The Chelsea Flower Show Edit

Wild Flower Card

Wild Flowers Card

It’s time for our favourite annual floral extravaganza- The Chelsea Flower Show  and 2016’s is a petal packed delight. Don’t fret if you didn’t bag tickets we’re bursting with beautiful blooms to share with you.

Since 1982, the Royal Horticulture Society has always named a “Rose of the Year” and we can see why, these fragrant blooms are a regular favourite. Share the romance of this lovely flower with Liane Brookes’s  stunning card.

Roses in Bloom

Roses in Bloom

Each year there is always a memorable poppies tribute, with this year’s provided by Phillip Johnson, keep the memories and sentiment alive with Damian Ward’s delightful photo.

Poppies in Meadow

Poppies in Meadow

What better way to celebrate Harrod’s English eccentrics garden than with these fuchsia foxgloves with their tiny trumpet shaped blooms. Don Hooper‘s snap captures them in all their glory here.

Foxgloves

Foxgloves

For fans of a tipple, you’re not being left in the shade, Cloudy Bay’s garden designed by Sam Ovens is designed to echo the flavours of Sauvignon Blanc. Either way we feel wine and flowers are a great combination and this lovely card by Cat Coquilette is the perfect way to share this sentiment.

Vino Veritas Card

Vino Veritas Card

The Queen’s 90th birthday is also being honoured with a garden of it’s own. Sure to be full of busy lizzie’s and lots of other lovely floral tributes too.

HRH 90th Birthday Card

HRH 90th Birthday Card

The Watahan East & West Garden, designed by Chihori Shibiyama & Yano Tea is the perfect example of Japanese inspired elegance. Share the beauty of the delicate Sakura with this lovely card by Jenny Lloyd.

Geisha and Sakura Blossom

Geisha and Sakura Blossom

Finally it wouldn’t be a real garden event without some lawn ornamentation too. Here’s some gnomes courtesy of Sophie Corrigan to finish off your florals in style.

Garden Gnome Card

Garden Gnome Card

If you’ve still not got your fill of florals then fear not we’ve got a great selection of flower filled cards to help you brighten someone’s day.

A Cup of Tea With…oi Doris

After meeting Ann Worsnip aka oi Doris at #PGLive, we were left wowed by her incredible, artistic designs created just with a TYPEWRITER! 

Ahead of her #thortfulTakeover this coming weekend, we sat down for a chat with the face of oi Doris to find out her secrets to creating greeting cards using only a typewriter. Oh, and she let us in on a few tricks as well…

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A typewriter is considered a real vintage gem! When did you think of creating artwork using one?
It all started by chance! I made portraits of my nephews children for Christmas presents – I thought it would be something a little different.  That was 2 years ago and I haven’t stopped typing since.

Is there a certain trick to it?
It’s actually like colour by numbers. I put down a sketch first and then fill it in with different letters and symbols.

What’s been the trickiest design you’ve made using this method?
It has to be Lytham Windmill, which is a local landmark.  I just couldn’t get the sails to look straight.

How long does a typical design take to create?
A typical design can actually take me anything from a couple of hours to a few days. Lytham Windmill for example took me three days!

What inspires your designs?
My inspiration seems to be mainly focused on boys toys! If you notice, a lot of my designs are cars, bikes, planes, which probably comes from having a family full of boys! I do like to do local landmarks and buildings too.

Tell us a story behind one of your designs…
It has to be the story of the Ferrari.  This was originally a commission I did for a friend. He actually owned Nigel Mansells Ferrari and when he sold it, his wife commissioned me to do a type of it, so it could hang in the garage instead. When he sold it, it eventually was then owned by Chris Evans, and it was one of the many cars that was being auctioned off by him last year.

Are there any designs you’re particularly proud of?
I do like the hare – I think he is a very cheeky chap!

What do you do after a long day of creating artwork?
You would think I would stop being creative, but I swap the typewriter for the potters wheel. I have just bought a second-hand one from eBay and I love it! It’s very tactile and relaxing. I also like to do Aerial pilates, where you hang upside down in a hammock type thing!

Tell us something people would be surprised to know about you…
Lol! I’m 50 and have two grandsons!

Facebook or Twitter?

Facebook.

Lastly, name three designers who we should definitely be f0llowing right now…

A local chap called Robin Ross, who is a screen printer (@Robinprint). Another designer whose work I love is Helen Gillespie of Betsy and Els (@betsyandels). Helen laser cuts her designs and I love Grayson Perry! Have you seen his new sculpture?

See all of Ann’s designs on thortful here.

A Cup Of Tea With…Liz Harry

What happens when thortful teams up with Liz Harry ahead of her #thortfulTakeover? The lady who has designed legendary artwork for some of the world’s biggest music stars?

Well, a huge catch-up for starters as she spills the beans on all the famous artists she’s worked for. Juicy!
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What’s the very first thing you do when you wake up?
Switch off the alarm…haha! This usually drifts into a bit of a look on the phone at Instagram, Pinterest or Facebook – as a work-from-home-office-freelancer, it’s a great way to get a quick inspirational fix over a cuppa and to feel connected to the outside world. I try to squeeze in visits to exhibitions, galleries, arts events whenever I can, but it’s amazing how much I can find globally, all from my kitchen table!
 
What does a typical working day look like in the life of Liz Harry?
The great thing about my work is no two days are usually the same – I can be illustrating from home one day, then building an installation in a theatre or on set the next. I do have a structure to the day, which is mainly to fit around my 3 kids.
So in the morning I’ll respond to emails, then onto the job in hand. I usually work through lunch when I’m absorbed in what I’m doing and then have a break at 2.30-3.30 to pick up my middle child from school, which gives me a quick refresh! Sometimes if it’s a quiet day, I’ll stop there, other days I’ll carry on till 5/6 until everyone’s home for dinner. After the kids are in bed, I’ll sometimes pick up work again.
Depending on the job, working of a night can be amazingly productive and there’s nights where I forget the time and stay up till the wee hours. Of course that all changes the next morning if I’ve only had 3 hours sleep! I generally like to complete works ahead of a deadline, then I have time to ponder it a bit and make any tweaks I feel it needs. I think I’m possibly a workaholic!?
 
You’ve created artwork for some of the biggest names in the music industry. Which artist was your favourite to work with?
Argh – so many to choose from! There’s artists you just click with personally and feel are a kindred spirit, even aside from the work (though the two are almost always intrinsically intertwined!), and I’ve really enjoyed the time spent with Sparrow And The Workshop and Pearl And The Puppets.
Then there’s the artists that enable you to create something that you not only get joy from doing, but it boosts your career too. I couldn’t leave the Arctic Monkeys out of this list, or Jessie J and The Zutons. I have to especially mention my long standing clients The Feeling – whom I’ve worked with for 10 years this coming December – whom have been a joy to know personally, professionally and creatively.
I also have to mention the two labels that I credit my career to Deltasonic Records and Universal – who took chances on a young upstart.
 
Were there any artists who were difficult to work with?
Not that I can recall, but there’s obviously been many stumbling blocks along the way! For all the fantastic clients, there’s been ones where I’ve struggled to ‘realise the visual’. I find that most issues with creative work arrives when you don’t have a similar visual language.
Most people working within the creative industries have developed and been educated in terms and styles their whole life, so communicating creative-to-creative is usually easy.
 
What’s your inspiration soundtrack?
My partner is also a freelancer working from home in animation. Essentially I create still images and he does moving ones, so its a bit of a battle of playlists! He definitely broadens my musical tastes, but when he’s out, I play all the pop and as he puts it, ‘sad, singing ladies’.
 
What’s the best thing about illustrating summed up in a sentence?
I get to do what I love and pay the bills with it.
 
Share one tip that every aspiring illustrator needs to know…
If you don’t have an agent you need to get a little business savvy! Boring I know, but it’s the one thing that can take you from hobby to career. Also persistence and self belief is key, which is something that can’t be taught but can be developed!
Set realistic goals alongside dream ones – break it down into steps! Start with the realistic ones, crossing them off as and when you can. You can’t control how your work will be received, or if you’ll get a certain commission, but if you have goals you’re constantly working on you’ll always feel like you’re moving towards your dream.
 
Tell us one of your favourite places to go for inspiration (can be online or offline!)
Online I’m a big pinner and would be gutted if Pinterest suddenly didn’t exist! As mentioned before, I always try to get to cultural events, but if a creative block becomes a problem, just doing something else for a while helps. I take short breaks in trendy coffee shops, as a break can give me time to mull things over more organically until inspiration hits.
 
Lastly, what’s the one thing people would be surprised to know about you? 
I like heavy metal. Goes back to my teenage years as a headbanger.
 
Check out Liz Harry’s designs on thortful here.

Brush up your designs

Let your imagination run wild with these free PS brush sets hand-picked by the thortful team. Download our favourite kits of high-res brush strokes to fuel your creativity. Why not show us the results and upload those card designs here!

1. Coloured Pencil Brush Pack

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Download Pencil Brushes

2. Paint Brush Pack

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Download Paint Brushes

3. Watercolour Brush Pack

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Download Watercolour Brushes

4. Watercolour Splatters Pack

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Download Watercolour Splatters

5. Spray Paint Pack

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Download Spray Paint Brushes

6. Drip Spray Paint Pack

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Download Drip Spray Paint

We hope you enjoy these brush packs as much as we do! Happy installing 🙂

Association of Illustrators announces call for entries – The Prize for Illustration 2017

The Association of Illustrators (AOI), in partnership with London Transport Museum, is delighted to announce that submissions are now open for The Prize for Illustration 2017.

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Image: Eliza Southwood

This year’s theme is Sounds of the City – an illustrated interpretation of urban sound.

The aim of The Prize for Illustration 2017 competition is to attract artwork for display in an exhibition at London Transport Museum that is colourful, inspiring and celebrates the sounds heard in the hubbub and quiet spaces of the UK’s vibrant, diverse, multi-layered cities. The deadline is 26 September 2016.

Entrants are invited to visually capture sound heard in our UK cities in a single illustration. We want to see quiet and relaxing through to loud and frenetic city sounds. Inspiration might be from natural or man-made sounds. Where does your ear meet your eye? You may be inspired by the lyrics from a song about a city. You might illustrate sound in a recognisable UK city, or your visualisation might be a soundscape heard in any UK city. You might just illustrate the people, activities or things that produce the sounds – imaginary or real, past or present. Your imagination is the limit.

The roar of traffic. Shrieks of children playing. Honking of car horns. Rattle and hum of music on a radio. Barking of an urban fox. Banging of a door. Rustle of trees in a green city space. Drilling of road works. Ticking of a clock. Song inspired by a city. Calls of a market trader. Thump of drums at a concert. Shouts of people on the streets. Blaring of a police siren. Murmurs of people talking in a meeting. Screech of brakes on a bus. Ringing of bells.

Impress the judges with your illustrated interpretation of the common, the curious, the persistent and the distinctive chorus of sounds we hear around us day and night and be in with a chance of having your work displayed at the famous London Transport Museum and winning the top prize.

Prizes will be awarded in three levels:
First prize: £2,000 and display of the winning image on a London Transport Museum poster to be displayed on the London Underground.
Second prize: £1,000
Third prize: £750

There is also the possibility that shortlisted images will be featured on merchandise sold in London Transport Museum’s shop.

The competition is open to illustrators and students of illustration throughout the world. The top 100 entries selected by a panel of independent judges will be displayed in an exhibition at London Transport Museum that will open in May 2017 and run until September 2017. The winners will be announced at a private award ceremony that will take place in May 2017.

The Prize for Illustration 2017 continues Transport for London’s legacy of design that dates back over 100 years. London Transport Museum’s collection of graphic art is one of the most important in the world and includes over 5,000 posters and artworks by famous artists including Man Ray, Paul Nash and Edward McKnight Kauffer.

To enter visit theaoi.com

The New Instagram Design EVERYONE Is Talking About

Obsessed with that little photo-sharing app we like to call Instagram? Us too, in fact we may go as far as saying, addicted. 

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You may have noticed yesterday that Instagram had a major design overhaul and it was met with a lot of chatter on the internet.

Some compared the new logo to a Powerpoint colour palette, others were outraged that the recognisable brown camera logo had disappeared full stop (R.I.P), and then there were those who were excited about the much-needed update. (Us!)

It wasn’t just the logo which had a jazzy makeover! Click into the app and gone was the usual blue text, and in its place a sleek monochrome design.

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We’re creatures of habit and don’t like change, but Instagram needed a new look and feel. After all, they were making big changes to their algorithm (your feed will start being ordered into posts/users you engage with the most, instead of chronologically!), so why not shake things up with a fresh layout?

In a blog post released yesterday, Instagram stated, ‘The new icon represents a simpler camera and the rainbow lives on in gradient form…The simpler design puts more focus on your photos and videos without changing how you navigate the app.

‘Our updated look reflects how vibrant and diverse your storytelling has become.’

If you use Instagram’s other apps including, Boomerang and Hyperlapse, you’ll have noticed they too have undergone major design changes.

Whilst we can stomp our feet and demand that Instagram return to the old design, that ain’t gonna happen, so we may as well embrace this refreshing change.

Use the new design to really think about how you curate your content. See it as an opportunity to potentially overhaul your personal page! Perhaps you want to try testing out a new colour scheme, or you may evaluate the type of posts which aren’t receiving any engagement.

Shake it up a bit! Experimenting with different functions within the app could work wonders for you engagement-wise and could get people talking about YOU!

Are you following us on Instagram? Come say hi here

10 cards to satisfy all the foodies in your life

Here at thortful we realise that we talk about food A LOT. And we’re sure we’re not the only ones, so we decided to put together our favourite collection of foodie cards for any occasion.

For the talkative foodie

We know what it’s like when you’re meeting a friend after work. You’ve probably skipped lunch and had an apple as a snack as you salivate over your dinner plans. However, these friends just don’t get it. They want to catch up first, order later. A big no, no…therefore we think they deserve the waffler card.

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For the foodie that can’t actually eat anything

We’re not sure what these foodies did in the cavemen days, but they’re still on our list nonetheless. They’re the friends that find ordering off a menu virtually impossible, but we love them anyway as most of the time you’re catching up on their sofa with a cuppa…who needs restaurants eh!

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For the budget foodie

These guys have perfected the art of producing a meal on a budget. Whatever they make, it smells and tastes delicious, and frankly we’re left wondering how they did it.56558b21e4b025ab258dce57_mediumFor the Sunday bruncher

These guys are uber-chic, usually found living on the East Side and dining in breakfast clubs, whilst instagramming their Eggs Royale. We envy you, food fashionista. Here’s a card celebrating your favourite feast.

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For the bread basket addict

They may be a foodie and enjoy fine dining, but when they’re out they beeline for the bread basket before you’ve even said hello. By the time you’ve ordered they’re asking for more butter. No harm, no foul…just tasty carbs…mmmm bread56310150e4b07b51b1b25a58_mediumFor the ones with the sweet tooth.

Most of us are all probably one of these, even if we keep it hidden. These guys scour the menu backwards deciding on dessert and adjusting their starter and main accordingly. We have no issue with that, to be honest, they seem pretty smart to us…crumbs.

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For the cheese lovers

These guys deserved a category of their own, as they seem to be everywhere! So here you go…. Picking one card was pretty tricky, but there’s always more…

5726d10ee4b055104e2f2040_mediumFor the savoury sadist

They shun cakes and sweets in search of a healthier lifestyle. However if you’re ever near one of these foodies, you’ll hear a suspicious crunching coming from their corner most of the time. These guys feast on the savoury snacks. Their desk draws are full of packets from supermarkets and health stores, just ready to top them up throughout the day. Nothing gets them more talkative than whole mixed nuts and curly cashews…so declare your love in words they’ll understand.

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For the liquid lunch foodie

We didn’t think it was fair to leave out a certain foodie group. These guys prefer liquid lunches to cosy dinners in and takeaways on the sofa, and when the weather gets brighter we tend to find them hanging out in packs, in beer gardens across the land. A rather friendly bunch, these guys can go anywhere on their own and come home with a whole new group of pals. The friendliest of foodies – we salute you!

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For the ‘there’s always one…’ foodie.

These guys.

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For all other food occasions, we’re sure we’ve got you covered…and if not, well…why not join us as a creator and design your own!

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6 Ways To Capture A Stunning Photograph

Is your camera just gathering dust because you don’t really know ‘where to start’ when it comes to taking a brilliant photograph?

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We spoke to Dave Peck, who knows how to take a fantastic photograph or two, and he shared his six top tips for achieving a magical picture.

Here’s what he had to say:

As a landscape/seascape photographer who has featured on the site, thortful asked me to compile a ‘6 top tips’ to help you capture that perfect scene. I am aiming this at beginners and those of you who want to quickly improve their imagery. Here we go then…

1. Use ‘A’ or ‘Aperture Priority’

Most landscapes should feature interest from the foreground to the background and usually you want all of those features sharply in focus. The Aperture of your camera’s lens controls how much is in focus and you ideally need this to be as small as possible. On a DSLR you should ideally aim for an f-stop of f16 upwards. If you focus on a point in the mid ground, this should make sure everything is acceptably sharp. Of course, rules are there to be broken, so do not be afraid to experiment! The best way to learn about ‘Depth of Field’, which is the term photographers use to describe this, is to photograph a fence or wall at an angle of around 45 degrees and change the aperture for each shot. Then look at the results. Portraits, conversely benefit from using a wider aperture to throw the background out of focus

2. Use a tripod

One of the downsides of using a small f-stop will be a slower shutter speed. This can result in blurred photographs. There is little point in having everything in focus if the whole photograph is blurred. My photograph of Bamburgh Castle was taken an hour before sunrise and needed an exposure of one-minute to properly expose it. Therefore, use a tripod or other support to help. There are cheap tripods for sale from many online auction sites that, although they may not last forever, will help you experiment with your photography. If you cannot afford one, or do not want to buy a tripod, look for somewhere to balance the camera. For a long time I have carried a small beanbag in my camera bag to put onto rocks, posts or the floor, which enabled me to get that shot that would otherwise be ruined through camera shake. You can also use jumpers, coats etc. or just put your camera down on anything solid and then use some imagery software to crop your photograph to make it straight.
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3. Hold your breath as you squeeze the shutter button

The most common mistake beginners make is pressing the shutter button too hard when taking an image. If your camera is on a tripod this should not really apply, although I have seen it happen! With the camera on a tripod use a ‘cable release’ or use the ‘self-timer’ setting on your camera to allow camera shake to disappear before the shutter fires. If you are shooting without a tripod, briefly hold your breath as you gently squeeze the shutter to make sure everything you think you are capturing remains in shot. The familiar portraits with the top of peoples heads missing is usually caused by an over excited shutter button press. Gently does it.

4. Shoot from higher for lower viewpoints

We are used to viewing the world from the height at which we stand. To give your images more impact think about climbing higher if possible or, get down on your knees. Sometimes a good image can be turned into a brilliant image just by shooting from an unusual angle.
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5. Composition

Landscape photographers usually pay some regards to the ‘rule of thirds’ in their compositions. This rule involves dividing the frame of your image into equal thirds and, where the horizontal and vertical lines intersect (at four points), using one to place your main point of interest in the photograph. This could be someone’s face in a portrait, a castle in a landscape or a motorbike or car in a sports shot. Usually, with action images you would give more space in front of the subject for it to move into. Following the rule of thirds also means keeping your horizons either a third of the way down from the top of the frame or a third of the way up from the bottom if you want to include a dramatic sky. Using this simple compositional tip will improve your photographs straight away.

6. Look at photographs

If you love photography then this seems obvious, but I have learnt almost all that I have learned in my 35-year career by looking at loads of images, some I liked, some I didn’t and working out why they had this affect on me. The next stage is to try and work out how it was achieved and try and recreate it with your own twist. It may be a particular lighting technique takes your eye, or a particular way of composing an image, but either way look at good images with a quizzical eye to improve.

See more of Dave Peck’s cards on thortful here.

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Yoda: The Ultimate Life Coach

When you’re looking for words of wisdom, the internet is full of choice words but none more inspiring than Jedi Master Yoda. and what better day to celebrate his genius than May 4th? We’ve scoured the archives for his best advice to share with you today.

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First up Yoda takes on your love life:

Jenny 27, from Birmingham said ” Dear Yoda, I have  a great life but long to share it with that special someone. My problem is I am very shy, what would you recommend to make Mr Right notice me?”

Yoda Says:

Through his stomach and what man can resist a delicious milkshake, the way to a man’s heart is, hmm?

Which translates as this roughly:

Yoda Milkshake

Yoda Milkshake

Next to guy problems.

Dave 26, from Brighton says ” Romantic gestures are not my strong suit, but I’ve finally found the perfect woman who shares my love of Star Wars, how can I show her I care?”

Yoda Says:

Dear Dave, if you show this lady how you feel want to, with Princess Leia say it, to anyone in the rebel alliance’s affection a sure fire route.

Translation:

Dear Dave, if you want to show this lady how you feel, say it with Princess Leia, a sure fire route to anyone in the Rebel Alliance’s affection:

Princess Leia Card

Princess Leia Card

Next Yoda on everyday stresses

Janet, 38 from Tunbridge Wells told us “My  7 year old daughter’s cat just passed away but we don’t know how to break the sad news to her, any ideas, wise Yoda?”

Yoda says: Best to prepare a  child for the big news, sometimes it is, gone to join the Wookie Warriors in the good fight, that her beloved kitty has.

Translation, Tell your daughter her kitty has gone to join the Wookie Warriors in their fight against the resistance, this illustration should help her picture her feline pals new life.

Star Wars Cat Card

Star Wars Cat Card

Exam Stress

Finally Chris 48, from Margate, told of of his son James’s struggle with exam nerves, “how can help boost his confidence at a stressful time?”

Yoda says:

Heed the advice I gave to warriors heading to the battle of Yavin, anyone heading to a stressful situation should.

Which we’re pretty sure means ” Good Luck, you got this!” or in other words…

May the 4th be with you

May the 4th be with you

And just in case you’re in need of more guidance we’ve also called on some mini Jedi masters for back up, check out “The Wisdom of Kids” for more sage life advice too.

Master Yoda

Master Yoda

4 Watercolour Tips to Perfect Today

Are you an illustrator or typographer who wants to branch out in watercolour, but have ZERO idea where to start?

Beginning a new challenge takes guts, but if you persevere, can reap the rewards. If you’re looking to branch out into watercolour, we spoke to the lovely Kim Fleming who has her watercolour technique nailed and will help you perfect it, too.

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Blending colours
Blending colours together seamlessly is a must-have skill in watercolour. The easiest way to do this is is using a “wet-on-wet” technique.
Untitled design1. Using a large brush, cover an area with clear water
2. Using your first colour, use a smaller brush to add pigment to the wet area. You will see that the watercolour will not extend past the area you have dampened.
3. Add your second colour, and blend together with your brush. This can produce a lovely smooth gradient, but can also have some surprising blending effects. Have fun with it! Also, notice the soft edges with this technique.

 

Water splatters
This is a lot of fun and can create a really magical effect.
Untitled design-21. Fill an area with the colour of your choice – the darker the colour, the greater the effect.
2. When the paint is almost dry – it will have just a sheen of dampness – dab on little dots of clear water. You could also splatter them on, or even splatter another colour into the first.
3. This creates a “starry” effect, and the closer your paint is to being dry when you add the water, the sharper the effects will be.

 

Soft edges
This can be useful to fan out an area of colour.
Untitled design-3 1. Paint your chosen colour.
2. With a fairly large brush, load it with clear water and paint around the edges of your original area. The original colour will leak out into this new area, but will be diluted.
3. You may have to do this several times to get a clean gradient. Dabbing at the edges with paper towel can help too.

 

Clouds
I think this may be a technique of my own creation, I have never seen anyone else do this!
Untitled design-4 1.Paint an area of colour, preferably blue.
2. Dab at the paint with scrunched up paper towel. The area can be quite wet when you do this. You may have to keep dabbing as the paint dries.
3. Voila! Instant clouds!