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31-Day Painting Challenge: National Watercolor Month

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31-Day Painting Challenge: National Watercolor Month


“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist as we grow up.”
—   Pablo Picasso

The dog days of summer are officially here, and we’re feeling inspired to get creative!

Since July is National Watercolor Month, we thought there was no better time to invite anyone with a passion for art to take a moment to be creative each day for a month and try watercolor painting.

The challenge is simple: we want watercolor artists everywhere to create one painting a day for all 31 days in July. The challenge is for everyone — for both amateur and experienced painters and for children, teens, and adults.

To stimulate your creativity, we’ve pulled together a month’s worth of inspirational quotes, beautiful paintings, and fun creative prompts for each day in July, which will be posted daily on Instagram. 

How it works:

Use the daily prompts to spark your creativity. Take a photo of your work every day for 31 days and upload it to Instagram. Tag your photos with #FireflyWatercolorChallenge. It’s that simple.

All you have to do is show up with some painting supplies and your creative spirit. Good luck!



Day 1: Show Us Your Palette
It’s Day 1 of the #FireflyWatercolorChallenge & we want you to show us the tools you’ll be using for the challenge. Snap a photo or paint a still life of your kit. 


Day 2: Favorite Colors
What are your favorite colors to use in your work? Paint a color wheel using all your favorite shades.


Day 3: Start Simple
In the wise words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Every artist was first an amateur.” Emulate 5-Minute Watercolor author Samantha Nielsen and start simple with a sketch of a house plant or other household item.


Day 4: Stained Glass
Canadian painter Christopher Pratt is known for his precise, careful lines. Follow his example and try your hand at a simple stained glass window.


Day 5: #TBT Emily Carr
She’s been called “Canada’s Van Gogh” and “Canada’s answer to Frida Kahlo”, but Emily Carr has a unique talent of her own for drawing out the intricate details of a landscape. Try your hand at her Wood Interior this #ThrowbackThursday.


Day 6: Paint by Number
It can be tricky to find inspiration on a daily basis. Sketch a simple still life or use a pre-drawn image from a coloring book and fill it in with paint. Be sure to stay inside the lines!


Day 7: Spattering
Has there ever been a painting method that looks as fun as spattering? Give it a go, and create your own fun and colorful landscape.


Day 8: 5-Min Monochrome
Let Peter Clapham Sheppard’s sketches of New York City chorus girls inspire your own monochromatic painting. Take five minutes — and just one or two colours — to sketch your own fashionable ladies.


Day 9: Shapes & Colors
Creating an impression is all about the shapes you use. With a few circles and some horizontal and vertical lines, you can create a stunning beach scene.


Day 10: Half an Hour
“The good watercolors take a lifetime — plus a half an hour.” Landscape and abstract painter Toni Onley knew that watercolor was a tricky medium. Take inspiration from his words and paint whatever you like for half an hour.


Day 11: Leaves
How you ever noticed that each leaf on a tree has its own unique shape and pattern? Get outside and paint some leaves.


Day 12: #TBT A.J. Casson
A.J. Casson was one of the few members of the Group of Seven who painted in watercolor. His Old Lime Kilns are this week’s #ThrowbackThursday. Paint your own version and share it with us.


Day 13: Take Flight
Sometimes you just need to change your perspective to find inspiration. Look to the skies today and paint an airplane or bird — whichever crosses your path first.


Day 14: Summer Sky
The wet on wet technique is perfect for capturing the magnificent colours of a summer sunset. Bonus points if you can capture a beachscape like David Webb's in Painting in Watercolor.


Day 15: It’s a Sign
They might have a bad reputation for blocking out the scenery, but signs can also be a great source of inspiration. Get up close and recreate a colorful sign.


Day 16: Paint Night
You’re halfway through the challenge! Why not celebrate with friends by attending a Paint Nite or hosting your own at home.


Day 17: Rainy Day
Sometimes the rain is just as inspiring as the sunshine. Follow John Lovett’s lead and paint a rainy, abstract landscape scene.


Day 18: Study in Green
The human eye can distinguish hundreds, if not thousands, of shades of green. Test your perception and paint a green landscape using as many types of green as you can.


Day 19: #TBT Christopher Pratt
Get a bit gothic this #ThrowbackThursday and recreate Christopher Pratt’s German Expressionist-leaning work Battery Road. Show us your best shadowy figures and moody skies.


Day 20: Violet
“I have finally discovered the color of the atmosphere. It is violet.” — Claude Monet. No shade of violet is off limits today! Paint something purple.


Day 21: Light to Dark
Want to master the technique of painting from light to dark? Try your hand at the peacock exercise from 5-Minute Watercolor.


Day 22: Flowers
Nothing says summer like fresh flowers. Treat yourself to a bouquet and then use them as inspiration for today’s painting.


Day 23: In the Shadows
There is beauty in light and darkness. Find an interesting shadow and bring it to life in watercolor.


Day 24: Make a Postcard
Share your progress with a friend! Paint them a postcard of a place you’ve visited and send it to them.


Day 25: Shells
No summer is complete without a trip to the beach. Head to the seaside to collect some shells and then paint your findings.


Day 26: #TBT Franklin Carmichael
Franklin Carmichael was famous for his watercolors. Let his work inspire a summery composition.


Day 27: Pop Art
Andy Warhol has nothing on you. Use the brightest colors in your palette to create a punchy, powerful, vibrant landscape.


Day 28: Paper Collage
Branch out today and create a collage, à la Brenda Swenson. Tear an interesting paragraph from the newspaper, recycle an old page from your journal, or upcycle some funky old wrapping paper. Incorporate it into today’s painting.


Day 29: Travel Diary
Take inspiration from a favorite place you’ve travelled or somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit. Recreate it on paper.


Day 30: Commission
Ask a friend or family member for a recommendation on what to paint today. Create them a one-of-a-kind commission, made with love.


Day 31: You Did It!
“Watercolor: you can do it!” — Tony Crouch. Congratulations! You’ve done it! Our 31-day watercolor challenge is complete, and you’ve proven your creative skill and dedication to your craft. Let us know what you plan to paint next.


Get the books:

 Painting in Watercolor: The Indispensable Guide

 5-Minute Watercolor (COMING SOON)

 Emily Carr: An Introduction to her Life and Art

 Christopher Pratt: Six Decades

 The Group of Seven and Tom Thomson

 Peter Clapham Sheppard (COMING SOON)


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