I love craft projects that can also double as wall art once you’re done—you get your craft time in for the day, learn a new artistic skill, and hang a cute finished piece on your wall to admire at the end. If the idea of watercoloring your own art scared you in the post title, don’t worry. You only need a minimal amount of watercolor skill for this, and if you’re a total beginner, this is a great project to learn on and play around with. I consider my watercolor skills to be pretty sub-par, but this was fun even for me to complete. And the tricky looking phrase in the middle of the watercolor? You’re going to trace it, dude, so don’t let that get you down either.
We’re working with our friends at Pentel and using their awesome watercolor set on this project, which is all the more appropriate on Earth Day! Many of Pentel’s products use recycled materials and are designed with the environment in mind. You can see on the packaging exactly how much of each item is recycled. Anyway, it’s always fun to learn a company you love is doing its part. You can read more about their Recycology commitment here.
First you want to choose a phrase for your wall art. Print out your phrase in a font that you like and in the size you want it to appear on your paper. I would choose a more cursive/handwritten looking font because the more the letters connect, the easier it is to pull off the masking fluid when you’re done (this font is a great choice). Put your printed phrase under your watercolor paper and use a light box or hold it up to a window during daylight to see your phrase through the watercolor paper. If your final print size will be smaller than the watercolor paper (like an 8×10″ size), draw a box the size of your final print first, and then center the phrase in the middle of that area.
If you are using a light box and have your paper flat, you can skip the tracing step and just use your paintbrush to paint in the phrase with the art masking fluid. If you’re using the window, use a pencil to first lightly trace your phrase onto the watercolor paper, then fill in the traced phrase with the masking fluid. Allow the masking fluid to dry until it feels only slightly tacky.
Tape your paper down onto a flat surface like a clipboard or piece of wood to keep it flat while it dries and use a brush, cup of water, and watercolors to create splashes of color over and around the phrase. I find it works best to wet the area you want to color first with plain water. Then dip your brush in water again and pick up some color on the palette to transfer to the paper. I basically just chose a few colors that I liked together (that also make pretty colors when they mix with each other) and painted five splashy corners around the phrase in different colors.
Then, I let them mix together at some point in the middle. Add a more concentrated paint (use less water on your brush) to increase the color and use plain water on a brush to help two colors blend together where they meet up. It’s actually a pretty easy look to accomplish once you play around for a few minutes. Just work on blending the colors with more or less water and push and pull the color where you want it to go.
Allow the watercolor to fully dry, and then rub the masking fluid near the beginning of the phrase to start to pull it away from the paper. It’s a lot like rubber cement glue, so just roll it into a little ball that you can pick up and start to pull on. It should pull up really easily and reveal a perfectly white phrase underneath. So cool! I did love the warm tone colors in the first one I tried above, but the yellow was a bit too light of a shade to really show the phrase once it was revealed. So I redid it again with some darker cool tones so the white would stand out more.
I love the freeform watercolor look that surrounds the phrase, and I extra love that it’s so easy to create. This is a great project to do with a phrase or saying that’s special to you or as a gift for someone else too! I love things that are really customizable as far as color choice and size are concerned. This would be a great project to do on a really large scale as well for a big impact. The masking fluid is such a fun tool to play with, and I can’t wait to think of lots more projects to use it for soon! xo. Laura
Credits // Author: Laura Gummerman, Photography: Laura Gummerman and Janae Hardy. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.