quilts, treadle sewing machines, crochet, watercolor, dogs, & other fun stuff

30-Day Watercolor Challenge & Beyond


Well, I really ought to have the finished quilt top ready to share today, but I still need to press it after adding the last border, and I just haven’t felt like doing it!  Next time!

For now, this is the only pertinent photo… Some of the pieces of the final border before they were added to the quilt top:

The first two sides of the final border went on very easily and fit almost perfectly.  The second two sides were a bit too long. 

I should have gone back and tweaked it, but I just didn’t feel like putting in more effort, so I did the best I could to spread the extra fabric across the whole length of the quilt, and I’m sure it will be fine.  I’m the only one who will have to “suffer the consequences”, since I should be the one quilting it later.  If it ruffles, so be it!  It’s not a problem.

I’m really happy to be done piecing this one.  I loved the string-piecing, but putting on borders is NOT my idea of a good time.  I’m not sure what quilty thing I’ll work on next, but there’s no shortage of ideas.  

This bit barely merits mention, but I started a new diamond painting since finishing the fox.  It’s a picture of a bunch of succulents, and the colors are very pretty.  However, it’s a square-drill project, and I found myself not loving it.  I’ll get into it again, eventually, but for now, it’s not a go-to unwinding project.  

The square drills are supposed to be better for making a clear image on smaller canvas, but I don’t find them nearly as pleasant to work with as the round ones.  When I diamond paint, these days, I want something extremely easy, and the squares make it just a little too challenging for complete relaxation.  

Of course, part of my annoyance could have stemmed from the fact that I was watching/listening to a movie that turned out to be less than impressive.  (I don’t recommend You Should Have Left [2020].  It was boooring.)

30-Day Watercolor Challenge!

As I mentioned in earlier blog posts, there’s a 30-day challenge in a book I read recently—Painting Happiness, by Terry Runyan.  It’s mostly about just getting into the habit of playing with your paint (or any other creative medium you choose) every day for thirty days in a row.  The idea is to learn that you can ignore your inner critic, because often those self-imposed criticisms are invalid and unhelpful.  It’s also meant to help you form a habit of being creative daily, even if you can only spare a few minutes at a time.  

Since my last entry, I completed the challenge, so I’ll start by sharing what I did those last few days…

Day 27: "Bookshelf"

I took two photos, before and after inking.  It’s amazing to me how much difference adding a few lines can make!  I’ve learned that I really enjoy this type of watercolor and ink doodling.  

Day 28: "Hills"

I was working just from what was already on the palette, on this day.  This is mostly a couple of shades of green, watered down thin.  Again, a light wash of paint lays the groundwork for a fun doodle in black ink.  

Day 29: "Pizza"

I must’ve been hungry, this day…  I thought it would be entertaining to paint some simple pizza shapes, then go back in with color pencils to add the toppings.  

This is the kind of thing I remember drawing in crayon when I was a kid.  It’s still fun, all these years later!

Day 30: "Celebrate!"

For the last day of the challenge, it felt appropriate to have some cake as a celebration of reaching that daily goal.  Just watercolor and black ink details.

Challenge Completed!

What Next?

With the challenge over, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue to try to paint daily or not… In theory, it’s a nice idea, but I don’t want to feel guilty if I simply don’t end up doing that.  I don’t want to take that kind of pass/fail approach to my hobbies.  For a month or so at a time, a challenge can be motivational, but I don’t want permanent “accountability” in how I allocate my time or how consistent I am with my recreational pursuits.

Hobbies have a way of ebbing and flowing.  You only have so much free time and creative energy in a day or week, and you can’t devote the same amount of effort to every interest you have, forever, without missing out on the chance to try new and different things.  Right now, I’m in the “flow” mode of enjoying playing with watercolor and ink.  But sooner or later that will probably ebb a bit, and I’ll want to spend more time doing something else, instead.  

So for now, I’m not actively participating in any kind of personal challenge.  I’ll just paint as and when I want to.  It may be just about every day, anyway.  (I’ve only missed one day since the 30-day challenge ended, which is pretty good.)  But if I drift away to other things, that’s okay, too.  

First day after the challenge… I was feeling a little uncertain of how I wanted to proceed, but after 30 days of painting daily, it felt almost wrong not to paint.  This is what I ended up doing—just some extremely simple floral doodles in paint, with white gel pen highlights. 

For this next doodle, I took one of my old salt experiments.  It’s the one on the right in the photo below:

I followed the abstract areas of color, and created a landscape in black ink.  Eventually, I went back in with green in a few places—mainly the trees in the distance.  Then I added a (wobbly) moon in gel pen and a few lines in white color pencil for traces of cloud in the sky.

I really enjoyed working on this one, and I’m happy with how it turned out.  It never ceases to amaze me how you can take some blobs of color and create something interesting from them!

This last one was based on another tutorial I saw on YouTube.  My version turned out much more… I don’t know, naive?  Childish? …than the original, but it was still fun to try, and I’d like to do more of this type of thing again.  

Start with a wash of color and let it dry.  (Mine was messy.  I wasn’t prepared enough, to start with, and then I was interrupted, so I didn’t get the smoothest transitions between the colors.  Lesson:  Make sure you have all your washes mixed in advance, and maybe work wet-into-wet on this type of thing.)

Next, doodle some basic tree shapes, blobs, etc.  Whatever you want to draw.  

Finally, go back in to add details, patterns, textures, etc.  

I used markers for all of my details, but you can also use color pencils, ink, watercolor, or whatever you like to decorate your… trees, in my case.  Keep going until you think it’s done!

As childish as my picture turned out, it was still fun to make, and it has a 1970s cozy folk-art aesthetic that I actually kind of like.  


I’m Michael (a female Michael, to remove any doubt).  I live on the Alabama Gulf Coast with my husband, Donald, and our crazy American Eskimo Dogs. 

I love to fill my spare time with various crafts and other hobbies, and this blog is where I share photos, record my progress, and ramble endlessly.

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