Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Handpainted Watercolor Valentines Cards - How To

I mentioned these cards in my post about opening my Etsy shop yesterday, but I wanted to come back and tell you a bit more about them.  There's not many steps to making them so this isn't a tutorial per se, but I will give you a quick overview of what I did and some of the designs I came up with.  One of my favorite things about these cards is that they are a great way to take advantage of the delicate nature of watercolor, but you don't have to be a watercolor expert (by any means) to make them.   These would even be a fun project for kids to make smaller valentines to give out at school (you could just paste them on a piece of cardstock, rather than a card).

The materials I used are pretty simple - 4 bar size cards from Paper Source,  watercolor paper, watercolor paints, a paint-mixing tray (optional), and glue (I used scrapbooking glue but regular craft glue should work too).  I cut the watercolor paper into rectangles about 1/4"-1/2" smaller than the top of the cards before I painted them, but then I trimmed them as needed to make the design centered etc after I had painted them.  I used the palette tray to mix up a range of hues of pink, purple and red, and different saturation levels.  I got my nice dark reds by adding a bit of green to the bright red/pink color that I got using the paint straight, and I added blue to the purple to get more of a lavender color (apologies if the color-mixing info is too basic, but thought I would include in case you have trouble with that part).  Another tip - if your hearts are turning out too dark, you can also rinse and squeeze out your brush and then go back (while it is still wet) and kind of suck up/lift off some of the paint with your brush.  After the watercolors had dried, I glued them to the cards and let the glue dry... Some of my edges curled up so I pressed them under books while they dried to make sure everything was nice and flat.

I think this card was my favorite.  I had fun coming up with a whole range of colors to include and finding places to tuck each heart.  For the larger hearts, I painted the outline first and then filled in... a nice thing about watercolor is that if it looks somewhat uneven, you can adjust while it is still wet to make one side a little bigger, and it won't show in the end.  If you are worried about painting hearts freehand a freeform card like this might be good to practice making lots of hearts and getting comfortable with it.

I also really like how this grid card turned out... kind of reminds me of those Mrs. Grossman's tiny heart stickers I used to get as a kid.  I like how the one red heart stands out among all the purple ones and how the orderly arrangement contrasts with the handpainted imperfect nature of the hearts.  For these little ones I didn't really outline first, I just painted one side and then the other and adjusted if necessary.  I did the grid design freehand, painting row by row starting at the top (and leaving a gap for the red heart), but if you would find it easier to have a guide you could cut a piece of scrap paper the same width as your watercolor paper, use a ruler to measure out markings (for both the even and odd rows), and then hold it just above or below the row of hearts as you paint.

These overlapping hearts were fun too (OK they were all fun! I really enjoyed making these)... For the overlapping hearts, I painted the left heart first (because I am right-handed, this was easier for me).  I let it dry and then I made an outline of the right heart and lightly painted over the overlap area, then waited for that to dry before painting in the rest of the heart so that the overlap didn't bleed into the second heart.  Or sometimes I painted it all at once but just tried to paint right up to the edge of the overlap area but not really connect them until it was mostly dry, if that makes sense.

I made a few different designs of individual hearts, this one is pretty simple - I just painted to large heart and let it dry, then painted the outline on top.  I also made one (don't have a photo yet) which has a kind of scalloped edge around it which is fun too.

I am sure you can think of lots of other design ideas here too - both with just hearts or what about a heart as a little flower with a leaf and stem or a heart as a balloon?  Have fun!  And if you love these but don't have time to make them, you can always pick some up in my Etsy shop :).

Have a great day!

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Today's Creative BlogTute yourself tuesday red and white


  1. Pretty Valentines and lovely blog!

  2. these are so sweet! wish I'd seen this last week. I'm almost done with my valentines now, but next year I'll be doing watercolor for sure!


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