Adventures in Watercolor: Elegant Mother’s Day Card Designs

Zirkus Design | Hand Painted Elegant Watercolor Mother's Day Greeting Card (stationery mockup)

Is there a skill you admire and want to explore… but the thought of trying completely overwhelms you?

For me, that big, scary, hide-under-the-covers-because-it’s-too-hard thing is painting.

I see fellow artists, friends, and colleagues smearing oil on canvas, and I am totally amazed. I would love to try it, but the learning curve feels too steep.

Before I can even think of lifting a brush, I’m filled with questions.

What brand of paint?

Do I need special brushes?

How do I make what’s in my head end up on the canvas?

How do I keep the colors from turning into a muddy mass of dog-poo brown?

Zirkus Design | Watercolor Hearts Valentines Day Painting

Someday, someone will drag me to a class where I’ll finally touch brush to canvas.

I somehow managed to never take a painting course during four years as a university art student, so don’t count on it happening any time soon.

However, I’ve got an exception to this I-don’t-paint-because-it’s-scary rule.


Now, that I can do – or at least give it a go.

While oil paint and canvas seems easy to mess up, watercolor feels like less of a risk.

Throwing away a terrible canvas would be hard for me. But, paper? Eh, just paint on the back or toss it in the rubbish bin.

I’m still finding my watercolor style, but I am enjoying learning from other more accomplished artists. If you’ve had a hankering to try your hand at watercolor, I’ll share one of my favorite resources for FREE tutorials below.

Adventures in Watercolor: Floral and Foliage Motifs

When working with physical media (paint, paper, ink, etc.), one of the hardest things to get right is color. I much prefer to make art digitally because I can adjust the color, straighten lines, erase, etc.

But, the best digital art starts from a physical creation. Almost all, if not all, of my patterns begin as drawings. I then scan those drawings and clean them up, using them directly in my art or as a reference to draw digitally.

For this Mother’s Day card, I experimented with my new liquid watercolors, dabbing water and pigment here and there in flower and foliage form. Want to paint a card, too? I’ll share my favorite budget resources for watercolor painting below.

I scanned the painted flowers and removed the background in Photoshop. I always separate the painted elements from the background because it gives me more control over the final design. I can easily add the watercolor paper and texture back in.

The simplest way to check whether or not the painted elements have been successfully separated from the white watercolor paper is to place each element on a black background. During this separation process, I realized how much I loved these colorful flowers on black.

Something about the black, white, and floral feels sophisticated and elegant. I decided to keep the black background and white text while adjusting the color of the motifs.

Zirkus Design | Hand Painted Elegant Watercolor Mother's Day Greeting Card // Watercolor Motifs after scanning

Elegant Mother’s Day Card Designs

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen this post where I discovered an old ink nib in my art school toolbox and dabbled in lettering.

Zirkus Design | Hand Lettering Using a Nib Pen and India Ink

I’ve since purchased a few different nibs, and I have to tell you – I absolutely LOVE lettering with pen and ink. The way the thick and thin strokes vary and the flow of the curves amazes me. I feel like a proper British Jane-Austen-era woman, scratching out a letter to deliver to my dearest at the next estate over. (ha!)

It’s a completely different experience than using a modern calligraphy brush pen. I plan to use my nib pen and ink more and perhaps even draw with it in the future.

Using one of my new nibs, I lettered Happy Mother’s Day and added it to the watercolor card.

Beautiful – just like mom.

Zirkus Design | Hand Painted Elegant Watercolor Mother's Day Greeting Card (Happy Mother's Day stationery mockup)

After I finished the card design, I remembered that one of the reasons people buy greeting cards is because of the message and sentiment expressed inside. I’m not currently selling my greeting card designs on any platform that would allow me to print inside (though I hope to in the future!), so I decided to add a message to the front.

Being a mom is one of the most under-appreciated roles, and I wanted to communicate an empowering message.

You are beautiful
You are strong
You are amazing
You are mom

Moms don’t hear these messages as often as they need to – so let mom know how much you appreciate her super powers this Mother’s Day!

Zirkus Design | Hand Painted Elegant Watercolor Mother's Day Greeting Card (empowering message stationery mockup)

Where To Buy

If you’d love to send mom a gorgeous, hand-painted Mother’s Day card, I’m offering both designs in my RedBubble and Society6 shops. Both sites often run deals, and today is no exception.

Get 20% off at RedBubble here.

Get 25% off at Society6 here.

Zirkus Design | Hand Painted Watercolor Mother's Day Greeting Card (empowering message art print mockup)

p.s. – you can get this design as an art print as well to remind mom all year how amazing she is!

Watercolor Resources for Newbs

If you’d like to dabble in watercolor, I highly recommend the FREE tutorials from Teela at Every Tuesday. Teela also teaches Skillshare classes which is where I first saw her work.

What about supplies?

For total beginners, a pan watercolor set will do (the kind you used in elementary school). Just please, please, please, buy a different brush other than the plastic one that comes with the set! This set will get you started.

After you’ve experimented with pan watercolors, you’ll want to up your game by using liquid watercolors. The color in liquid watercolors really pops and is much more vibrant than anything you can achieve with a pan set. Many artists love Dr. Ph. Martin’s liquid watercolors, but they’re too expensive for my budget.

I invested in a bunch of Brea Reese liquid inks, and I have been SUPER happy with them. You can buy as few or as many as you need (this ultramarine is my FAVE).

Brea Reese colors also come in a GLITTER version which I also have and find ridiculously fun. If you’re into waterbrush lettering, the ink-filled brushes are simply amazing. P.s. – you can get Brea Reese at Hobby Lobby in case you’d rather buy them there and use a coupon.

Disclosure: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Using my links helps me keep creating designs like this one at no extra cost to you.

Sweet or Cheeky Sayings?

When deciding what message to write on the front of this Mother’s Day card, I actually searched for some cheeky quotes.

I didn’t find very many.

Don’t get me wrong – I love a sweet quote. But, moms need a healthy dose of humor (many wipe butts and noses all day, after all), so I would love to hear any sassy sayings you have for moms.

Add your favorites to the comments below. If I use your quote, I just might send you a copy of the card I create!

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