A simple still life of a bowl and lemons in watercolor. In this project you’ll practice laying a multi-colored wash connecting several “objects” into one large shape, and then defining the individual objects with smaller washes along their shared edges.

NOTE: This is an exercise video from an older class which would be suitable for practice at postcard sizes. The production quality isn’t so great–this is from back when I was using a cheap webcam and the microphone built into my laptop. The project is still worthwhile, though, so I figured I’d include it.

The original exercise was for one-sixteenth of a full sheet of watercolor paper: 5.5×7.5″. Check your local postal regulations for postcard sizes before choosing stamps; in the U.S. you can mail larger cards, they just need more postage.

If you want to do it postcard size, print the photo at a smaller size. (Each printer and operating system is different, so please consult the manuals for your devices if you need information about how to change print size.)

Photo reference for bowl and lemons project. Drag and drop to copy to your desktop.

The supplies I’m using in this video are the same ones as in Watercolor Jumpstart. You can find a supply list for Jumpstart here.

Supplies for postcard paint-alongs:

  • watercolor paper, about 4×6″ (10×15 cm)
    • Size is not terribly important as far as the painting techniques shown; check postal size regulations in your area if you intend to mail it. 
    • I cut up scraps of watercolor paper left over from larger paintings. Brand doesn’t matter. 100% cotton paper is generally easier to work with, but postcards can be a good place to use up cheaper papers, too. Pre-cut watercolor postcards are usually student-grade paper. Use what you have. 
  • painting support—I like to tape the paper down so it doesn’t slide around; I’m using a piece of cardboard, covered with clear packing tape (instructions here); a plastic clipboard or cutting board also works well. Or a scrap piece of plexiglas.
  • watercolor brush—a round brush, size 8-16 recommended; it’s harder with smaller brushes since they don’t carry as much water (The brush I am using is a size 12 Escoda Prado travel brush. Note: Travel brushes are typically considerably more expensive than the same brush in a non-travel version. You might prefer to buy a brush carrier and regular brushes. You can probably find a zippered folding brush carrier that will stand up and serve as a brush holder for $10-20. I like the ones with ventilation holes to help the brushes dry faster.
  • watercolor paints — 
    • Any kind of watercolor paints are fine—it’s a postcard! Even kids’ paints work. They will fade more quickly than regular watercolors, but you can still learn. Don’t get hung up on using the same colors I’m using. I may have mis-indentified the colors in the video, anyway. I refilled my palette with whatever I could find as I traveled. 
    • In this video, I’m using (if I remember correctly!)
      • M. Graham ultramarine blue
      • M. Graham azo yellow
      • M. Graham burnt sienna