Watercolor Coral Art Anyone Can Do

So, wayyyyy back about six years ago, FINALLY finished my master’s thesis on research and surveys I conducted for some of our local sea fan species (genus Leptogorgia for anyone who’s interested…).  While I wasted no time trashing all those journal articles and paperwork, something I got to keep around as a token of all that hard work were the corals themselves.  When they wash up, many dry out and, if handled carefully, can be displayed in their beautiful colors.  Usually you see just their dark brown flexible skeleton which is also beautiful.

Easy Watercolor Coral Art - This awesome tutorial shows how to use masking fluid to create neutral space in a watercolor, and also how to make a simple frame from wood trim. www.tableandhearth.com

Y’all know I’m no stranger to decorating with things found in nature, especially beach treasures, so when I found some deep mauve colored species washed up on the beach, I framed them and put on our mantle.  Every time I look at them I remember how much I love them and all the hard work those few years.

Easy Watercolor Coral Art - This awesome tutorial shows how to use masking fluid to create neutral space in a watercolor, and also how to make a simple frame from wood trim. www.tableandhearth.com

Suffice it to say, I’m a sucker for anything sea fan after spending so much time with them, so when we chose canvas as our item for this month’s Monthly DIY Challenge, I instantly knew what I wanted to make.

I had never heard of masking fluid, but once I saw it used by my friend Lindsey at Hello Hydrangea in this post, I knew it would be the perfect way to show (abstractly) the white little polyps on sea fans.  In looking at my comment on that post, I can also say that I’ve had this project in mind for a year and a half now!  #betterlatethannever

Easy Watercolor Coral Art - This awesome tutorial shows how to use masking fluid to create neutral space in a watercolor, and also how to make a simple frame from wood trim. www.tableandhearth.comaffiliatedisclosureshort

{Supplies for Watercolor Coral Canvas}

The masking fluid comes in liquid form and is dispensed out of a long teeny metal needle so that the line is super fine and precise.  It took a little bit of practice to get used to how it comes out, and I should have tried it on a scrap piece first, but I ended up liking my “oopsies” big blobs so I left them.  After a few minutes, it’ll dry into a clear rubber texture and you’re ready to paint.  If you mess up, just let it dry then peel it off and try again!

Easy Watercolor Coral Art - This awesome tutorial shows how to use masking fluid to create neutral space in a watercolor, and also how to make a simple frame from wood trim. www.tableandhearth.com

Easy Watercolor Coral Art - This awesome tutorial shows how to use masking fluid to create neutral space in a watercolor, and also how to make a simple frame from wood trim. www.tableandhearth.com

Once I got familiar with the masking fluid, I started dotting it in the pattern of a sea fan.  My goal here was for the masking fluid to be the coral’s polyps and remain white. Sea fans are super simple to draw because they’re just a bunch of loose freeform branches.

Easy Watercolor Coral Art - This awesome tutorial shows how to use masking fluid to create neutral space in a watercolor, and also how to make a simple frame from wood trim. www.tableandhearth.com

Once all my dots were dry, I started painting over them with the watercolor.  I went old-school and used the little pre-made rainbow oval set but by all means, use whichever watercolors you prefer :) I used a combination of the blue and black and went back with more or just water as needed to make it all look even.

Easy Watercolor Coral Art - This awesome tutorial shows how to use masking fluid to create neutral space in a watercolor, and also how to make a simple frame from wood trim. www.tableandhearth.com

After the watercolor is totally dry, it’s time to remove the masking fluid dots.  Put some tunes or Netflix on and grab a paper towel because this takes forever and the little sticky dots get every.where.  I started with tweezers but just started using my fingernails for the rest.  And afterwards you can also rub over the piece to feel any that you may have missed.

Easy Watercolor Coral Art - This awesome tutorial shows how to use masking fluid to create neutral space in a watercolor, and also how to make a simple frame from wood trim. www.tableandhearth.com

The white still felt a little too stark for me so I wanted to give it a more worn-in tone to dull it down a little.  A combo of Annie Sloan furniture wax in dark and clear was the best I could come up with.  I just dabbed a teeny amount of the dark onto a paper towel, then swooshed it in the clear and worked it onto the canvas.  I wanted something with a little more play than using paint, and something not involving water, so this worked great.

Easy Watercolor Coral Art - This awesome tutorial shows how to use masking fluid to create neutral space in a watercolor, and also how to make a simple frame from wood trim. www.tableandhearth.com

To match the beachy coral vibe, I framed my canvas with some 2″ oak strips mitered at the corners and stained with my FAVORITE stain to make weathered wood with, Weatherwood Stains.  I knew that their Reclamation stain turns oak a beautiful purply gray which is the look I wanted.  I will never tire of watching the wood “weather” just before my eyes in seconds, it’s really cool stuff!  I just hot-glued the strips to the sides instead of nailing to save time.

Easy Watercolor Coral Art - This awesome tutorial shows how to use masking fluid to create neutral space in a watercolor, and also how to make a simple frame from wood trim. www.tableandhearth.com

Here she is!  It came out even better than I expected!  I can’t decide if the frame or the “polyps” are my favorite part, I just know I love it.  The husband also raved about how cool the masking fluid was and said this is his favorite piece I’ve made.  You know it’s good with the husband loves it.

Easy Watercolor Coral Art - This awesome tutorial shows how to use masking fluid to create neutral space in a watercolor, and also how to make a simple frame from wood trim. www.tableandhearth.com

Easy Watercolor Coral Art - This awesome tutorial shows how to use masking fluid to create neutral space in a watercolor, and also how to make a simple frame from wood trim. www.tableandhearth.com

Easy Watercolor Coral Art - This awesome tutorial shows how to use masking fluid to create neutral space in a watercolor, and also how to make a simple frame from wood trim. www.tableandhearth.com

Easy Watercolor Coral Art - This awesome tutorial shows how to use masking fluid to create neutral space in a watercolor, and also how to make a simple frame from wood trim. www.tableandhearth.com

Easy Watercolor Coral Art - This awesome tutorial shows how to use masking fluid to create neutral space in a watercolor, and also how to make a simple frame from wood trim. www.tableandhearth.com

Easy Watercolor Coral Art - This awesome tutorial shows how to use masking fluid to create neutral space in a watercolor, and also how to make a simple frame from wood trim. www.tableandhearth.com

 

Now hop around and see everyone else’s canvas creations this month!!  They’re gorgeous!!

Easy Watercolor Coral Art - This awesome tutorial shows how to use masking fluid to create neutral space in a watercolor, and also how to make a simple frame from wood trim. www.tableandhearth.com

end of post - pin it2Easy Watercolor Coral Art - This awesome tutorial shows how to use masking fluid to create neutral space in a watercolor, and also how to make a simple frame from wood trim. www.tableandhearth.com

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23 thoughts on “Watercolor Coral Art Anyone Can Do

    1. Aw, thanks so much Ashley, and yes, tell him to play with it! You can do some really cool designs with it and even use it to make a border to stay within your lines. I definitely think I’ll be making a mate for this one :)

  1. Emily, I love love LOVE this! I’m a sucker for sea things, but this is so cool! I’ve never heard of masking fluid and can’t wait to try it! Also, great job on the watercolor! I bought I set of watercolor paints a year ago and haven’t touched them. Now I feel inspired to finally try them!

    1. I totally should have gone for the big-girl watercolors I know, but I was scared and stayed old-school :) It was alot easier than I anticipated which is always nice, so go for it!!

  2. This work of art is seriously gorgeous and looks like you could buy it from a high-end home decor store. You better sell these, girl! I love the watercolor paired with the wood frame – it’s all so coastal and gorgeous and calming and perfect in your house!

  3. Your watercolor painting turned out fantastic! I’ve used masking fluid before, but I didn’t know they sell it as a pen, which is really awesome!. I have a special artist eraser for removing masking fluid which takes only seconds or minutes, depending on how much you have on your paper.

  4. This is gorgeous! Great job I think I need to paint with watercolors now! You made it look so easy. Thank you so much for sharing this pin on the P3 party Board! I love it and it will be featured on the blog and my social media tomorrow! So look for a little traffic from me!
    Best,
    Kim

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