It finally feels like spring, and this watercolor garden mail art is here to help us enjoy the season! In today’s tutorial, I’ll walk you through how to make the motif with a series of photos, videos, and text explanations.
In this mail art, neutral kraft paper comes to life with a garden of watercolor flowers and shimmering bees! The playful and abundant motif provides a fun way to celebrate the changing seasons. Here’s how to make it:
1. Draw a Quick Draft
Find a kraft (paper bag-like) envelope, then use a white mechanical pencil to draw a banner in the middle. Once you’ve drawn the banner, start to sketch out flowers, grasses, and vines underneath and around the banner.
Continue to draft the garden until you like the layout. You’re welcome to use my draft as inspiration for your own draft, if you’d like:
Use a small spray bottle to moisten the colors in the palette with water. Alternatively, you can use a tiny spoon or a blunt syringe to moisten all the tones you plan to use for this tutorial.
3. Layer on Watercolors
This is a simple tutorial, but it requires quite a bit of watercolor layering. With that in mind, I decided that it would be easiest to show you how to do this step in a series of three timelapse videos. Each video is only about a minute long and visually explains exactly what to do!
First, paint on a base layer of green, blue, and red watercolors.
For this base layer, I used the following colors from my Winsor & Newton watercolor palette:
Next, use your gold watercolor to fill in the bees’ bodies. Then, use the watercolor calligraphy technique and Payne’s Gray watercolor to trace over the banner outlines. Use that same dark watercolor to finish up drawing the bees. Now, paint Hooker’s Green on the bottom parts of your leaves, then use a wet paintbrush to mix the green with the original lighter tone on the leaves. Use Chinese White watercolor to fill in the bees’ wings and add highlights to leaves and flowers. Finish up by accenting certain flowers with gold watercolor.
Wait for your watercolor to dry, and the Chinese White will have a delightful chalk-like look!
To complete your watercolor garden mail art, use Raw Umber watercolor and your dip pen to draw several additional vines. These delicate vines will help to make the motif feel more abundant. Next, use a paintbrush and Chinese White paint to add little white circles all around the flowers. Then, moisten your brush with water and dip it briefly in Payne’s Gray. Use the watered-down tone to add dimension to the edges of your banner. Once you’ve done that, use Intense Blue watercolor to fill in the recipient’s address.
Add a postage stamp or two that complements the colors scheme, and you’re ready to send this fabulous watercolor garden mail art! As a side note, after you put on the stamps, you might consider waterproofing your paper (“April showers bring May flowers”, after all). I used Microglaze to protect my piece!
I hope that you enjoyed today’s simple tutorial! That pop of vivid watercolor on neutral kraft paper is fantastic, and gold and white values take this artwork over the edge. If you don’t have the occasion to use this motif for mail art, it’s a stylish addition to any sketchbook or bookmark! Have fun, experiment, and enjoy. 🙂