Hand Made Christmas Gifts

Posted: December 23, 2011 in Illustration

Hand Painted Ceramic Mugs

Not too long ago my father, a Floridian for 50 years, decided to move to the mountains and asked me to paint a few quaint things with rustic mountain scenes to sell in his shop. Since then we thought we’d just start with canvases, but the project stalled, probably because I don’t generally get inspired to paint rustic mountain scenes.

So this Christmas, being quite crafty and festively frugal (ie: broke), I thought, “What sort of gift is good for Dad this year.” And quite probably, like many daughters, I have a very solid standby that is pretty much always involved in gifts to Dad; in my case, coffee and all things related. So this year, I thought I might paint some rustic mountain scenes on some coffee mugs and ship them up to Dad to see if it was what he had in mind. Since I had already purchased some Matte Spray Gloss for a decoupage project, and I own a kit of watercolors, all I needed were some plain, light-colored mugs and an idea. So I went to my local Goodwill and found the perfect set of 3 plain white ceramic mugs (obviously at Goodwill because they were 3, not 4, so a perfectly used set, LoL.) Now, my stepmother Anne is just the sort of person who donates these dish trio’s, so I knew my illustration would have to tie them all together, making the 3 a whole instead of a gimp. So I made this sketch:

Sketch for my mountain winter scene mug set

First, I made a rough sketch of the scene I wanted to paint.

This rudimentary thing became my muse, if you will, or my blueprint for the mugs. As you can see, I thought of a rustic mountain winter scene, and I stretched it across the 3 mugs in my mind. I figured the tricky part would be getting the snowbanks to line up so that the scene appeared seamless. As it turned out, that was a very simple effect to achieve, just by eyeballing it!

Now it was time to take out the watercolors and see if I could pull this off. The watercolor paint worked remarkably well on the glossy, ceramic surface. I hadn’t ever painted on that substrate before, least of all with watercolors, but the quick-drying color and easy spot-removal via water made it simple for an amateur painter like me to create some nifty effects. I Painted the sky first, a blue, and I used it to “frame out” the whole illustration. Then I’d speed up the already quick drying process with my blow dryer and paint the mountains, majestic purple of course, right on top. Then the happy little fir trees were planted in atop the trees layer, but the paint underneath would just make way. If I liked the random mix of color, I kept it drier, if I didn’t, I’d wash it out and the new layer of color would be vibrant. Now I needed to use water to wash off the blue on the bottom of the “frame” and make the negative space appear to be snowbanks. I found out that if I used a wide brush to clear off the bulk of the pigment, then I could dab a sopping wet brush along certain areas (holding the mug in the direction I wanted the water to roll) and as the water dripped it would make these very natural, snow bank looking wisps of color. Total success!

Here is the gallery of the final paintings, click on an image to view the gallery.

Aside from my rudimentary grasp of painting techniques and unashamed brushstrokes, I think this project met my expectations, and even exceeded them. Let’s hope Pops likes them, and if Annie likes them, then I’ll know they’re a hit!

Want to make your own? Here’s all the stuff I used:

Corelle Winter Frost White Coffee Mug – 11 Oz
3 White Corelle Stoneware coffee mugs
Reeves Water Colour Paint Sets set of 12

Reeves Watercolor Set of 12

Crayola 5ct Art and Craft Brush Set
Paintbrushes of various sizes
Krylon 1311 Matte Finish Spray for Artists
Krylon Matte Finish clear spray

Want to commission your own set?

Click here to commission All or Nothing Design.

Please share your comments and questions!

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