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‘Pretty Painting’ MakeBox

Ok, it’s confession time… When I found out that the September MakeBox was going to be watercolour painting I was not exactly enthusiastic about it. I had a set of watercolours when I was younger but I never really learnt how to use them properly, preferring the bolder, thicker acrylics and oils. I’ve watched loads of videos of people painting with watercolours on social media and I’ve always been full of admiration for the artists because it looks so hard! However, the whole point of me starting this journey was to explore and experience different forms of creativity and push myself out of my crafty comfort zone, so I went into it with an open mind (although I did put off doing it for a few days because I was scared I’d be rubbish at it, ssssshh!).

Inside the box was:

• Watercolour paint set
• Paintbrush
• Pencil
• Rubber
• Sketchbook
• Two sheets of watercolour paper
• Picture frame
• Postcard to embroider
• Embroidery thread
• Needle

This month’s box was created in collaboration with Emma Block, a freelance illustrator and author. The instruction booklet was well laid out, taking you through the basics first. Emma advised to begin by painting swatches of each colour to get a feel for how they would come out. After that I had a go at mixing some colours together and using varying amounts of water to change the shade. I was amazed at how I could create pink with a very diluted red, no need for white! Emma then went on to explain how to create skin tones using burnt sienna and adjusting the amount of water to create paler tones or adding yellow ochre for a more golden skin tone. She also suggested painting a basic colour wheel as a reminder of the primary and secondary colours.

There were two main projects, first to paint the ‘Girl With Mug’ portrait and secondly to paint a leafy wreath with your initial in the middle. The portrait was built up step-by-step from a pencil drawing, adding the washes of colour and then finally adding the fine details like the eyes, nose and mouth and the pattern on the jumper. The nice thing about it was that it was easy to personalise. I did mine with a pale skin tone and blonde hair to represent me, but it would have been easy to adapt for anyone.

The leafy wreath was my favourite part of the box. I was feeling a lot more confident with the paints by this time and this project involved a lot more detail, which I prefer. The design was built up in a similar way to the portrait, starting with the stems and then adding each type of leaf or flower. I particularly enjoyed painting the tiny oak leaves! To finish off the wreath you were supposed to paint your initial in the centre, but mine is really boring (C), so I decided to be ambitious and do my whole name! It came out pretty well, but I was a bit off centre so I added a bee on the end, it is my emblem after all. I chose the wreath to put in the frame as it came out much better than my portrait.

Lastly there was a cute postcard which you could embroider with the green thread, highlighting the grass around the crafty little fox. A nice quick project to finish with.

So, I’m still not sure watercolours are my first choice when it comes to creating art but I’m really pleased that I’ve learnt how to use them properly and I would definitely consider using them if I was making a special card for someone. I feel like I could even attempt a spring wreath!

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