Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat. Have you gotten cards to send to your friends and family, yet? Receiving real mail is a true gift. In the modern age of emails, text messages, and social media, we usually only get bills in our mailboxes. Why not make your cards extra special this year, and make them yourself. It is much easier than you think and your loved ones will be thrilled!
This is the perfect homeschool project because the whole family can join in. I have done this project with children as young as 5 years old. It doesn’t have to be perfect, your child just has to love the end result. That is the beauty of art! Plus, it can count as art, handwriting, and language art lessons for the day. Have your children practice their card making. Then they can come up with a lovely note to write inside. Take a day away from curriculum and do something magical with your children. You will all be happy you did.
Before You Start
Making hand made cards sounds like an overwhelming idea. However, this design is easy to create, even for small children. Your friends and family will feel insanely loved when they open this card. This project is also economical. I try my hardest to keep the costs down. Using professional quality art materials does not have to be expensive. So gather the kids and let’s make some amazing cards together.
Materials You Will Need
- A pencil
- Windsor and Newton Cotman Watercolor paint in Cadmium Yellow and Ultramarine
- Sharpie Ultra Fine Tip marker
- White cards and envelopes for crafts
- round brush with fine tip
- X-acto knife (optional)
- Glue Stick
- Strathmore Watercolor 140 lb cold pressed paper
First you will be creating your Christmas tree template. You can make it out of watercolor paper or extra card stock. The template is simple a triangle cut out from the center of a square of paper. The triangle does not have to be perfect. I used an X-acto knife, but you can use scissors if you want. Once you have the triangle cut out, make sure the edges are neat. This will help when we get to painting.
Next, you want to cut squares of watercolor paper to paint. The squares should be about 2″ by 2″. The Strathmore pad I showed above will yield about 8 squares per sheet. Cut up several for each person. You will need some for practicing. Once you get going, you will also, probably, want to make more than one card. Having a nice stack pre-cut will make the rest of the project easier.
Let’s mix our paint. Now, you may think this is silly, but I know that many people are a little unsure of what to do with watercolor paint. Don’t be afraid of the water. Here is an easy way to mix up your perfect green. Using a small plate or a plastic palette (I found mine at the dollar store. $1 for a pack of 6!)
The paints, especially when new, will come out quickly. However, you only need a little bit. Gently squeeze out a blob of yellow in one spot and another of blue. I use large bottle caps for my water (that’s wah-tehr) pots. Use whatever you have. You will want one water for mixing, and one for cleaning your brush. Oh, and always start with a very clean brush.
Take a tiny bit of yellow, add a tiny bit of blue, and then some water. You want to make a puddle of color. Play with it until you get the color you want!
Now we will practice squiggles. Trust me. Have some fun with this. Load your brush with water and scribble on your paper to make a design in water. Then, before the water soaks in, drop some green paint on the water trails. It will burst out and fill in the design. Your water squiggles are like pipelines for the color. I get excited about this every time I do it! Have a go and be sure to take your time practicing. When you are confident in this step move on. Art is all about practicing until you are satisfied with the results. You are become quite the accomplished artist, today!
Place your template over a square of watercolor paper. Repeat your squiggle pattern that you practiced in the last video. Then drop in your paint. Look at the beautiful tree you made! Want to make some more? Go right ahead. Make a whole forest of lovely trees. Just make sure that there is no paint on the back of your template before putting it down on a new piece of paper. Have your trees thoroughly dry before moving on. You can work on the next video while they dry.
Now, to finish your tree, we will learn some simple pen and ink strokes. This really is something everyone can do. Give it a go! Experiment with cross hatches, diagonal lines, and curved lines. How does your trunk and tree pot look best. Oh, and I will let you in on the secret for drawing a perfect star. Pretend it is a person with arms and legs outstretched. Draw a dot for the head, two for the hands, and two for the feet. Now, simply connect the dots, gently. We don’t want harsh, heavy lines. Light broken lines will give the effect we need. Once you have mastered this, and your trees are completely and thoroughly dry, add details to each tree. Look at your design coming to life!
Now that you have your tree finished and looking gorgeous, it is time to put together your card. You will need a glue stick. Be sure to use plenty of glue. This is heavy paper, it will need it. You just made miniature pieces of art! There is still more you can do. Try different shapes, add glitter or different colors for ornaments. You have all the skills you need, get creative.
As an added bonus, I’m giving you a free download of my Winter Pen & Ink Projects tutorial. Simply click here to download your copy now!
I’d love to see what you create! You can drop me a line at Beyondthestickfigure.com or connect with me on Instagram. (tag @britladyinamerica in your post!) Oh, and don’t forget a nice note. Take the time to write something special. Younger children can even dictate what they want to say. Can’t wait for your family and friends to get these in the mail.
What kind of card are you going to create?
Sally Stansfield is a native of England. She came here in her early 20’s, got married and had eight kids that she homeschools. She is a trained artist that has become passionate about passing on her skills. At the age of ten, she knew that she wanted to be an artist and thought that is was a career for people that had a “gift”. She followed her dream and attended Loughborough College of Art and Design in England where she obtained her degree in art.
As a homeschool mum, she realized that art is not just for the gifted, but can be taught incrementally like any subject. She saw first hand how traditional teaching methods for this subject can be detrimental. Now, she wants to share her passion with children young and old to ignite their own love of creating art. You can connect with Sally on Instragram, Facebook, and Youtube.
Be sure to take a few minutes to visit the sponsors of the 2019 Homeschooling Through the Holidays series: