November 5, 2019

How I get inspired for my Christmas watercolor paintings

I love Christmas. I love Christmas paintings, Christmas decoration, the smell of roasted chestnuts in the street, going to the theatre at night, walking around with a heavy coat, a scarf and a hat, shopping for your loved ones, drinking hot chocolate while snowing.

So it goes without saying that every Christmas, I go shopping to take photos of beautiful and funny Christmas decoration. I then sit at my desk, look at the photos and get inspired to paint. You can also read about my 2018 Christmas painting challenge at my blog (30 Days of Christmas in watercolors). 


Below I show you how I turn an image into watercolor art. My usual process is to brainstorm, use artistic license, combine, add or remove items from the photo, make abstract etc. Since these are illustrations, I usually use Pebeo watercolor inks on hot pressed watercolor paper (Hahnemuhle, 600 gsm) and rarely paint shadows and tones, rather keep it simple.


The first one is a photo I took of a reindeer and a crystal ball. I made this photo slightly different by changing the inside of the crystal ball from a red cardinal to a home, as it made more sense to me and (reindeer missing its home in Christmas).

Next, I saw two different decorations at a shop, one of a male deer and one of a totem of a santa claus, a snowman and a penguin. At first these two decorations seemed totally irrelevant. But I liked both and I wanted to combine them somehow. So, inspiration struck, and I imagined a female deer (no antlers) playing jenga with her friends (thus the penguin is ready to fall off the totem) when she grasps snowman.

I was just walking around and saw two girls taking a selfie with their Christmas hats on. I was thus inspired to paint a snowman and an elf (which is a favourite Christmas subject) taking a selfie. 

So I searched my images and found a photo of a sweet snowman ornament, which I used as reference.

Finally, I painted an illustration of a boat with snowmen based on a decoration I saw. I changed the snowmen making them more chubby. 

The paintings are available for sale at my Etsy shop (