Skull-A-Day 5.0 - Tutorial - Dia de la Abby: #70 Skull Mail

Recently, Wenchkin and I decided to trade mail art. She made me this piece, so this is my art for her. It will be mailed off today.

I made this mixed media piece using water color paints, water color pencil, salt, ink, flower images from a gardening magazine, and thread, on water color paper. I wanted to do something reminiscent of the sugar skull and flower styles in past pieces, but with layers of patterns, mediums, and texture.

This tutorial will just cover the techniques I used to create this.

Prepping the Design
I cut a rectangle of water color paper, and cut out large images of flowers from a gardening magazine. I arranged the paper flowers on the water color paper. I lightly sketched out the edges of the pink flower, so I knew where they would overlap the skull design. I removed the paper flower arrangement. I lightly sketched out a skull design.

Watercolor and Salt Background
I used solid water color paint in Black, water, and a flat wide brush to paint the background. While the paint was still wet, I sprinkled table salt on the painted areas. This displaces the paint and gives the background and uneven coloring. After the paint had dried, I rubbed off the salt. With green solid water color paint, water, and the same brush (cleaned) I painted back over the black. I sprinkled more table salt on this wet paint. After the paint had dried, I brushed off the salt again.

Applying the Paper Flowers
I used a large glue stick to apply the flowers, following the guidelines and layout I had created when prepping the design. However, the paper became unglued after drying. This is probably because the smooth glossy magazine paper was having trouble adhering to the rougher water color paper. I decided that I could use a threaded needle to sew the papers together. Before starting the sewing, I used a fine tip drawing pen to draw a design on the flowers. After the ink dried, I used a large headed straight pin (the kind with the colorful ball heads) to poke holes through the top side of the paper, following the design and petal shapes. This makes sewing easier and puts less strain on your fingers while sewing through the paper. Using black thread and a needle, I sewed the papers together following the straight pin punched holes. I punched additional holes and sewed where I thought more reinforcement was needed, as I went along with securing the papers.

Making the Skull and Details - Layer 1
For the skull, with light brown and darker brown solid water color paint, water, and a smaller brush, I base coated and shaded the skull. With dark green solid water color paint, water, and a small brush, I painted a simplified large leaf on the left beside the skull. After that dried I used bright green solid water color paint, water, and a small brush to paint vine like swirls.

Making the Skull and Details - Layer 2
After the paint dried, I used the fine tipped drawing pen to draw decorative details on the skull and along the vines.

Making the Skull and Details - Layer 3
Using various colors of water color pencils, I colored in some of the details.


  1. You are talented, and I enjoy your work. I might try to do some of your projects, but I'm not artistic. Thank you for your posts!!

    1. It's ok if your not artistic. Art is about trying new things and playing. As long as you are enjoy making something, it will show in your artwork. The more you play (aka practice) with something the better you will get. Some of my best creations are happy accidents.


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