Make A Thing: Watercolors and White Crayons

Welcome to the another installment of Make A Thingwhere we make handmade gifts for people. Or ourselves. Who doesn’t need something special in their life? Join in on the DIY fun and avoid the unnecessary consumerism of the world (and I promise you’ll save a few dollars while you’re at it).

Header by Rory Midhani



We survived Valentine’s Day. We did it, champs. Now we’re in the Winter doldrums. When Eliot said April was the cruelest month, he was lying. It’s actually February. When will it ever be warm again? It’s not fair. I’m sick of the cold and the dark. I need some cheering up over here.

That’s why I decided to make myself a few bright pieces of art to hang over my desk so I could gleefully stare at them in preparation for warmer, sunnier days.

Watercolor + White Crayon Paintings


I’m really into watercolors right now, as you could probably tell, and decided to play around with a little trick I learned in elementary school called “White crayon busy time”. It’s so simple and aesthetically-pleasing and versatile. It’s great for a quick project when you need a tiny happy poster (or perhaps a late Valentine, I’m not judging).

Supplies Needed: Watercolor paper, watercolor paints, paint brushes, white crayon (Crayola is best because it’s not as greasy as the off-brand).

Level of Difficulty: Children do this shit, so can you.


1. Cut your paper to size. Find a nice quotation or drawing you’d like to trace (or freehand it if you live on the edge), and use your computer screen as a light box. You can also print out your quotation or drawing and tape it and your watercolor paper to the window during the day. I used a Steve Jobs quotation because this is for my girlfriend and she’s Apple-obsessed.


2. Trace your design in the white crayon. Trace it more times than you think you need to. You know what happens when you don’t trace it enough times and your white lines aren’t strong enough? This:


Don’t let this happen, because it sucks.


3. Start adding your watercolors. You can wet your paper to make your colors blend better.


4. After you’re satisfied, let your paper dry. It will curl up a lot. Press it under a heavy object overnight.


5. Alternatively, you can use the white crayon as a border for a design and paint inside instead of using it as negative space. Fill only inside of the design with water from a brush so the watercolors stay inside easier.


Experiment and make a few different styles. They’re fast and simple to make. If you fuck up, they’re still endearing because watercolors are super forgiving.

Any other crafting tricks for the dark days of late Winter I should know about?

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Hansen is the former DIY & Food Editor of and likes to spend most days making and cooking and writing. She teaches creative writing at Colorado State University and is pursuing a Masters of Fine Arts in her free time.

Hansen has written 189 articles for us.


  1. Yes, these are super adorable & easy looking. I’m totally down to make these as greeting cards because we’re lacking so much wall space for decorative things.

  2. Maybe be careful about using your computer as a lightbox too hard, though – I did that all the time at art school (with pencil instead of crayon) and my roommate would tell me how bad it was for my screen.
    Another alternative I liked to use (especially when I just wanted to trace some type, like in this project) was printing the paper with words on it, putting a blank sheet over it (to trace on), and taping them to a window (during the day). I was ALWAYS too lazy to go to a studio and use a real lightbox!

  3. Wouldn’t it be cute to write a secret message for your loved one in white crayon and have them paint over it? So cute.

  4. What a great idea!
    I’ve been looking for a simple idea to create my own cheap but amazing greeting cards and this looks like I could handle it and possibly even keep up with my way craftier friends ;)

    I even have the supplies already at home! Well, except for the white crayon…

  5. another thing to do with the watercolors, to prevent the paper from curling, is to lightly brush the back with water? something about the weight or whatever–just make sure you have newspapers to lay it on or something lol

    but this is a great idea!

  6. Adding a little water to acrylic paints makes some really great colors, and it’s kind of like watercolor but a little thicker and bolder colored. Glitter and pastels are always a great lifter upper during the winter.

  7. Random. Just gave away old X-ray review boards. They are basically a lighted box, gave them to a art teacher an a friend. They love it for all types of projects. So ask offices or imaging centers, everything is digital an these are getting phased out.
    Random thought just thought I’d share with crafty people:-)

    • You need the wax of the crayon to resist the paint, so I don’t think a colored pencil would work.

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