A friend recently gave me Last Chance to See, which is a book written by Douglas Adams. The novel details Adams’ adventures as he travels to various remote locations to find endangered species. I initially prepared myself for a dry, educational read. Instead, I’ve found adventure and comedy! In short, lush and exotic locations have been on my mind; and when I came across this motif by illustrator Viktoria on Pinterest, I was inspired to create some watercolor mail art! Today, I’ll show you how to whip up an envelope like this one. Of course, you can modify the concept to use it on bullet journals, sketchbooks, invitations, or whatever else you feel like making!
1. Write the Recipient’s Name and Address
For this watercolor mail art project, it’s a good idea to start with writing the address. You’re more likely to make a mistake writing out the address than you are painting the vegetation, after all. If you do mess up at this stage, it’s no big deal to start over because you’re already at the beginning! First, do your best to center a circular object in the center of a calligraphy-friendly envelope. Trace around that object in pencil.
Next, trace around the circle with black ink, and draw two lines that will serve to “sandwich” the address.
Now, use a simple Sans Serif hand-lettering style to write the recipient’s mailing address.
Finish up by using George Style lettering to write the recipient’s first name at the top of the circle, and his or her last name at the bottom of the circle.
2. Add Watercolor
First, put a plain stamp in the upper right corner of your envelope. Then, make a quick pencil border about 1/4″ from the edge of the envelope. (Remind yourself not to paint outside this border!) Then, get out your favorite watercolor palette. The palette should — hopefully — have a good shade of gray and at least three shades of green! Moisten the gray tone, wait a minute for the water to soak in, then use it to paint several random shapes and sizes of leaves on your envelope. Feel free to use your pen to make curved black stems for some leaves to connect to!
Once you’ve got a few gray leaves, moisten a true green tone. Use that tone to paint several more leaves of different shapes and sizes.
Moisten a dark green watercolor tone, and use it to flesh out the envelope with several more leaves!
Finally, use a light green watercolor to fill in areas of the envelope that have too much negative space.
3. Embellish the Leaves
The last step of this safari watercolor mail art tutorial is to add some embellishment to your leaves. Once your watercolor is dry to the touch, you can use any black pen to draw veins over the gray and light green leaves!
To finish up, use an opaque white ink (like Bleedproof White) to add veins to the dark leaves. If you’re not confident with a dip pen, I believe that a white Sakura Gelly Roll could also work for this step!
Allow your ink to dry, which should only take a couple of minutes! Then, if you want to, you can use Microglaze to waterproof the envelope. (That’s a step I don’t normally take since I live in dry Colorado, but if you are located in a humid area, it’s not a bad idea!)
I love this watercolor mail art concept because of its elegant color scheme and eye-catching, minimalistic address. You’ve got to appreciate the layers of this envelope; it starts off very simple, with a smattering of gray leaves. Then, you continue to layer on until you’ve created a whole jungle of vegetation! The result is an impressive visual treat that’s attainable for both watercolor novices and experienced watercolorists to create.
If you like this tutorial, give it a go! I know you’ll be impressed with the results, and your envelope recipient will absolutely appreciate your efforts. After all, it’s not every day that you get a jewel like this in your mailbox! 🙂 Enjoy, and thanks very much for reading TPK!
Looking for other watercolor delights? Try these related projects: