An Experiment in Watercolor


My oldest – Rachel asked me to create a project for her upcoming wedding – an artistic guest book.  You may know it by a Jewish Ketubah, or have seen it from Quaker weddings as well.  It’s basically a large sized declaration of the couples love, and vows signed by all who witnessed the union and celebration.  It makes a great keepsake of a very special day.

Well, any of these online go for a pretty hefty price tag.  I saw the norm between $300-$500!  SO, enter the crafty step-mom.  The kids had given me watercolors for Christmas (how ironic), as most of these I found online were done by watercolor artists.  Thus, my experiment in Watercolor.

I’ve been playing around learning exactly how to watercolor.  I of course know a little from watercoloring my images on my cards.  Since I do consider myself somewhat creative and artistic…I thought, why not?  Well…the art world is a whole other animal!  And me with my K-8 art training!  Thankfully I am a crafty paper crafter who happens to love making creative scenery with dye based inks – a head start!  But learning the world of color, perspective, negative and positives, notation, and so much more without the proper education has been quite…well how do we say it – thrown into the deep end with cement shoes! 

So, since I’ve been laid up with a nagging thumb and wrist injury that’s kept me off my blogs on the computer and stamping…I you tubed, googled, pinterest and researched till the cows came home – mostly with my left hand and on my smart phone!  I stumbled upon some great watercolor artist instructional sites and waded into the water.  To my surprise, painting doesn’t hurt me the way stamping does at the moment – I can keep being creative while I heal– yeah!!!  My first project – a basil leaf.  Now, if you know me…you know that I don’t do anything half way, and certainly not simple!

Getting into botanical watercoloring is precise and I decided to learn from a great self taught UK artist – Anna Mason.  She came up with her own technique to layer (that’s an understatement) colors over one another to create gorgeous 3D watercolors.  Since Rachel wants a floral motif, I wanted to paint as realistic as I could and Anna’s technique suits my purposes perfectly.

The small one was my first go at it – and then I went life size – 10 inches in height.  I still have a way to go to master this technique – but this leaf looks amazing in real life close up!

I also ventured out to take a local watercolor class.  It’s always great to learn something from someone trained.  And honestly, nice to be a student too – doesn’t happen often!  Tanya – my local art teacher is well…let’s just say uber talented!  She bit off a little more than we could chew in the class – as no one was close to finishing either project in the 5 hour class!  Yes, you read that right!  Boy did I learn a ton!

Our class was on positive and negative.  We basically threw some paint down randomly in certain areas and created scenery out of the space!  It was quite interesting.  I think you’ll laugh at my piece that I created in class…but be amazed at what it turned into!

Here is the initial piece with the spaces that I identified as rocks (Don’t be scared – keep reading…it turns out okay!)…


Now…here’s what I turned in into – I’m still a bit amazed!  Note – rocks suck…they are SUPER hard to do, and I really had to keep perspective and light in my mind.  Creating a shape that actually looks like something out of a blob isn’t all that easy!  But it’s amazing what your mind does start to see. 


You can see it all start to take shape.  I removed some color and ugly patches – not that my paper liked that…and once I did a more drastic transformation – here is the finished piece…


I know…there were colors in places that did not belong – and for all the stuff that went wrong – I just love it.  It was definitely a work in progress and I learned so much from the experience.  I think that’s why I love the end result.  I doesn’t always have to be perfect – I know…pick yourself up off the floor!  Here they are side by side – cool to see the transformation.

I’m still working on the forest scene that was our second project, and I”ll share that someday in the future when I’m ready to!  I hope you enjoyed this watercolor journey with me today.  I’m excited to keep going and learn more – always the student!

You’ll have to let me know what you think – Don’t be shy…I’m very much in the beginning stages of this – do you watercolor or paint?  I’d sure love to know!!

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About Ingrid Blackburn


  1. Carol B says:

    Hi Ingrid, I so understand loosing the use of your dominant hand, last March I broke my wrist (dominant), so all my creativity was on hold for a while. I love that you found something you could do and what an interesting project to plan for. Your water coloring is fabulous and it will be fun to see where this bump in the road takes you.

    • WOW! I know what an adjustment that is! I’ve injured several parts over the years, and I find that when it’s something like your dominant hand, it’s really unimaginable. I’ve been in a cast before for a ligament tear to it, so I can relate, and of course shattered my non-dominate wrist years ago and had pins and an external fixator – so believe you me, when I say I can relate! I wish you a continued recovery as I know from experience even a year later it’s still a process! I’m glad you love the watercolors…I made some super cute cards too…you’ll have to stop by over the next week to see those as they go live. I’ll share the wedding project as it nears too! Have a fabulous day. 🙂
      Ingrid Blackburn recently posted…Warmth and Wonder: Just out of the woodsMy Profile

  2. WOW! Awesome job, Ingrid! That looks like perfection to me! Thank you for sharing your talents!
    Kristie recently posted…Guest Artist: Catherine Pooler!!!!My Profile

  3. Irma S. says:

    Hi Ingrid. I’ve been following you on The Creative Grove for about three weeks, and I’ve always found your work and your words creatively inspirational- thank you for sharing what you love to do! Your watercolour work in this example is LOVely! I once took a 1 hour course learning one two techniques and following one example to do it ourselves: I’m so not a watercolour artist yet, but I loved that monochromatic example so much I went out and bought myself some starting inks, paintbrushed, and paper. What fun it provides! And now those supplies are in my basement and since making some thank you cards for wedding gifts 7-1/2 years ago…(mediocre, by any standards- but it was the best I could do then…) I’ve largely ignored them. Now I am encouraged to try again. Thanks -again! for the inspiration. And thanks for being so open with your own feelings as you worked through the process of this, your first, project. Super job, and thanks, totally, for sharing. –Irma

    • Thanks so much for your kind words Irma! It can totally be mesmerizing, I get it, believe me! I too am SO not a watercolour artist yet, but with a little love, patience and lots of trial and error…I’m sure the artist will emerge. My favorite thing throughout this process has been at the end of each project. I had this little breakthrough at different moments where I said out loud with a huge smile – just when it all seemed so frustrating and going wrong – “Oh…I get it!” The fun part for me is that something clicked, the light bulb went on and I just wanted to finish and get going on it one more time! I LOVE that feeling. It was so gratifying and exciting to know that I learned a new skill. I hope you share your art with me, I’d love to see it as it evolves! Know I’m here cheering in your corner. Happy watercolouring! 🙂 🙂
      Ingrid Blackburn recently posted…Warmth and Wonder: Just out of the woodsMy Profile

    • By the way…Love your name, my mother is Irmgard and goes by Irma in the states as her name is too hard for most to remember. 🙂
      Ingrid Blackburn recently posted…Warmth and Wonder: Just out of the woodsMy Profile

  4. Wow, you never stop amazing me – great job.

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