Crafty (& Handy) My Life

Watercolor Painting Inspiration

I went to Michael’s a few days ago to pick up some Christmas picks to spruce up a so-so garland on the stairs. (I was going for simple and tasteful, but pro tip: what’s left of the 70% off Christmas decorations, a week or so before the holiday, is probably not going to be simple and tasteful.) While I was there, I picked up a pad of watercolor paper and a $5 palette of paint.

I used to paint and draw throughout high school, and I liked doing architectural renderings in college. And of course I had my whole stationery business, which was a combination of my illustrations and graphic design. I haven’t done much drawing or painting lately though, aside from the tote bag illustrations and layout that I did for West Elm a couple of months ago. I miss making art for its own sake! I figured that having some paint and paper on hand was a good start, at least.

Then Patricia Zapata posted this inspiring video yesterday, on Facebook.

• Fawn and Flora ~ work in progress from Oana Befort on Vimeo.

I watched it, and then I started sketching. I’m not concerning myself with original compositions at this point; I’m drawing flowers and floral arrangements that I’ve pinned. I’m not making anything to sell, or creating free desktop wallpaper downloads. I’m doing this because I miss it, and drawing, coloring, and painting (whether with crayons, pencils, markers, or paint) is fun.

Even when I fancied myself an artist as a teenager, I didn’t work with watercolors much. Thankfully, Oana Befort, the artist from the video above, wrote last year about her favorite art supplies.

Oana Befort's Favorite Art Supplies
• Oana Befort’s Art Supplies

I’m going to play around with my cheapie watercolor set as a beginner/hobbyist, but that Schmincke set looks intriguing, doesn’t it? I found myself rewatching and pausing the beginning of that video to see what brand she was using, and it looks like that’s the one.

Little tubes of watercolor always catch my eye too. The colors are so beautiful.

Eva Juliet's Watercolor Palette
• Eva Juliet’s Watercolor Palette

* Update * Here’s my first attempt. Not a bad way to spend a little time this morning! The one on the left was first, and it got a bit muddied up. The one on the right, I like better. And once I got started, I kept on going.

Sources & Paint ColorsNeed design help? Let's work together.

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  • Linnea
    December 18, 2013 at 11:20 am

    I love watercolors! So much. But I haven’t had the opportunity, or made the effort, to fit that in to my chasing-a-toddler busy life. I should do that! Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Laura @ Rather Square
    December 18, 2013 at 11:20 am

    Cool! Will you post some of your paintings once they’re done? I’d love to see. I’m an artist who hasn’t made much art in the last few years (life + time + work + kid + house), but I used to work a lot in gouache, which are opaque watercolors, thicker and less water-y. Quick drying time but more of a painterly look and feel.

    • Making it Lovely
      December 18, 2013 at 12:00 pm

      I snapped a shot of my first try on Instagram. Here ya go!

      My First Watercolor Painting Attempt

      I’ve never used gouache, but it’s always been on my list of things to try. Maybe if I stick with the watercolor for a bit, I’ll branch out.

      • Ashley Wilson
        December 18, 2013 at 1:19 pm

        I would second the gouache suggestion. It is what Anna from Rifle Paper Company uses. I picked up a sample box from Michaels recently and have been having so much fun! I used kraft paper to wrap my gifts and painted little trees and holly on them. Anyway, enjoy! Isn’t doing art just so relaxing and freeing?

  • Bethany
    December 18, 2013 at 11:40 am

    Beautiful! I think you just inspired me to get some painting supplies and create some art. I use to draw and paint but have let it go. Everyone needs an artistic outlet!

  • Angela Fehr
    December 18, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    Oh, how lovely. It’s mesmerizing to watch someone paint, isn’t it? I’ve been painting in watercolour for 19 years and absolutely love the medium.

  • Caitlin
    December 18, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    absolutely gorgeous! i have been wanting to pull out my watercolors for a while now and you have totally inspired me! you are so talented, lady!

  • Laura
    December 18, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    You are talented in so many ways!

  • Amber
    December 18, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    That Schmincke set is fantastic! I have one that lives in my purse with my sketchbook so I can take advantage of any inspiration/opportunity. It’s held up perfectly to several years of constant use jostling in a bag, travel, etc.

  • Making it Lovely
    December 18, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    More experimenting from today! Some turned out better than others, but I’m learning a lot.

    More Watercolor Experimenting

    • Marcee ... ILLINOIS
      December 18, 2013 at 2:13 pm

      I could never ever draw plants. It really baffled me. Just could not grip it.

      When you are at design (interior) school, your talent depends on how renderings, and furniture selection and placing look. Then there is the artwork itself. I’m tellin ya, there were so many amazing people I went to school with. They rocked it everyday.

    • erin
      December 19, 2013 at 6:10 am

      Just lovely!

  • Katharine
    December 18, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    I’ve taken a couple of travel journaling workshops at a conference I go to each year. We walk around the city with little half-trays of watercolors and limited supplies and sketch and paint what intrigues us. I’d never done watercolors before these workshops (well, aside from the kind of watercolors you do as a kid), and I love it! Practically speaking, I love the compactness of what I need to have on hand the easy setup and cleanup. Artistically, I love the challenge of planning and layering colors. I found myself with some time to kill the other night and whipped out a couple of small Christmas-y paintings (we’re talking 4×6, max).

    I’m a print designer and get to be (have to be) creative every day, but it’s very different from painting and drawing. It was so great to be able to do these watercolors on a whim and reengage that artistic part of my brain.

    tl;dr: I feel ya.

  • Marcee ... ILLINOIS
    December 18, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    Ahhh …. relaxing to watch anyone paint!

    Yeah. I have done my share. Not at all that talented. There are a zillion fab artists. Spending 3-1/2 years at design school, and also window display, I met so many folks that have amazing capabilities. Talent to a T!

    Ohwell. Maybe in my next life.

  • Kristin
    December 18, 2013 at 2:49 pm

    I adore watercolors. I used to do renderings of homes and schools for people, and then nursery decor – names and such – for awhile. I don’t do it as much anymore, but it’s my favorite medium.

    Last year I did all my Christmas cards in watercolors – with masking fluid – now that’s addicting. My girls loved rubbing the masking off when they were finished.

    Wouldn’t it be awesome to paint a collection (even little thumbnails) of each of your new rooms as they evolve and are finished? You could even do little one point perspectives, and then arrange them in frames so they look like the cutaway of your house – like a dollhouse.

    Hmmm, I may have to do that now.

  • Jeran McConnel
    December 18, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    Oana is the best! I love everything she does. You are quite the artist yourself. Well done. The striped shoes are so cute!

  • Stephanie
    December 18, 2013 at 9:14 pm

    Of course they’re both really nice but there’s something about the one on the right … the colour palette is very unusual/original. Thanks for posting this, it’s really inspiring!

  • Katie Stephenson
    December 18, 2013 at 9:36 pm

    Wow these are really great. Nice work. I love the oxford shoes and the bouquet with the berries. What a fun hidden talent.

  • kate
    December 18, 2013 at 9:51 pm

    I’m a retired illustrator, I think your spots are charming!

  • Sheneela Akram
    December 19, 2013 at 4:24 am

    Oh I am so missing painting and drawing from school these days too. This is so inspiring. Can’t love that video more. :-)

  • Megan
    December 19, 2013 at 7:25 am

    Such lovely little studies! Good for you! I just got back into painting myself and have been working at figuring out my “style.” It’s been very fun and very addicting. I’ve found that with 2 little kids (similar ages to yours!) that it’s just so relaxing for me to get lost in for a little bit. It’s nice to turn the mind off. I wish I had more time for it now that I’m really into it. But, this is the time of life we are in and I know I’ll have more time in the future once kids are in school full time, right? (as I gaze longingly over at my paints)

  • Tania
    December 19, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    I bought a watercolor cheap set about 6 months ago and have had some fun playing around, but it’s been awhile. I think I will go home and play more tonight. I love mixing the colors and adding more and less water…so beautiful. I would love to take a class or something!

  • Julia Reed
    December 19, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    Oh, Nicole, that is my company’s Pigma Micron pen. Yay! I’d be happy to send you some really nice Koi watercolors if you’d like? Message me.

  • Ash
    December 19, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    Love this post – the paintings of shoes are AWESOME – you are one very talented lady

  • Kellie
    December 23, 2013 at 10:26 am

    What is the watercolor set you are using?

    I LOVE your pictures.

  • Alisa
    December 27, 2013 at 11:25 am

    Wow–now that’s a different approach to watercolor than I’m used to. I’m a watercolorist, but that video uses watercolor more like… markers. Different strokes for different folks, I suppose! :) Your studies are very cute. You might like working with watercolor pencils, given your style. Caran d’Ache only ;) Skip Michaels, for the love of God!

    As for supplies, I can’t recommend Cheap Joe’s enough. And they’ve been having killer sales all month!!! If you’re going to spring for some Schmincke, now’s the time. I’m a Winsor & Newton girl myself (though never EVER what they sell at Michaels. That’s student grade) and Arches 140 lb cold pressed. Stupidly expensive, but makes all the difference in the world. Wooooo, watercolor!!!

  • Sandi Henderson
    January 10, 2014 at 5:00 pm

    Yay! Watercolor is wonderful. Finding “your brand” of paints can be super pricey. I have about 100 tubes and would be happy to squirt some different choices out for you to try whenever you’re ready to move on to the next paints. They really do make a huge difference. Enjoy.

  • Giveaway! A Watercolor Palette and Sketchbook | Making it Lovely
    January 21, 2014 at 9:07 am

    […] been enjoying my new watercolor hobby, since posting to that time-lapse video I found so inspiring. It’s only been about a month since I started, during which I’ve […]

  • casacaudill
    January 21, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    Thanks for posting. I “painted” in college and really enjoyed it, but never got into water colors. A few Christmases ago I asked for a watercolor set and got a beautiful one (the tubes) but I find that I’m having a really hard time getting decent – never mind good – at it. This time lapse video gives me a lot of instruction on what I’m doing wrong.

  • Alicia
    October 23, 2015 at 6:50 pm

    What is 8, 9, 12 products called? Please i need to know what is it called.

  • Tristan B.
    May 16, 2016 at 3:20 pm

    Your talent is endless! I am truly am amazed!