It’s that time of year again and I am thrilled to share this Watercolor Step-by-Step Advent Calendar project with you! It’s everything I love about Christmas: anticipation, whimsical beauty, and tradition. We have participated in Light the World for a few years now. I love how it brings the true meaning of Christmas back into focus for all of us each day. This year I made a special advent calendar for the kids and thought I’d share it with you! If you haven’t heard of Light the World, you can check it out here.
This is one of those projects you can easily make in an afternoon while enjoying some Christmas music and a cup of hot chocolate (just don’t get your brush water and your mug mixed up!). In fact, invite the kids to join you!
If you don’t have time to do a watercolor project right now (I get it) and just want to print out my finished project for your own use, you can find it HERE.
Paint with Me
Notice I said paint and not draw? I’m taking the drawing part out of the equation (and I have many more of these types of projects planned for you!). Let’s not get caught up on the drawing part yet (unless of course, you want to). Just enjoy the watercolor painting process. You will learn so much as you just experiment without the pressure to draw the perfect picture. One skill at a time, I say. So with that out of the way, let’s get started!
- Winsor Newton 12 pan watercolor set (or whatever you have on hand)
- Paintbrush (you can use the brush included in your watercolor set but I recommend getting at least one or two quality brushes. Look for a round brush size 3-8. This set has some great options and I always use this handy set both in nature journaling and in the studio)
- 140lb Watercolor Paper (this is my favorite for these kinds of projects)
- Black Non-bleed pen (my favorite)
- Printable Pattern (found in the Resource Library)
- List of Scriptures for the back (found in the Resource Library)
- Window, iPad or Lightboard (see below)
- Pencil (I prefer to use a blue pencil but any pencil will do)
- 16×20 canvas or frame (I found mine at Micheals for around $3)
- Ribbon or string (this is what I used)
- Mini clothespins (like these)
- 8 Thumbtacks
For this project, I am using a traditional Christmas color range. Below are the colors I used (I circled them). Don’t worry if you don’t have Winsor & Newton brand of paints (although if you are in the market for inexpensive but high-quality paints I wholeheartedly recommend this set), most watercolor colors have the same name across brands so just look for the names in whatever you have. If you are using a pan that doesn’t have names, just try to get close to these colors as you paint. Just keep your color palette limited and it will turn out great!
Note: For a nice traditional Christmas red I used a mixture of 1/4 cadmium red with 3/4 alizarin crimson (not an exact science, just mix until you get a color you are happy with). For the blue, I add A LOT of water to make it very light. Perfect for snow and skies.
1. Print Out Your Pattern
If you are already a member of the Lily and Thistle tribe, you can access the Resource Library with your password (found in every email I send to you) HERE. If you aren’t a member of our creative community, you can sign up and grab your password HERE.
2. Trace Your Calendar
I like to trace everything with my trusty blue pencil first and then come in with a black pen after. You may be wondering how to do this without a light board. Hot tip: You have a light board (actually a whole bunch) right in your home. Windows!
If you are working on this at night, you still have some options. I like to use my iPad. I use the Softbox app set on the white setting and it works like a charm!
Watercolor is such a forgiving and fun way to get into painting. Just pretend you are coloring in a coloring book but with paint instead! Remember more water equals lighter, pastel-like colors, less water equals darker, more vibrant colors. Just have fun and don’t overthink it.
4. Write Bible Verses on the Back of Each Card
I made a list of Bible verses that our kids will take turns reading each day. I so want the true reason for this season to come through each day as we prepare for Christmas and I think this will be an easy and effective way to do that. You can find this list in the bundle I’ve created for you in the Resource Library (the pattern, printable and list are all together in one link for you there under Christmas Advent Calendar).
5. Make a Display Board
I used a 16×20 inch canvas. Cheap and easy to hang. Line up your four pieces of string or ribbon so that there is only about an inch of space between the top and the first string. Use your advent papers to help you measure the distance between the string/ribbon leaving enough room for a bit of a droop. On the back attach by tying around eight thumbtacks (see below)
Make them as tight as possible as they will droop just a bit once you add the weight of the paper and the clothespins. Now just attach each picture:
And once you add them all, you are done! 🙂
Now go and hang up your new beautiful Advent Calendar! I hope it will be a treasure in your home and provide many happy memories. Please let me know if you have any questions. I am so happy to help.