Watercolor Calendar

February 28, 2011

watercolor calendar watercolor calendar watercolor calendar

We love a big wall calendar at our house, so I decided to make one this weekend. I used my kids’ watercolors — little tubes of gouache (pronounced gwash) — and oversize sheets of paper. If you haven’t tried gouache before, don’t be intimidated. It’s basically opaque watercolor, and it’s really easy to work with. Find instructions below.

paint on plate watercolor calendar

Watercolor Calendar How-to:

1) Use a shallow plate or pie pan as a palette. Fill it with a thin mix of paint and water (approx 1 inch of paint squeezed from the tube and 1/4 cup water). Use a paint brush or spoon to mix and dissolve the paint in the water.

paints on plates watercolor calendar paint on plate watercolor calendar paints on plates watercolor calendar

2) For the squares, instead of a brush, use a household sponge. I cut one into a 2 1/2 inch shape that was just right for us. But depending on your paper, you could go bigger or smaller.

sponges and scissors watercolor calendar

3) Dip your sponge flat into in the watercolor and set it lightly on the paper. Experiment on a sample paper first to see if you need to press the sponge down or tap it to get the coverage you prefer. Once you’re happy with your technique use the real paper.

watercolor calendar sponge painting watercolor calendar

4) Continue dipping the sponge into the paint every 4th square or so — or whenever you feel like the sponge needs more color. Tip: I kept the calendar app on my phone next to me while I worked so I could reference which day of the week each month started and ended on.

watercolor calendar

5) Let the calendars lay flat to dry for a few hours, then use your favorite pen or marker to fill them in.

watercolor calendar

Extra bonus: with tube paints, it’s easy to mix up a custom color if you have a unique one in mind — maybe the perfect shade of chartreuse to match your curtains.

watercolor calendar

The project was super simple and I think they turned out great. Now we have plenty of room to pencil in a year’s worth of adventures.

P.S. — Fun Fact: French calendars have weeks that begin on Monday and end on Sunday, but I used the traditional American format for our calendar.

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{ 55 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lola G. February 28, 2011 at 6:25 am

You are so clever — I love the way these look! I don’t have a need for a large calendar, but I’m going to consider doing this for something else. So fab.


2 sarah @ cookingpretty February 28, 2011 at 6:51 am

very cute idea – how did you prevent them from curling up after they dried?


3 Design Mom February 28, 2011 at 7:45 am

Hi Sarah. Great question. Luckily, curling wasn’t a problem for two reasons. 1) there is actually very little water used, and 2) the paper is a mid-weight stock. Not too heavy, but heavier than text weight.


4 jes [a mountain bride] February 28, 2011 at 6:52 am

oh lovely!!


5 Jill V. February 28, 2011 at 7:17 am

Great, easy idea for the kids to keep track of their school and activity schedules. I think this is one for us to try soon! And it looks like artwork – a bonus!

Thanks for the inspiration as always.



6 Jess February 28, 2011 at 7:58 am

These are great! Thanks so much for sharing!


7 JWK February 28, 2011 at 8:03 am

Love me some gouache!! Great project!!


8 London Lisa February 28, 2011 at 8:09 am

What a great project and they look fantastic!


9 Adrienne February 28, 2011 at 8:18 am

Love this project and the idea of being able to mix custom colors!


10 Alicia W. February 28, 2011 at 8:22 am

I love this! My kids are just starting to figure out how calendars work…we might have to make these for them to learn to keep track of their activities!


11 tururu February 28, 2011 at 8:27 am

Very nice proyect!! I´ll post it and link it in my blog.

Thanks for sharing :D

King regards from Madrid, Spain


12 Alyssa February 28, 2011 at 8:49 am

This is great! I was out looking for a big calendar the other day. So much more fun to just make one. Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best. This post brought one of those “why didn’t I think of that?” moments!


13 Jan @ Family Bites February 28, 2011 at 8:49 am

What a fun project. I love how there is room at the bottom for notes or things that may not fit into the designated square for a particular date.


14 Cindy J February 28, 2011 at 8:52 am

Very cute! So where are you displaying these in your new house? Do you have just a month or two up, or the entire year?


15 Cerise February 28, 2011 at 8:55 am

What a beautiful idea! Wish I had the room for a big calendar like that!


16 Meg Waite Clayton February 28, 2011 at 9:09 am

Makes me long for my kids to be little again.


17 Spramani E'Laun February 28, 2011 at 9:50 am

What a lovely idea, my kids and I have done a similar project with stamps. I like the large format you did here. We do everything big here also. I live with two young designers 11 and nine and I’m sure they will get a kick out of this idea and add some of their own touches to this. If young kids are doing this project I recommend using only paints meant for young kids. Thanks for the tip!……… eco-green art teacher, Spramani E’Laun


18 Lauren February 28, 2011 at 10:01 am

I love this idea! I have been on a search for the perfect wall calendar and have yet to find one that I like this year. My favorite part is that I can decided exactly how large I want the squares to be. Thanks for the great idea!


19 Susan February 28, 2011 at 10:04 am

This is a fantastic idea! It looks lovely.


20 Autumn February 28, 2011 at 10:13 am

Beautiful-the calendar and your daughter! I’m so impressed that you already squeezed a project in! I think I’d still be unpacking!!


21 Ashlea Walter February 28, 2011 at 10:24 am

How fun to see a gouache project – one of my favorites from my school years! So versatile and I love the vibrancy of the colors that are difficult to attain with simple watercolor paints.


22 Stephanie February 28, 2011 at 10:52 am

A really great project and something I’ll be doing next year. I’ve never found a calendar big enough for everyone in the family to write down their appointments and important days. Until now! Thank you for the inspiration!


23 marla February 28, 2011 at 10:55 am

Love this giant calendar idea! I used to work in gouache for textile design – loved it. You have inspired me to start again.


24 Katerina February 28, 2011 at 11:04 am

I love it!!
thank you for inspiration))


25 grace February 28, 2011 at 11:14 am

What a great idea! I’ve been looking for a calender, now we can just make our own. :)


26 NicoleK February 28, 2011 at 11:16 am

How fun! I love our dry erase board… But I also love any opportunity for art with my boys (4&6). We will do this tonight and keep it below our dry erase =). Thank you once again!!


27 Mom in Mendon February 28, 2011 at 11:42 am

Before reading, I saw the photo of the lovely young lady writing on the calendar and thought, “Oh, a guest post.” Then I looked closer. Darling Maude!!


28 Bettijo @ Paging Supermom February 28, 2011 at 12:15 pm

What an inspiring calendar. I love it!


29 bdaiss February 28, 2011 at 12:57 pm

Gorgeous! If and when I ever actually truly get my library/office, I would love something like this! (I don’t care to have our family calendar out for all our visitors to peruse so it lives inside a cabinet right now.) Of course having that space requires our finishing our unfinished basement. It’s gonna be awhile. : )


30 kalanicut February 28, 2011 at 3:06 pm

Lovely idea. I was just thinking I needed a calendar for my new workspace.


31 amanda February 28, 2011 at 5:05 pm

When the page loaded, my first thought on seeing the calendar image was “Oh wow, how beautiful! Where can I buy that?” My 2nd thought was “Oh wow, they made these? I cannot wait to DO that!” And my third was, wow, how amazing and creative Gabrielle is. Thanks for being a continual inspiration!


32 alix February 28, 2011 at 6:10 pm

Yes! Love it. Love the water color, love calendars…..love. it. all.

Just finished a homemade calendar with my four year old yesterday…to try and motivate some good sleep.


33 the sleepy time gal February 28, 2011 at 7:09 pm

i love the idea! it is very simple and beautiful.


34 Jandee Jones February 28, 2011 at 7:12 pm

Love the calendar! Now that you live in France you’ll have to mark down Bastille Day as well!


35 r8chel February 28, 2011 at 7:33 pm

I love this… and it has given me all kinds of ideas for making my own calendars.

This evening my seven-year-old wanted me to color with her, so I created a calendar with crayons… and when she saw what I was doing, she decided to make a calendar too. Thanks for the inspiration!


36 Michelle February 28, 2011 at 9:07 pm

I love this, what a fun arts and crafts project to do with the family.


37 Jennifer Milton February 28, 2011 at 9:15 pm

OH MY!!! this has to be one of my most favorite things I’ve seen you do. Fabulous. I’m making calendars tomorrow!!!!! My kiddos will llooove this.



38 nikki February 28, 2011 at 10:44 pm

After my years in design college, I swore off gouache. I just despised working with it day after day however, you have given me new reason to pick up a few jars in some lovely colours. Thanks for opening my eyes again!


39 Corinne March 1, 2011 at 1:37 am

Great calendar! I just want to bring to your attention that July 1st is Independence Day, and July 14st is National Day in France …


40 tururu March 1, 2011 at 1:51 am
41 woodsermom@hotmail.com March 1, 2011 at 7:07 am

Just rode our bikes to Baumarkt (German equivalent to Lowe’s – only with a bakery in the front of the store and beer on tap!! not making this up -haha!) to buy paint and now we are beginning our calendars. Such a pretty idea!


42 Haydee March 1, 2011 at 9:42 am

Love this! Been looking for more artistic projects to do with my eager 4 year old and this would be great. We can practice days of the week too:)


43 sara March 1, 2011 at 12:03 pm

Swoooooooon :) Love this so much.


44 Lori C. March 1, 2011 at 1:45 pm

Your calendar inspired me. You can look at my website to see my version. Love your blog so much!


45 Lori C. March 1, 2011 at 1:47 pm
46 Christina March 1, 2011 at 7:03 pm

What did you pin them to?


47 Renee (Kudos Kitchen) March 3, 2011 at 7:22 am

What a nifty idea! Brilliant way to say organized and colorful!


48 Dee March 3, 2011 at 7:32 am

Very cool. I’m also interested to know where you’ve posted them up.


49 shalini March 6, 2011 at 12:31 am

Wow, what a great idea. It came out really nice.


50 samia March 13, 2011 at 3:52 pm

this is a tremendous and beautiful idea.. would love to try my hand on it..


51 Heather {WhipperBerry} April 18, 2011 at 2:08 pm

Gabby my dear this is lovely!!



52 Amanda May 1, 2011 at 8:08 am

I’ve put together a round up of great wall art projects on Craft Gossip today and included your post. :) You can see it here

If you would like to share the Craft Gossip love and show your visitors you’ve been featured, you can grab a button here!


53 SewDanish September 7, 2011 at 6:21 pm

What a great idea! Love it! Thanks for this great tutorial.


54 hilke October 1, 2012 at 3:00 pm

This is a really nice one. Like my home is little we gonna change the size.
Thanks for charing!


55 Araya @ Wind and Willow Home February 4, 2013 at 4:55 pm

So simple, perfect and educational for the little ones. Doing this.


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