Redbubble holiday challenge - week one

I can never turn down a challenge







AND I love the holidays...

When I saw that Redbubble was holding a holiday challenge, you can imagine my joy.

Week one

The first week’s challenge was to design a gift-worthy pattern for mugs.

For me it started with a very simple idea: I wanted to try my hand at watercolours again, having just found out how fun and challenging this was and I've also love painting/sketching birds.

I recently painted a watercolour for a close friend, her brief was just that it had to be serene and involve waterlilies...

Water lily dreams by Karina Lawrence

So armed with a brief, design a holiday mug, and having decided the medium I set to figuring out what this design might look like...

I always start with a sketch of the main elements of any piece of art. It helps me make sure that I have the dimensions right and gives me a visual to refer back to once I'm creating the final piece.

Sketching in pen is also a favourite of mine. It helps keep lines clear, reduces smudging and is less likely to get rubbed away by accident!

A rough line drawing like this really helps me once I've started adding layers to a painting.


Next I created the background. This was simple enough, I stretched some paper on a board using paper gum tape. This basically ensures that once you've added water to the page and it starts to buckle it'll flatten back down once dry.

I then added a clear spray seal to the background, basically to prevent the blue from running into the other colours once I started adding them in. When you're looking for an orange or red finish the last thing you want is blue leaking in and making everything purple!

I use a really light pencil, usually a 4H (the harder the pencil the better I find), and lightly sketch the  outline of the robin onto the background. I always take care not to press too hard so that I'm not leaving an indent on the paper. And the lighter the lines, the easier they are to cover up with paint.

 I love seeing a painting come to life. I added a few details in with acrylic paint, like the wing and tummy feathers, the eye and the beak.



Using watercolour lets you really control how deep or light the colours on your painting are. Just a little water, a brush and some patience can fix most mishaps!

I may be biased, but when I saw this little guy finished he melted my heart. I left some of the background colour on his face and body, but I think they add to his charm.

I usually know when a painting is finished, though much like with writing you can never be 100% satisfied. There's always something you'd change. Maybe if I was painting this again I'd choose a brighter background, or go for more of a blocky colour for the background to make the robin standout.

Either way, at some point you just have to decide it's done, be happy and move on to the next thing.

The finished mug can be found on my Redbubble portfolio, and I must admit I'm really tempted to purchase a mug with this design on for the holidays...  would that be too weird? 🤷🤷🤷

Red breasted robin by Karina Lawrence now on Redbubble


Up next week 2 challenge... a hilarious holiday card... watch this space for more updates about my art and writing 👍

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