Just Add Water | Midwest Living

Just Add Water

I'm fixated on Pinterest, particularly anything DIY focused. I even have a board titled “I want to DIY.” As much as this board's collection of projects inspires me to try DIY, I've been too concerned that I'll produce a “Pinterest fail”—a project that comically looks nothing like the goal. But I promised myself this year I would start. Let me walk you through my first project, a simple watercolor, in hopes that it inspires those of you who have never attempted a DIY project to take that leap of faith in yourself. 

I decided to start small (the motto "Go big or go home” has no place in the DIY world). I wanted to update the art in my house but did not want to spend a lot of money. In college, I enjoyed working with watercolors and recently have seen projects like this on Pinterest. I thought, Why not start there?

What you need:

Watercolor paint
Watercolor paper
Glass of water to dip your brush in
Watercolor paintbrush
Disposable plate
Masking tape
Krafts paper
Paper towels

I went to my local arts and crafts store for supplies. I purchased a small tube (8 ml) of Prussian Blue Windsor and Newton watercolor paint on sale for $3.49. I grabbed a pad of Canson 9x12 inch Watercolor Paper for $6.99. Getting a pad was intentional on my part. With 15 sheets to a pad, I felt I had the freedom to allow for mistakes when creating—so that if I messed up (and I did), I had plenty of materials to use until I got it right. I already had both the brush and tape at home but, if you need one, plan to spend about $3 for a decent watercolor brush.

What you do:

Tape the corners of the watercolor paper to some Krafts paper spread on the table. This keeps your watercolor paper in place as you make your brush stokes. Place a small amount of paint onto your plate. Cover the ends of your brush in the paint. Do not use any water for the first horizontal stroke of color on your paper; you want it to be dark. (This is where I goofed when I started my project.) Then dip the tip of your brush into the water and apply another stroke just below the first. The color you will get will be a little lighter than your first.

After each stroke across the paper, dip your brush into the water. You may find that your brush gets a bit too much water on it. In that case, blot your brush onto a paper towel to remove some of the excess, because too much water causes runs and unwanted patterns. Through trial and error I found that you really don’t need to add more paint to your brush. Simply adding water should be enough to create the color variations.

The idea is that as the brush strokes continue down the paper, the color gets lighter and lighter with each stroke, creating a gradient or ombre effect. Let your painting thoroughly air dry (a couple hours). Frame and hang it. 

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