[The DIY Files] watercolor word play.

Like many of the 20-something American women out there, I have a disease called ‘I Can Make That’-tis. Even though my skill sets may be nowhere in the same ballpark as what’s needed to make something I can more-easily buy… I would much rather make it. It REALLY becomes a problem when I see a high-end item, or a runway trend, and the wheels begin turning in my head. That’s where The DIY Files come to the rescue.

Hot Glue crisis… AVERTED!


details / paints and splotches.

Inspiration can strike at anytime, but what helps the process along is having some words of encouragement, some imagery of creative spirit, or even a gentle reminder that no matter how bad things get, that day of crap will come to an end. I chose to use a colloquial phrase as a reminder of being disconnected emotionally at highly stressful times — specifically since I tend to allow them to affect me far more than necessary.

The great thing about this project is that pretty much anyone can utilize any number of artistic elements to make the ‘print’ their own. Drawing from the ‘academia’ trend of letterman jackets and varsity emblems, this phrase-tastic piece can be hung at your desk for when you need a bit of calm reassurance.


  • medium to heavy-weight paper, can be multimedia compatible or textured bristol for certain media. I’m using Bristol for watercolor and acrylic, so it has some weight and thickness that won’t tear with the copious amounts of water to come.
  • a quote or phrase that you will actually want to see everyday (or at least often). Nothing longer than 10 words, otherwise you’ve got the start of a thesis going…
  • different media! Here, I’m using watercolors to begin with and see where the piece takes me. You can also use acrylic paint, color pencils, or just pen ink.
  • a surface covered in disposable cloth or a basic poster board.
  • felt-based stick on letters! You’ll use these to write out your phrase. There are also vinyl-based letters available as well, BUT you’ll be using the negative space created by the lettering to be the focus, so the letters will need to be able to peel off without ruining the paper.



collage 1

On to the instructions!

1. Taking the stick-on letters, pick out the letters needed for your phrase or quote. Arrange them as you’d like, but experiment on the paper first with the backing still on; this way, you can move the lettering around without the paper being affected.


yep. none given here.

2. Once you’ve decided on the arrangement, use a ruler to create lines where the phrases will be.

3. Begin peeling the backing off the letters and individually place them onto the paper.

collage 2

4. Prepare the painting/color media on a separate surface. In this case, since I’m using watercolors, I have an acrylic palette where I’ve mixed my dark blue and green paint and diluted it down to use for the background.

5. Paint, paint, paint! Whether you’re using acrylic or watercolor, oils or something else, you want to add on colors in layers.

IMG_7557 IMG_7556

** After I painted the first layer of watercolors, I placed additional letters that were somewhat scattered and random surrounding the phrase. This gives the illusion that the letters are sitting further behind the colored haze.


6. Keep adding layers of paint until you’re happy with the result.


7. If you’re using watercolors or adding pieces of a collage, allow the piece to dry for an hour or so.

8. Begin to slowly peel off the letters for your phrase/quote. If there’s any residual adhesive remaining, the easiest (and least damaging) way to remove it would be to rub the adhesive until it rolls off the paper’s surface.


9. Make any additional illustrations and creative touches until you feel you’re done!

10. For that ‘museum’ quality appearance, frame the piece with a mat board or sleek frame.


details / splatters and drips, still no shits given.


I’m still working on adding some ink illustrations, so I’m going to frame it once I convince myself it’s done.

If you attempt this project, let me know how it turns out!

Back to my lonely tower…



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