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Paint a Watercolor Holiday Card

Paint a Watercolor Holiday Card

The magic of the Holidays is almost upon us!  Today, I’ll show you how to make a very simple card with beautiful Jingle Bells using just one color.

Hi! I’m Vanessa Lesniak and I am so excited to take you step by step through the process of painting this magical piece. 



  •  4 x 5.5 piece of watercolor paper OR watercolor postcard OR watercolor greeting card
  •  The Pigeon Letters Studio monoline pen in size 03
  •  The Pigeon Letters Studio brushes in sizes 16 and 6
  •  Pencil
  •  Paper towel
  •  Opaque white
  •  Optional: circle make and ruler
  •  Payne’s Grey watercolor paint (used: M. Graham Payne’s Grey)



Wanna watch the full walkthrough?




Step 1: Sketch the Bells

Draw two circles, staggered across the paper. Draw a rounded rectangle in the middle of each circle.  Draw a hook (two upside down “u’s”) on top of each circle.  Draw two upside down hearts in the lower half of the circle with a line extending from the middle and meeting at a point along the bottom of the circle.




Step 2: Go Over the Sketch With Monoline Pen

Before using a monoline pen, be sure to test that it is waterproof on a scrap of paper.  The Pigeon Letter pens are waterproof.  If your pen is NOT waterproof, save this step for last.  If it is waterproof, go over every line of your sketch with your pen.  Fill in the hearts.




Step 3: Paint the Background

With your bigger brush (I use size 16), spread water randomly over your sketch.  Using Payne’s Grey, add a very light layer over your water.  Let the paint flow on its own.  Load your brush with water and a light layer of paint and tap some over your card. 

Allow your piece to fully dry before moving on the next step.




Step 4: Paint the Jingle Bells 

Switch to a smaller brush (I use a size 6).  Using the same color as the background, begin painting the top half of one jingle bell from left to right (assuming your light source is on the right side).  Use a higher concentration of paint on the left side, outlining this side.  Clean off your brush and drag some of that paint over to the right.  Clean off your brush again and continue dragging the paint until the right side is significantly lighter than the left.  

Add a bit of darker paint along areas in the right side, making sure to leave a large area of light grey. 

Repeat this process for the bottom half, leaving the strip in the middle white and then repeat for the second bell.




Step 5:  Add Light Back In (optional)

If you would like to add more light to the right side, grab some white paint (watercolor, gouache, ink, etc…).  With this white medium, add small spots of white while the bells are still wet.  Blend them in to the grey.

Allow your piece to fully dry before moving on to the next step.




Step 6: Add Interest with Splatter

Load your brush with your white medium and tap paint over your piece.  Concentrate most of it along the right side of the bells to add more light.  




See all of Vanessa’s tutorials on the blog!

Vanessa spent 16 years as a social worker and originally began experimenting with watercolor as a form of self care.  It soon became a profound passion.  With the encouragement and support of her wife and 3 daughters, she became a full time artist and small business owner, with a line of Artisanal Handmade Watercolors.  She now shares her passion through workshops and online tutorials.


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