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Art Journal Every Day: Watercolor Rocks

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Watercolor paints are one of my absolute favorite things to use in my art journal.  They are wonderfully versatile, inexpensive, and just plain fun!  I have several sets of watercolors for several different occassions.  But the ones I use at home are the Koi Tube Watercolors by Sakura. 

What's the difference between tube and pan watercolors?  There's a great article here, but personally I find the tubes a little more strongly pigmented and it's easier for me to cover a large space and mix my own colors.  But it's a totally personal choice.  If you go with tube watercolors, you do need to use a palette of some kind.  I love my travel palette with a lid!  It's similar to this one.

Here's a quick video I recently made for Sakura about using the tube watercolors:

I've loved watercolors since forever.  Most of my early art journal pages were simply (waterproof) pen + watercolor paint.  Here is one of the first art journal pages I ever made, way back in 2007:

This was an 8x8 square of watercolor paper and I took each page and put it into an 8x8 scrapbook album!  So my first art journal is actually kind of a scrapbook!  And when I travel I always take a black pen and a set of watercolor paints.  That's all a girl really needs.

I did the page above in the airport while I waited for my airplane to begin boarding.

I'm sure you've noticed that I use watercolor for faces all the time!  I used watercolor for many of the faces from June:

This is the absolute first face I ever painted (done with watercolor).

I was at a crop and I remember being so proud of myself.  I turned to my Mom and said, "This is the best painting I've ever done."  She looks kind of like a monkey to me now, but at the time I was delighted!

Here are a few more faces:


I've heard that the white paint in the watercolor set isn't really watercolor, but I still love the way it looks!

I also use watercolor for lots of backgrounds and overall patterns.  This is the cover of my current art journal:

I painted the colorful lines with watercolor paint on fabric!  The face is stitched (a lesson from my "It's Sew Easy" class).

And here is a recent art journal page using only watercolor paints (no other supplies, well besides a brush and water):

You can see how beautifully the colors blend together in the stripes! 

Watercolor paints and stamps are also a great combination!

Just remember to stamp with something that doesn't react with water.  On the first page I used a waterproof ink (Ranger Archival) and on the second page I used clear embossing powder (which doesn't react with water).

A couple quick tips before I go:

  • Use lots of water.  Don't be afraid of it.  Use it liberally and let the paint wander.
  • Paper really matters.  And cheap watercolor paper stinks.  Cardstock is frustrating.  Go for the good stuff, it's so worth it!
  • Work in layers.  The color will deepen with each added layer.
  • Experiment!  Watercolor is quite forgiving.

I hope you feel inspired to get your paint on.  I know I do.  Writing this post has made me think of trying a new experiment in August involving using only watercolor in my art journal and seeing what happens.  But I'm not sure.  I'm a little afraid of letting go of all my other fun toys!  I don't know.  What do you think?  Could you limit yourself to just a box of watercolors and a waterproof black pen for a whole month?  I do it when I'm on the road -- but even then I usually bring a stamp set or a few other toys.  Hmmmmm...good idea or bad idea?  Let me know what you think!

Thanks for stopping by!