Design-A-Day SpoonChallenge Day 2: Watercolor

MAR 2, 2016 updated Apr 26, 2021

SpoonChallenge Design-A-Day watercolor

Today’s #SFDesignADay Challenge features the elegant beauty of watercolor by the always-inspiring Emily Sanford. Here she gives us quick tips on how to get started with watercolor design. Read on for ideas on how to incorporate white space effectively through an easy-to-use material you probably have around the house.

#Spoonchallenge Designer Emily Sanford Watercolor Example

Emily: Watercolor painting brings depth, brilliance, and a soft organic touch to surface pattern design. Watercolor is also a clean, vibrant medium that can be challenging to master.

#SFDesignADay SpoonChallenge Emily Sanford Watercolor Designs

Emily: When first experimenting with watercolor, it’s helpful to get acquainted with how pigment and water interact on paper. One of my favorite ways to play with watercolor is to lay down artist tape or washi tape in graphic patterns on paper. The tape acts as a mask for the paint, and gives the novice the chance to play with washes, colors and textures. After the tape is removed, the resulting design offers a nice balance of bold line to the playful transparency and texture of the watercolor paint.

See Emily’s process in action below.

Take some time today to create a watercolor design of your own. Then, share your design on any social media platform you like (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest) and tag it with #SFDesignADay. The best part about SpoonChallenges is seeing what other community members create!

Still not sure how the Design-A-Day SpoonChallenge works? Check out our FAQs here.


Emily Sanford HeadshotEmily Sanford is a NYC-based artist using watercolors as her medium to create a range of beautiful textiles. Emily started exploring surface design while pursuing her undergraduate degree in ceramics. The opportunity to explore textures and pattern opened her eyes to the world of surface design. Visit her Spoonflower shop for more inspiring designs you’ll love.

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    Am I missing something? Is there some place we need to register our designs? I uploaded two designs (one pencil sketch and one watercolors) and I don’t know if there’s anything else I need to do.

    • Food coloring, fabric dye, egg dye, instant coffee, markers on thick wet paper. Sprinkle with salt to watch colors pull. Use toothpicks and a straw to move pools around.
      If you’re scanning anyway, permanence doesn’t matter– spill juice on a napkin and invent a new look. Then improve it digitally.
      Push the walls.

    • I almost never make comments but I had to give you a boost to do this. I have used my granddaughter’s $3.98 crayola brand watercolor set to create some designs and you will be amazed how great they work. So go for it!