Watercolor Coffee Art

Thanks to Plaid Crafts for sponsoring today’s post. All opinions, as always, are honestly my own.

Are you ready for something exciting?!

I’ve got some brand new products and techniques to share with you today that are going to knock your socks right off, friends!

Those of you who are obsessed with hand lettering like I am will be particularly interested in these. Remember when I visited Plaid Crafts Headquarters last month and got to play with all the things? Today, I finally get to share all about my favorite new supplies…Martha Stewart® Soft Gel Watercolor Acrylic Paint and the Martha Stewart® Water Brush Set! I’m going to show you how I used them to make this fun little coffee-themed project and if you’ll bear with me, I want to tell you why I like these better than standard watercolors and the other water brushes that are on the market. Ready? Let’s get started!

Hand Lettered Watercolor Art

You’ll need:

Martha Stewart® Soft Gel Watercolor Acrylic Paint

Martha Stewart® Watercolor Brush Set

Martha Stewart® Water Brush Set

8×8″ wooden clipboard {mine is from Michaels}

Hot press watercolor paper


Paper plate or disposable cup

Before we get started with the project, let’s talk for a second about these paints and why you’re gonna love them. Unlike traditional watercolors, these are a multi-surface, acrylic gel formula, which means a few important things for us as artists!

  1. You can use these paints on multiple different surfaces including wood, watercolor paper, fabric, canvas, and more! You’ll see this firsthand as I use them for both the lettered design AND the wooden clipboard itself.
  2.  This formula is permanent, so once it’s dry, re-wetting won’t affect it! Can you imagine that?! This also means…
  3. You can use it on outdoor projects! This paint is durable on both indoor and outdoor porous surfaces, believe it or not.

Seriously, these are so cool, and they’re available in 40 different colors so you can find whatever you need for any project. Today, I’m using Vanilla Bean & Emerald City.

Step 1: Paint your clipboard.

Squeeze a small amount of your favorite color paint into a cup or onto a plate/palette. Add water to dilute and stir until you have the consistency you want. For my clipboard, I wanted good, vibrant coverage, so I added very little water, just enough to create the consistency of a “normal” acrylic paint.

Load your brush and apply the paint to the wooden surface. The Watercolor Brush Set contains five different brushes: ½”Angle, No. 9 and 14 Round, ⅞” Mop, and a No. 10 fan brush. I used the 7/8″ Mop for this step because it’s large and ideal for a background like this or a watercolor wash. All five brushes have super-soft nylon bristles that are designed for painting watercolor effects on a variety of surfaces. The soft-grip finish on the handles make them comfortable to hold as you paint. One coat was enough to give me just the coverage I wanted; bright and pretty but still slightly transparent.Once your background is colored, let it dry completely while you switch to creating the lettered art.

Step 2: Trace a circle onto your watercolor paper.

If you’re using an 8×8″ clipboard like mine, you’ll want to trim your paper to a 6×6″ square. For lettering projects, I always use hot press watercolor paper because it has a completely smooth texture that won’t snag my pens or brushes. Find something round like a small bowl or coffee mug and place it in the center of your paper, then trace lightly with a pencil.

Step 3: Sketch your design.

This is just for spacing; you’ll go back later and erase the pencil lines. I chose to use the phrase, “It’s always coffee time,” but you can letter anything you like.

Step 4: Use the finest tip water brush to paint a series of coffee beans all the way around the circle.

*I have to pause here for a second to tell you about these water brushes and why you need them in your life. If you’ve never used a water brush before, let me tell you, they’re magical. There’s a water reservoir built into the handle; you just fill it before you start your project, then there’s no need to constantly dip your brush in water. It provides you with a consistently wet brush AND it’s self-cleaning. When you’re done with one color, just run the brush on a piece of scrap paper until it’s clear. For those of you who have used other water brushes before, look at the tips on these! Look how fine the smallest one is; perfect for detail work and lettering! I am obsessed.

To fill your water brush, just unscrew the cap and place the barrel under a faucet. Replace the cap and you’re ready to go! You may want to squeeze gently just to make sure that the water makes its way to the brush tip, but once it does, you won’t need to squeeze anymore to get the water coming out…just paint. *I noticed that the brushes unscrew in the opposite direction I thought they would, so if it’s not coming apart, try twisting the other way.*

Coffee beans are easy-peasy to draw; just think of making an oval or a set of parentheses around the pencil line. Then, draw a line through the center. Just as no two coffee beans in real life are identical, don’t expect yours to all be the same either. That’s what makes it handmade art! I didn’t dilute the gel much at all for this step, just dipped my water brush into a pool of it and painted.

Here’s how your paper will look when you make it all the way around the circle.

Step 5: Use the water brush to color in each bean.

All you have to do is apply the tip of the brush to the inside of the bean and it will pull color from the outline to the inside, coloring it in with a lighter shade of brown.

Step 6: Use your fine tip water brush to letter the word “coffee.”

I added more water to my paint at this point, diluting it more than I did when I outlined the beans. If you’re new to lettering and aren’t sure how to do this, you can check out my beginner hand lettering post or my introduction to brush technique for a complete step-by-step tutorial. Or, you can check out my new book, Hand Lettering for Relaxation!

If you like, when you’re finished and still have some brown on your brush tip, gently flick it with your finger while holding it over your paper to create a little bit of a splatter effect.

Step 7: Print the rest of your phrase.

You could use a marker for this step if you like, but I wanted to be consistent with the watercolor look, so I just printed with my water brush in the same color as my clipboard.

Step 8: Erase any remaining pencil marks and put your lettered piece on the clipboard.

Make sure your clipboard is totally dry first, which usually takes about an hour.

Now your project is ready to display! What do you think? Are you ready to grab your supplies and get started? The Martha Stewart line is available exclusively at any Michaels store or at Michaels.comBe sure to check out the other fun new products from Martha Stewart too, including some gorgeous new stencils, Home Decor Paint with a beautiful eggshell finish, and Marbling Medium. You can learn more about the Marbling Medium in our Marbled Monogram post!

For more inspiration, stop by the other Plaid Creators’ websites to see what they created using the Martha Stewart Watercolor paints and make sure you’re following Plaid on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. Happy creating!

Hand Lettered Coffee Art with Watercolor Paints

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