Ombre Valentine Origami – Dip Dye and Fold These Super Simple Hearts

ombre valentine bowl origami hearts

Valentine’s Day seems to always sneak up on us, doesn’t it? Luckily, I have a super simple Valentine project for you that I think you’ll love. Sweet love notes can be scribed on the pieces of paper before you fold up these origami hearts and the results are surprisingly satisfying. Valentine-themed wrapping paper would be lovely if you wished to forego the dyeing process. I opted for coffee filters. I recently switched coffeemakers to one that uses a permanent filter, so I happened to have a stash of no. 2 cone filters in my pantry. Loving their kraft look, I thought they seemed perfect to use for this project, but you could also try regular copy paper.

What You Need

  • cutting tool(s) to trim paper if necessary
  • concentrated watercolor (I used Ken Oliver’s Color Burst)
  • cup of water, small
  • gloves (optional)
  • paper (origami or paper that is thin enough to fold easily)
  • paper towels

Dip Dye Your Paper

The first half of this project is all about the ombre!

start with coffee filter

If you’re using cone filters, start by opening the paper along the seam.

trim coffee filter valentine

This origami project works best with paper that is in ratio with an 8-1/2″ x 11″ (22cm x 28cm) sheet. Here, I’m creating a piece that is approximately 3″ x 3-7/8″ (8cm x 10cm). Cut as many pieces as you like at this stage. You’re going to want several to try out the dyeing process.

color burst dye origami valentine paper

A tiny plastic cup works perfectly for this technique. Add a small amount of watercolor to your cup (I used a concentrated powder). Add a small amount of water—1/4″–1/2″ (6mm–13mm) is plenty. Experiment with dipping different portions of a sheet in the dye. I played with sides, middles and corners. I wet my paper prior to dipping it.

lay origami paper dry

Lay out your wet papers on paper towels.

paper towel dye

Collage artists, save your pretty paper towels!

dry origami valentine papers

My finished, dry Valentine origami papers.

Fold Your Valentine Heart

Now it’s origami time!

origami steps 1-6

Follow the folds shown, ending with the bottom edge of the paper meeting the base of the triangle shape.

origami steps 7-12

Follow the folds as shown. After folding in the sides (top two pics), turn the piece over to continue folding.

origami folds 13-18

A few more folds, some tucks and your ombre Valentine is complete!

Side Note: The Heart Bowl

You may be wondering where I got this cool heart bowl? I made it and you can make one, too! I’ll show you how to get started, but you can see the process for finishing it in this other post: Beautiful DIY Bowls.

shape paper clay heart bowl

Roll out some paper clay. I’m using ACTIVA La Doll Premier Natural Air Dry Stone Clay. Cut a heart shape from paper and use it as a guide to cut the same shape from the clay. Use your fingers to create scallops around the edge and tear the heart in a couple places. Add some crack marks or other texture and use your hands to shape into a shallow bowl. Set the piece in a similar sized bowl to hold its shape as it air dries.

heart valentine bowl

To see the painting/finished method I like to use, check out this post on making your own paper clay bowls.

Are you excited to get dyeing and folding? I hope so! If you’re looking for more ways to prepare your paper before folding, watch this video featuring some fun techniques by Gina Lee Kim. I think these finished papers would look super cool folded into hearts!


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Working with A Medium that Flows and Glows | Watercolor

Painting inspiration by Leslie Redhead. The following is an excerpt from Leslie’s Watercolor 365: Daily Tips, Tricks and Techniques

Watercolor painting tips | Leslie Redhead,

Red Hollyhocks (watercolor, 17×11.5) by Leslie Redhead

Working with A Medium that Flows and Glows

by Leslie Redhead

Watercolor relies on the nature of water when it flows and mixes. Too much or too little water used at the wrong time can create unexpected complications–or it can provide some exquisite results. There is so much beauty to be found in its fickle temperament. Watercolor flows and it glows. It moves and dances unlike any other type of paint, allowing the painter to move and dance with it. The luminous quality of the paint can provide a freshness in a creation of art that is unique to watercolor.

It’s watercolor’s changeable nature that makes it so exciting. Due to watercolor’s temperament, it can be difficult to know where to begin. Some of us have to ease into it and others just take the plunge. And when you think you have it all figured out–it’ll surprise you with more possibilities. Trying to understand it can take a lifetime, but once it has a hold of you, it can be a love affair that lasts many, many years.

It’s my own love affair with watercolor and the joy that it brought into my life that led me to write Watercolor 365. I have been an instructor in Victoria, British Columbia, and developed friendships with many of my students. I have seen the art of watercolor painting heal broken hearts, restore energy to defeated bodies, and ease troubled minds. Not only have I experienced the confidence that painting brings to an anxious soul, but I have seen the confidence of my own students increase. I deeply care that these students–and now friends–continue on in their artistic journey.

After a move to Vancouver, I started a daily blog called Watercolor Weapons: Tips and Techniques for Conquering Watercolor, as a way to stay in touch with my former students. This blog offers watercolor painting tips and encouragement to continue to paint and pursue a creative life. Upon starting Watercolor Weapons, I began receiving questions from not only my students but from others around the world about watercolor and my studio practices. These questions and the answers were posted weekly and are now my Studio Secrets (many of which you will see in Watercolor 365). After a year of posting daily, I realized I had the beginnings of a book (that and all my beloved students requested that I do one). Thus, Watercolor 365 was created to offer tips and inspiration throughout a year of painting with watercolor. 

Watercolor painting tips | Leslie Redhead,

Splash of Red (watercolor, 22×30) by Leslie Redhead

Watercolor Studio Secrets #1 (Week 1, Day 7)

Over the years, I have received e-mails with questions about some of my painting preferences and techniques. I have decided to dedicate one day each week to answering such questions.

This week’s question is from Carol in Vancouver, British Columbia. She asks, “I have heard that watercolor paper has sizing in it. What is sizing?” 

Watercolor painting tips | Leslie Redhead,

This article is an excerpt from Watercolor 365 (order your copy here!)

Sizing is a chemical substance, usually a gelatin, that has been added to watercolor paper for a couple of reasons. First of all, sizing protects the paper from falling apart and possibly returning to a pulpy mess. The sizing keeps the paper fibers together. Second, the addition of sizing helps the paper be more water-resistant and thus less absorbent. Without the sizing, the paper becomes more like blotter paper, which sops up all the paint and water into one big mess.

Sizing can be added to paper either internally or externally, and sometimes it’s added in both ways. Internal sizing is added when the paper is still wet and before it has been put in a mould. External sizing is added to the paper after it has dried, improving the strength of the surface and water resistance.

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Sketchbooks Then and Now (Part 1) AND a Giveaway!

Editor’s note: The following post comes from Drawing magazine’s Material World column (Summer 2016) and features an article by Sherry Camhy on a timeless friend of the artist: the sketchbook.

Free art supplies |

Comment below to win this drawing set from Staedtler!

In addition to this free article, STAEDTLER is offering you the chance to win a set of FREE art supplies, just for commenting on this blog post! Tell us your favorite subject to sketch in the comments below, and you’ll be automatically entered to win. Here’s what’s included in the prize:

  • Set of 20 Mars Lumograph drawing pencils of assorted degrees for a wide range of gray tones with a metallic luster
  • Set of 6 Mars Lumograph black drawing pencils of assorted degrees with a higher proportion of carbon for the smoothness of graphite with the deep tones of charcoal
  • 2 art erasers: gum and kneadable

Come back soon for Part 2 of this article on sketchbooks from Drawing magazine and another chance to win more art swag!

Happy drawing,

Sketchbooks Then and Now |

French pocket sketchbook

Material World: Getting the Most out of Drawing Media

by Sherry Camhy, abridged from an earlier article

Today sketchbooks are everywhere—tucked in backpacks and carried under the arms of artists the world over. It’s easy to take for granted the existence of sketchbooks of all shapes, sizes and surfaces and hard to imagine a time when there were none at all. But throughout much of art history the possession of a sketchbook—or any kind of book, for that matter—was a rare privilege.

The evolution of the sketchbook can be considered as important a development for early artists as the invention of tubes for oil paint was for later ones. Both innovations liberated artists from the studio and freed them to work en plein air. Today artists, collectors and scholars have come to regard sketchbooks as works of art in their own right. Here we look at this sketching revolution and consider a few of the many ways sketchbooks can play a role in your art.

Sketchbooks Then and Now |

Reyer and the Washer Woman (ca. 1877, graphite, 20.5 x 27.5) by Edgar Degas. Collection J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, California.

Sketchbooks Throughout History

Drawing existed long before paper did, and early drawings were made on surfaces such as slate or wood tablets that could be cleaned and reused. The earliest sketchbooks were handmade and consisted of a few sheets of prepared boxwood, papyrus, vellum or parchment. In some cases, assorted drawings created by a master would be collected and bound together as a “model book” to be preserved as a reference for the next generation of artists. Eventually drawing books made of rag paper began to be produced, but for many years they were expensive and used sparingly.

During the Renaissance artists began to use personal sketchbooks for various purposes. Leonardo filled volumes with scientific speculations, anatomical drawings, quick sketches and notes for paintings. His private journals were intended as just that—private. Leonardo often wrote in code or reverse lettering to keep his observations secret. Unfortunately, after his death many of his journals were disassembled and sold as separate sheets. The books that were kept intact are invaluable, allowing us to discern the chronology of Leonardo’s ideas.

Over the ensuing centuries sketchbooks gradually became ubiquitous, and they have been crucial to the careers of innumerable artists. To take just one example, Picasso’s sketchbooks seem to have suited his occasional practice of semi-automatically repeating draw- ings, evolving them in such small increments that they can almost be viewed in rapid succession like a child’s flipbook. Picasso may have used this strategy when faced with a creative block, looking to find new ideas by rehearsing and perfecting old ones. His sketchbooks also indicate that his ideas did not necessarily fall neatly into the distinct stylistic periods suggested by some critics but instead flowed in a more cyclical way between old and new.

Technology now makes viewing master artists’ sketchbooks easier than it has ever been. Just like magic, we can flip through the pages of a master sketchbook on a computer, enlarging small areas to see them in great detail. For example, the Cambridge University Library allows free online access to the tiny watercolor sketchbook in which Conrad Martens worked while accompanying Charles Darwin aboard the HMS Beagle. And this summer several of Degas’ sketchbooks can be digitally browsed at the Museum of Modern Art, in New York, as part of the exhibition “Edgar Degas: A Strange New Beauty.”

Come back to ArtistsNetwork soon for Part 2: Sketchbooks Today (and another chance to win new drawing supplies!) And, remember to comment below with your sketchbook confession for your chance to win this set of art supplies from Staedtler! Winner will be chosen February 13, 2017 (must be a US resident).

Free art supplies |

Comment below for your chance to win this set from Staedtler!

The post Sketchbooks Then and Now (Part 1) AND a Giveaway! appeared first on Artist's Network.

Improve Your Painting with Still Lifes

Get back to basics with a still life painting!

Still life paintings allow you to take your time to focus on light and shadow, values, color, and shapes in a controlled atmosphere.

Still Life Painting with Richard Robinson

Still Life Painting by Richard Robinson

Setup a Simple Still Life
A great still life begins with the setup. Follow Richard Robinson’s tips for setting up a simple still life.

Use Value to Create Form
A range of values will create depth and dimension in your paintings.

Simple Steps to Success with Still Life Painting

Simple Steps to Success with Still Life Painting | Value Painting by Richard Robinson

To get more painting lessons to improve your skills using still lifes, join New Zealand artist, Richard Robinson, for Painting Still Lifes Part 1: Simple Shapes. In this video workshop, you’ll learn painting tips to

  • Capture gesture with brushstrokes
  • Color mixing techniques
  • How to see color as value
  • And more to paint simply with still lifes

Preview the Painting Still Lifes Part 1: Simple Shapes video here now, then visit to access the full-length video, and try out the Parts 2, 3, and 4 in this series.


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February 2017 Artist of the Month | Oil Painter Kelly Birkenruth

Congratulations to oil painter Kelly Birkenruth, our February Artist of the Month! Birkenruth was a finalist in The Artist’s Magazine‘s Annual Art Competition! Her piece Limes and Laughs can be seen below. Read more about the artist and why the limes in the piece were a fun challenge for her.

Avon, Connecticut ~

oil painter

Limes and Laughs (oil on panel, 12×16) by Kelly Birkenruth

My paintings tend to take quite a bit of time, so I like to choose subjects that I can live with for a while. One day I saw a pile of newspapers and comics on top of my kitchen table, lit by the morning sun, and I loved how it evoked nostalgic feelings of my childhood.

I love to paint fruit, and I thought that adding comics to it might be interesting. When I put them together, the combination was just too irresistible. Setting the scene seemed to take almost as long as painting it. I had to create folds in the paper that were just right, the preferred comics visible, as well as a nice overall color balance that would accentuate the limes. When the set up was to my liking, I began the painting with a loose charcoal drawing on the panel. Because the painting is so detailed, using smooth panels is imperative. I’m currently enamored with inner glow panels, which are from a company in Pennsylvania. I make indication marks over the drawing with pale ochre, thinned with Gamsol, then I immediately begin direct painting. Since I put a bright light on the set up to give me dramatic lights and shadows, the fruit needed to be worked on first, for the heat from the light tends to dry them out, which changes the color and the texture after a while. I use a typical artists palette with a lot of earth tones. For the comics, I had to add colors that I don’t usually use, such as Phthalo Turquoise from Gamblin and Magenta from Old Holland. Otherwise I couldn’t quite get the color accuracy that I needed. For an artist whose aesthetic leans toward monochromatic, using all these colors was a challenging excursion out of my comfort zone.

Painting the comics was my favorite part and great fun; each little panel is its own separate world. I loved recreating those little narratives in this painting. I grew up reading the comics every Sunday morning and have fond memories of those times. This painting was my humble attempt at paying homage to the cartoonists of my past.

Everything we artists paint should be exciting and engaging, or at the very least evoke some emotion within us. I believe that those feeling and that energy are apparent in the finished work, which ultimately makes for a successful painting.

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