HLS Watercolor Challenge – Mixed Media Butterflies

Have you ever watercolored with stencils before? Today I’m guest designing for a new watercolor challenge over at Happy Little Stampers. I don’t know of many watercolor challenges out there, so if watercolor is one of your loves, I encourage you to check it out! The design team is pretty talented over there, and I’m loving what they are creating every month.

I thought you would love a video in addition to a written tutorial, so here you have it. The watercolor challenge is always anything goes, and if you need a little structure – there’s always a little twist. You can play along or not, up to you – this month it’s dies.

Happy Little Stampers Watercolor Challenge

Happy Little Stampers challenges are always a lot of fun, and I encourage you to enter. This month there’s a prize too, you have nothing to lose!

HLS Challenge

I have been undergoing a massive move from Germany back to the US (plus all our things out of storage up from Florida), hunting for a new home, and living in a hotel for three months – yes, it’s been interesting to say the least! So, I haven’t been able to film much the past few months…boy did it feel good to FINALLY get to film in my new stamping studio in my new home. I’m still buried under boxes and the contractor is still doing work in our home (though we’re in the home stretch….finally).

Here’s a video for you of how I created this month’s project – step by step. You’ll learn to watercolor with stencils, and create some fun vibrant die cut embellishments with Brusho Crystals – which I’m totally addicted to!

Click Here to watch the video in HD on YouTube & Subscribe to my Channel

How to Watercolor with Stencils & Brusho

So, my original thought was to create cool watercolored die cuts – enter a little embossing and Brusho for the pop in color. It’s SO easy to watercolor with Brusho and you always look like a watercolor master.

To compliment it, I thought you’d enjoy seeing how I sometimes watercolor with stencils – a not so perfect technique, but it really adds a lot to the background. My thought was to create a cool lattice for the butterflies from the Butterfly Birthday stamp set.

watercolor with stencils

And I’ve been just dying to use my new Mixed Media Fun stamp set – I just love all the components and words – it’s the perfect card for my niece.

  • First – secure your 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor paper to your work surface, and your stencil over that.
  • Apply your color, I used several shades of Distress inks and created a varied Blue background
  • I didn’t do this in the video, but next remove your tape securing your stencil down so you can lift it after the next step a bit easier.

watercolor with stencils - ingrid blackburn

  • To truly get a watercolor with stencils look, spritz with a mini mister and get the water going. Be careful of adding TOO much water. If you overdo it – water will run everywhere – especially under your stencil design.
  • Carefully lift up your stencil – straight up.
  • You can blot off any excess water with a paper towel – but be careful to lift it from your pattern – you’ll pull all the color. I use this mostly for the sides where the water is pooling. Dry immediately with a heat tool or naturally.

Watercoloring with Brusho

  • Next, on another piece of scrap watercolor paper, stamp two butterflies from Butterfly Birthday in Versafine Onyx Black ink. I love this ink to emboss with – it’s a pigment ink and is super crisp and deep in color.
  • Emboss in black and heat set.
  • Sprinkle some brusho powders over your butterflies and spritz as in the video to activate the pigments.
  • Dry with a heat tool or naturally
  • Cut out using the co-ordinating Butterfy Dies & a Die Cut Machine
  • Emboss some of the greetings from Mixed Media Fun in white on Black card stock
  • Cut them out using long handled scissors – this helps to give you a straighter edge.

Watercolor with Stencils & Brusho

  • Adhere your pieces like the card. TIP – use Mono Liquid Glue to adhere the watercolor to the black, bend straight or place something heavy on to help straighten your card stock. You may also want to pop up the main watercolor panel onto fun foam for a little drama.
  • Bend up the sides of your butterflies and pop the sides up with some dimensional foam. I have the tops of the wings higher than the bottom (doubled the foam) and adhered with some glue in the center. This gives the illusion of flight.
  • Add some sparkling clear sequins from Pretty Pink Posh with Rangers Multi Matte Medium (dries clear).

Watercoloring with Stencils

Ultimately, my watercolor got a little into the pattern, but I don’t let stuff like that get me down anymore. You can cover a lot of it up with the die cuts and words, and it gives it a more organic feel anyway. It’s art, don’t stress over it, have fun!

Let me know what you think in the comment section below. I hope now, you’ll try to watercolor with stencils yourself, and that you enjoyed this tutorial!

Now head on over to the Happy Little Stampers Watercolor Challenge to see what the Design Team whipped up for you. I can’t wait to see what you create – I’ll visit your blog and definitely check it out! 🙂

HLS Watercolor Challenge

And if you liked this tutorial, subscribe to my YouTube channel and newsletter list for more exclusive tutorials. See you very soon!


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To make finding the supplies I used in this project a bit easier for you, here are a few clickable links. Those that have multiple shopping options are indicated with letters – EH – Ellen Hutson, SSS – Simon Says Stamp. Compensated Affiliate Links are used when possible. Click here for disclosure. Happy Shopping!

CAS Mix Up


March 1st was a great day! Two exciting things happened – we welcomed little Lylah into the world – more about that below….and my super creative and very CAS styled friends Bonnie Klass and Loll Thompson launched their new challenge – CAS Mix Up – a clean and simple mixed media challenge. So, naturally I created a birthday card to welcome little Lylah – after all – it literally was her birthday!

The new CAS Mix Up challenge is dedicated to clean and simple cards with a mixed media twist. Now you may think that mixed media can’t be CAS, but at it’s heart, mixed media is just that – mixed mediums. Why can’t it be CAS? That’s the challenge – no pun intended! For the first one this month, we’re challenged to use watercolor, stamping and your choice – I chose watercolor stenciling – and it’s actually a negative image that was stamped from a stencil!

march 2016


This project is actually a bonus panel from a regularly stenciled project using sponged distress inks. I had all this ink left over on my stencil, so I spritzed it to get it wet with a fine mist spritzer, and stamped the stencil onto a piece of watercolor. Here’s how I did it.

Negative Watercolor Stamped Stencil Technique – 

  • Create a project where you use the stencil in a positive way – or just add ink to your stencil directly without worrying about the “stenciling” part. I used the Skinny Chevron stencil by Create a Smile to give off a skinny positive image like this one I created for a challenge over at StampNation (Of course it’s double stenciled – but you get the point):


  • For this project, I used More Mustard, Fossilized Amber, Spiced Marmalade, Worn Lipstick, Mermaid Lagoon and Seedless Preserves
  • This will leave lots of color on the negative part of your stencil that you would normally just wash or clean up.  Instead – mist your stencil with a fine mist spritzer to get the ink to bead up on the stencil.


  • Lay a piece of 140# cold pressed watercolor paper onto your stencil to stamp the stenciled image. You can also pick up your stencil and stamp, but I didn’t want the colors to run when I picked it up. Hold your paper there a few seconds to allow the water to soak in.
  • You are left with a negative image – the part you couldn’t stencil!


  • Adhere to an A2 card base, add a stamped greeting and die – both also from Create a Smile – I just LOVE their fonts. This is from the birthday trio dies and the Mini Birthday stamp set.
  • Add a few sparkling clear sequins by Pretty Pink Posh and you’re all set!

I love the way this card turned out. Look at how bold the colors are in the sneak peek image above and how muted the very same colors are with a little water spritzed onto them. Truly amazing! And that’s mixed media at it’s core. Not so scary, huh?!!

I’d love for you all to play along in Loll and Bonnie’s first challenge over at CAS Mix it Up – so head on over and check it out! I’m also playing along in a few other challenges – Laura’s Loft, and NBUS – as this is the first time I’m using this stencil and die by Create a Smile!

Feb.-Challenge-Board button aqua use this the

I can’t wait to see what you create!


On a personal note –

I know this blog is all about paper crafting, but from time to time we all have big moments in our lives. Yesterday was definitely one – our first grandchild! Yes, I’m a grandmother at the tender age of 46! Michael is a bit older than me, and I’ve been blessed to have two beautiful and amazing girls as my bonus daughters for the past 18 years. Our youngest – Allyson and Jeff welcomed their first child into the world yesterday – Lylah RaeAnn.

First Family Photo

Lylah is a character from a book that Allyson read in high school and just fell in love with the name. Raeann is in honor of Rachel and Annie – Allyson & Jeff’s sisters – isn’t that just sweet. I love the name!

Mom & Lylah

We can’t wait to fly to New York and meet our precious little grand daughter Lylah. Feel free to leave me any grandmom (I’m going to go by Omi – German) advice in the comments below!

Thank for stopping by , now go get those fingers inky and have a great day!

Ingrid Blackburn - The Creative Grove

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