Painting lights - Using values and layering with watercolors

Painting lights - Using values and layering with watercolors

How to paint lights with watercolors-tutorial by CreativeIngrid

One of the main qualities of watercolors is that by varying the amount of water and pigment that we use, the result can be very transparent or even opaque.

To practice transparency and color value in my book ‘DIY Watercolor Christmas’, I proposed a project called ‘Layering Circles’ (Photo 1). A wet on dry exercise where we can observe this quality while layering circles.

By using the same principle we can create the effect of light in a fun and simple way. I exemplify this with a string of lights (Photo 2), but I didn’t go trough the process. So I thought it will be handy to create a step-by-step tutorial.

Layering circles with watercolors, tutorial Painting a string of lights with watercolors
Layering Circles String of lights

The following tutorial is for a yellow light, but you can create lights in many colours. The key is always to work from light to dark, so don’t be afraid of using enough water to achieve this. You can only use one color if you want, although I propose using two for a more interesting effect.

I also created a quick video that can be found as a reel on mi IG account where I added a blue back ground just for fun. It is a more experimental approach where I also sparkle some salt for an additional texture.


For this project you will need:

  • Watercolor paint
  • Watercolor paper
  • Pencil or watercolor pencil
  • Brushes

Color palette

Lemon Yellow and Pyrole Orange




1. Paint a translucid yellow circle and let dry. 2. Draw the light bulb using a watercolor pencil.
3. Make a watery mix of Lemon Yellow and Pyrole Orange, and paint a second circle, slightly smaller than the first. Go around the light bulb in step 3 and 4, we want to reserve the original color. Allow to dry. 4. Add more orange to your mix and paint a third smaller circle.
5. Repeat this step if you wish with smaller circles, I painted a total of five circles. 6. Leave the light bulb as is or add more color if you wish. I added more yellow and orange. Using a gray watercolor pencil, draw the base of the light bulb.
7. I drew some lines to resemble the idea of a strain. 8. Try it using different colors!



For the group of lights with a blue background in the video I used:

Lemon Yellow, Cadmium Yellow Light, Pyrole Orange, Cobalt Teal, Ultramarine Blue, Cobalt Blue, Indigo.

NOTE: This tutorial is based in the projects of the book ‘DIY Watercolor Christmas’ by Ingrid Sanchez, AKA CreativeIngrid. Publisher: David & Charles (13 July 2021).
* With thanks to Cass Art (UK) for providing the watercolors for testing them.
November 26, 2021 — Ingrid Sanchez
DIY: Christmas Ornaments - Paint on glass using Watercolor Ground

DIY: Christmas Ornaments - Paint on glass using Watercolor Ground

DIY: Christmas Ornaments - Paint on glass using Watercolor Ground

It’s that time of the year when we start thinking about Christmas decorations, and because I am all about handmade, I want to share one of my favorite projects from my book ‘DIY Watercolor Christmas’: the galaxy ornaments.

I love this project because it is also a cool way to experiment with Watercolor Ground, an absorbent primer that allows us to paint on many different surfaces such as paper, glass, wood, metal, fabric and plastic.

It is also interesting to observe how some texture techniques react differently than they do on paper. This is a fun and slightly messy activity that can be done with children.


Galaxy ornaments, tutorial by CreativeIngrid. DIY Christmas Ornaments, tutorial by Ingrid Sanchez, AKA CreativeIngrid.

Additional tips for applying watercolour ground

Some brands recommend sanding non-absorbent surfaces first, but I prefer to apply a coat of white acrylic paint instead.

After applying a coat of white acrylic and allowing it to dry, for best results you will need to apply two coats of watercolor ground, allowing for drying time in between coats. Once the second coat has been applied, allow it to cure for at least 24 hours before beginning to paint with your watercolors.

For this project you will need:

  • Watercolor paint
  • Glass ornaments
  • White acrylic
  • Watercolor ground
  • Table salt
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Brushes
  • Toothbrush or brush with stiff bristles
  • Spray bottle (optional)

Color palette

I use a mix of Prussian Blue, Indigo, Payne’s Grey, Ultramarine Blue, Cinnabar Red. To give each bauble its own personality, change the dominant blue for each one. Indigo and Payne’s Grey will result in an intense shade, and by adding a little Cinnabar Red to the mix we get a lovely purple.

NOTE: This video tutorial is based in the ‘Galaxy Ornament’ project of the book ‘DIY Watercolor Christmas’ by Ingrid Sanchez, AKA CreativeIngrid. Publisher : David & Charles (13 July 2021).

October 25, 2021 — Ingrid Sanchez
My experience writing ‘DIY Watercolor Christmas’

My experience writing ‘DIY Watercolor Christmas’

The dream of writing a book
Way before I became a full time artist, I worked in the publishing industry designing and managing manuscripts and corrections. I flirted with the idea of publishing a book several times and even had a couple of attempts writing, illustrating and self-publishing children books, but I never managed to find a publishing house interested in them and they never saw the light apart from a few copies bought by friends and family.


Painting a Christmas Wreath, DIY Watercolor Christmas. Ingrid Sanchez 2021. | CreativeIngrid | Publisher David & Charles.

Painting a Christmas Wreath for the project 'Traditional Wreath'. This is also the artwork used on the cover of 'DIY Watercolor Christmas', Ingrid Sanchez 2021.


On December 2019 editorial DK invited me as a collaborator on the book ‘Watercolor Techniques for Artists & Illustrators’ (you can get a copy here) where you can find three tutorials detailing some of my best known techniques. However, the big surprise arrived a little later in February 2020 when I received a call from the publisher David & Charles asking me whether I would be interested in writing a watercolor book with Christmas as its main theme.


I was of course very excited about it, but hesitant at the same time because for years I had envisaged that if I were to publish something it will be floral or botanical related. On the other hand,I thought that it would be a unique book, a fun way to teach and introduce some of my techniques with a different approach. Not only the opportunity to publish my first solo book, but an incredible learning experience as well.


Writing a book in pandemic times
In March 2020 I signed the contract, we started planning the content of the book, scheduled a visit to the publisher’s offices and the meeting with the photographer… and then COVID-19 happened. Not only the UK but the whole world went into lock down, I got what is now called long COVID and I was sick for over ten months.
Taking photos in my studio for DIY Watercolor Christmas. Painting star glass baubles with watercolor, galaxy texture. DIY Watercolor Christmas, Ingrid Sanchez | CreativeIngrid.
Trying to capture the step-by-step process
Painting glass baubles with a galaxy texture


This book will always be in my memory as a lifesaver for my mental health, something that allowed me to look forward in one of the darkest years I have ever experienced. It was so challenging from the very beginning but at the same time an amazing experience and I wanted to share the journey with you.


To start, my first in-person meeting with the team was cancelled multiple times and we decided to do it via Zoom (something unusual back then but very common now!). When the date of the call arrived I could barely talk as I had lost my voice. It turned out to be most unusual meeting I have ever had - luckily the team was great and managed to get through it ok!


The next challenge was that the photographer couldn’t be with me, so I tried to take the photos myself but I soon found that it was a near impossible task. Try holding a camera and painting at the same time! The next challenge was to capture the step-by-step process without the need for photography. The obvious answer was to scan each step, the problem is that I work with a lot of water and wet on wet is one of my favorite techniques, making scanning rather difficult. My solution was to paint the same thing four, sometimes six times, so I could scan the steps.


Once the first lockdown was over and I had enough projects, the publishers proposed to send the photographer to my studio. We settled on the first week of November 2020 - he spent the first half day setting up all the equipment, but then we learned that we were going into a second national lockdown and the rest of the session was cancelled. He came by the next day, but only to dismantle and take away the equipment.
And I did it!


Photography session at David & Charles for the book DIY Watercolor Christmas. Photography of art supplies for the book DIY Watercolor Christmas, Ingrid Sanchez.
Photography session at David & Charles offices Taking photos of my art supplies


When I finished writing the text, it was time to work with the proofreader. What a great experience having someone catch all the little mistakes and make sure my instructions were clear. Keep in mind that English is my second language and never had I imagined that I would be writing a book that was not in Spanish. It was also amazing to think that I painted and wrote all that text while fighting constant brain fog and body aches. With inhalators at hand and in between a couple trips to the hospital in an ambulance, I did it! I wrote a whole book... in English!

Books for the pre-release
Holding the first copy!


By December 2020 the text and the projects were ready, but we still had no photography and as a result they started talking about delaying the release to 2022. After all the effort we had put in, my heart was broken. But then a miracle:  Between moving to a new house and a third lockdown the publishers found a well ventilated studio in Exeter where we could finally do a photo shoot. I hopped on a train but with all my excitement missed the stop and arrived into Exter late at night three hours later than scheduled. The city was empty and there were no taxis anywhere. An adventure from beginning to end!


‘DIY Watercolor Christmas: Easy painting ideas and techniques for cards, gifts and décor’ finally came together a year after we started planning it. This book is not what I thought I would be publishing as a first book, but life is never what we think it will be. And I am so grateful for it, so incredibly fortunate to be alive and sharing this story. The first copies arrived this week and my heart glows with happiness.


I loved creating this book because it made me think as a beginner again. I couldn’t teach workshops during 2020 but I wrote something that will help a larger audience, and having taught so many classes in the past has given me good insight into the needs of those wanting to learn. The theme doesn’t matter, the medium behaves the same way no matter if you’re painting flowers, galaxies or Christmas wreaths.


I hope this book speaks to you and helps you discover a medium that has brought so much joy to my life. And of course it is a big plus if you love Christmas!

June 18, 2021 — Ingrid Sanchez