it is important to understand when you want colors to touch and when they should keep their distance.

    In general, reds, yellows & oranges are considered warm colors while blues, greens & violets are considered cool colors. However, there can be warmer and cooler shades of the same color. Take green for instance: you can mix a cool toned blue with a cool toned yellow to make a cool green. Same goes for warm blue + warm yellow to make a warm green.

    I encourage you to grab a blue, yellow and red and make your own color wheel mixing the colors on the page to see what you get!

    Next lets talk about blending and how to get those beautiful watery variations in shade and opacity. First of all – DON’T DEFAULT TO WHITE FOR LIGHTER SHADES. White in watercolors really only needs to be used when you are wanting more of an opaque paint. As with the black, occasionally it does help to get just the right light color but start practicing without it. This will allow you to get a feel for how versatile they can be on their own and white can sometimes make a color look flat. Start by making stripes. For the first stripe use concentrated paint on the brush and continue by adding only water to the brush after each stroke. You will see the color lightens drastically.

    The next important technique to understand is wet on wet v.s wet on dry painting. Wet on wet is when you are painting onto a wet surface, lines are softer and the color spreads throughout the water on the page. Wet on dry is when you are painting onto a dry surface, this can be dry paper or paint that has already dried.

    Experiment with this by painting a watermelon.

    First, paint a red half circle. Before it is dry, but not a puddle of paint, dip a clean brush in water and swipe along the edge, partially touching the wet red paint but mostly on the dry paper. This will draw the red paint into it to create the soft line you see in a watermelon rind. Then do the same with a shade of green. You will see the edge on the dry paper is hard while the edge in the wet paper is soft. Once it is all dry go ahead and mix your red and green to make a darker neutral for the seeds and add them in.

    Another great way to play with this technique, and the last one we will get into today, is painting popsicles. This is one of my favorite things to paint because popsicles are so versatile you can almost do whatever you want! For a firecracker popsicle, like the one below, start with a 3 pronged wonky triangle. Next, with a clean brush add water, continuing down the 3 sections. Just barely touch into the red because you want to maintain the clear water for the middle to be white. Then do the same with blue. Add a little popsicle stick and you are done!

    These are just some ideas to get you started. Experiment with fresh wet paint vs almost dry paint to see how the colors mix differently. Play around with this and see what you can come up with. Post a photo of your work to instagram and tag it with #thehollardaysblog so I can see it! Finally, I will leave you with just a few tips to encourage you along the way 🙂

    Paint like YOU – There are so many different styles of painting! Art can be minimalistic or highly detailed and watercolors can do it all amazingly! Try different styles and see what fits with you. Don’t try to paint someone else picture. Use it to inspire you and then create your own. You can only paint like YOU!

    Have fun learning – This is always a hard one for me because the efficient, task oriented, list maker inside of me loves getting things right the first time. But what I have learned is that things take time and watercolors are no exception. Sometimes you will create a masterpiece on the first try (hurrah!!) and other times it will take try after try to get it how you want it – that is totally normal and in the end totally worth the learning process!

    Take note of what you like & don’t like – When you paint something you like, take note of how you achieved it. How wet was the paint when it flowed so perfectly into the next color? How concentrated was the paint on your brush? Were you very focused or painting more freely? What exact colors did you mix that you loved so much? Alternately, when things don’t go as planned ask the same questions and learn from it moving forward.

    Feel free to comment below with any questions that come up and check back with me often!  New tutorials coming soon on lettering and flowers – Yippee!