Watercolor Mosaic Background

I’m Suzanne and I’m so excited to share how I create these watercolor mosaic backgrounds. I love to make these because they are easy to do (really!!), look SPECTACULAR, give you an opportunity to slow down and meditate over your art, and have endless opportunities for variation.

Supplies

  • Paper — plain or printed. If printed, make it low contrast or toned down with gesso. You’ll use the watercolor paint fairly dry, so any kind of paper will work.
  • Watercolor paint
  • Small round brush — I use a Winsor & Newton Cotman 111 No. 1
  • Markers or paints or collage paper for your featured image

Process

Create your featured image

Paint, draw, or collage your featured image.

Ideas!

  • Repeated shapes 
  • A collection of shapes 
  • Cut out letters 

The sky’s the limit, but keep it bold and leave plenty of white space–but not TOO much white space (or you’ll be painting background forever…).

Plan your background

Do you want high contrast? Or do you want to play with low contrast? Do some testing on a separate piece of paper of your color choices make sure the featured image will stand out.

Here’s a trick: take a photo with your phone and use a B&W filter on it. If the main design really pops in black and white, you have enough contrast — if it blends in, you’ll want to adjust your plan–unless you want it to be low-contrast! It’s all up to you!

Color palette

There are SO MANY OPTIONS. Almost too many! Even a single color of watercolor paint can give you a huge range of values. Or use several different shades of the same color.

Pick multiple colors — use the whole rainbow! Or pick a narrower color palette, based on a theme. I used red, green, and a gold for a Christmas project. Just make sure that they are similar in value and have enough contrast with your featured image.

Shapes

Triangles. Circles. Squares. I gravitate toward the triangles the most because they are fun to fit together and pretty forgiving.

But I also really love dots, so those are pretty great, too.

Get painting

Phew — it’s finally time to paint that background. I like to work from the center out, but I do turn the page around so I’m making sure I’m avoiding resting my hand on wet paint.
Keep your drush fairly dry. You don’t want blobs of water!

I will often paint a section and then go do something else, coming back to my page at different times throughout a day or even a few days. Depending on the size of the page you pick and the amount of white space you left, this technique will take some time to do. Make sure you don’t sit for too long at one time and that you take frequent stretch breaks!

I hope you’ve enjoyed making a page with a watercolor mosaic background! There are so many variations and possibilities, I’m almost giddy with the idea of seeing what everyone creates.

Action Steps

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Start with a bold word or phrase — maybe celebrate GET MESSY today and letter it in bold black marker.

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Paint your background in a single color or go for the whole messy rainbow and take the time to meditate on what you’ve learned from Get Messy and your fellow Get Messians.

Suzanne Earley

Suzanne lives in a small town in Iowa and spends her days as a multi-tasking wizard (aka school secretary). At night, she binge watches TV shows, makes art, knits, embroiders, reads, and writes. Her twin boys are off at college and her husband is a farmer. Her cat probably needs his own Instagram, but she’s afraid he’d have a bigger following than her.

22 Comments

  1. Alyssa Rothwell

    I love all your variations of this mosaic background. It does look very meditative!!

    • Suzanne Earley

      Thanks, Alyssa! The hard part of getting this ready was not going on and on about all of the ways you can vary this! I can’t wait to see what other people do!

  2. Maura Flood

    Great tutorial, Suzanne. I love the look your mosaic technique gives to a journal page. I’ll definitely try this!

    • Suzanne Earley

      Thanks Maura! Can’t wait to see what you do! <3

  3. Chris Silker

    Hobbes!! 😀

    • Suzanne Earley

      I have to be honest. I was super excited when he photobombed. I thought it was PERFECT.

  4. Julia Bethmann

    What a great idea! Love your pages!

  5. Michelle Johnson

    Yay for celebrating you!

  6. Gina Nieto

    Super-duper tutorial. I’m going to give it a try this weekend.

  7. Rose Sheridan

    I’m now doing this at the weekend, the dotty one is my favourite! ❤

  8. Kristin

    This is so awesome Suzanne. I love all the backgrounds.

  9. Phill Rushmere

    This is fantastic Suzanne, thank you so much for sharing!

  10. Kellye Crocker

    I can’t wait to try this, Suzanne! Your pages are gorgeous! I also love that you’re an Iowan! I live in Colorado now but grew up in Ames, returned and lived in DM for 26 years and thought I’d die happy there but four years ago my husband’s Iowa-based company had an opening here in Denver.

  11. Kellye Crocker

    Ps I’m also new to Get Messy! Excited to see an iowan here! Xo

  12. Alexandra merlin

    Such beautiful pages ! Thanks !

  13. Jen Valente

    I love this idea! I can’t wait to give it a try.

  14. Lauren

    eeeek! I love this so much!! thanks for all your tips – so helpful!

  15. Emma louise szostok

    I love the dotty flowers ! Fabulous work

  16. Sasha Zinevych

    Doing this tonight! So fun! Thanks so much for sharing, Suzanne!

  17. Michelle Ward

    Wow that was fun – quite meditative too!!!

  18. formerlystars

    This looks great, and I love the meditative repetition. Can’t wait to to try!