Watercolor Denver Broncos Birthday Card- Deadline is today!

LAST NIGHT was the night before my son’s 17th birthday. He doesn’t ask for much for his birthday. But there was one thing he was expecting…..a watercolor birthday card from me. Of course he had seen some of the Valentine’s Day, Birthday, Anniversary cards that I started to make the past couple of months. I never thought he would want a watercolor card for himself. 


So my mind racing on what kind of birthday card should I paint for a 17 year old boy.

Do I do the typical birthday cake and balloons, how about a cupcake with some candles?

As my mind is pondering the items I know how to watercolor, he already had an idea. My son is a proud Denver Broncos fan and his favorite player is Phillip Lindsay. 

What!? He wants me to watercolor Phillip Lindsay!!!

Ok, let’s get this straight. I am a floral, desserts, bird watercolor artist. I have just in the past couple of weeks started to learn how to draw figures with the very help book by Chris Hart, ”Figure It Out! The Beginner’s Guide To Drawing People”. I have very little experience drawing people let alone watercoloring them! Now he wants me to draw and watercolor a football player and would like to have a birthday theme. He even texts me the image he would like to have on his card.


refer to caption
Photo by Jeffrey Beall and copied from Wikipedia.


Oh s**t!

What is a Mother to do! I don’t want to disappoint him and the artist in me is thinking that this test does look intriguing to me. 


So this is where fear of failure comes in. I don’t want to disappoint my son and I don’t want to find out that all the art classes, have gone to waste. But the show must go on and I have 8 hours before our birthday celebration so here goes nothing.

FEBRUARY 18, 2020: TIME – 9AM

With my Canson Sketch book I begin the task of drawing Phillip Lindsay.  With the Royal Graphite Pencil HB, I start with this head and work down. After 20 minutes and a few erasing moments, I was able to work out a sketch of him.

Sketch that took 20 minutes.

Now all I have to do is transfer my sketch onto Strathmore Mixed Media Cards. Luckily, I have a light board and was able to trace my sketch with a 5H Graphite Pencil easily.


At this point, I am taking a break because from experience if I don’t take breaks, I will begin to rush my process and make a mistake. 

After a year of intense studies of watercolor, I decided to approach Phillip Lindsay with lights and darks. Forget that it’s a person, being on the lightest layer and building the layers slowly. With the help of Emma Block’s (The Joy Of Watercolor 40 Happy Lessons From Painting The World Around You), I was able to mix the right skin tone with her lesson on painting people. 

The color mix of White, Burnt Sienna and Burnt Umber from my Sennelier Watercolor, I was able to come up with Lindsay’s skin color.  Using my number 4 Silver Black Velvet brush, I slowly worked on building the layers. One of my watercolor teacher’s always said to not brush the color, do subtle dropping of color down. Give a hint here and hint there with the lights and darks of the paint.

Slowly working on the layers to build the muscle on the arms.

For his hair, I used a Creative Mark number 8FX effect brush which was so much fun to use. I haven’t had a chance to really use this brush and it was the perfect brush for his hair. 

Before I get much farther, I use Winsor and Newton Art Masking Fluid to block out Linsday’s Jersey number and let that dry. I continue to build up the shadows on his face and hair while that’s drying.  


As I work slowly on the watercolor and giving my layers time to dry, I am getting more excited by the minute as this card is coming into its own.  While Lindsay is drying, I use this time to work on the gift bag and birthday cake. I can feel my excitement building. The main attraction is Lindsay so I will excuse my messy layered chocolate cake. I do have to figure out how I am going to add a 1 and a 7 to the cake. My options are macron pen, Indian ink, watercolor.

The masking fluid on the numbers, waiting for the Jersey to dry.

I will continue to build the layers on his uniform until I am happy with it. As a watercolor artist, and I am still a beginner, knowing when to stop is a tricky thing for me.


I finally decided to go with the Macron .005 pen for the lettering and it worked out well! Wow, it is 1pm and after 4 hours, I have completed the birthday card. To my surprise, it really looks like a person, but most importantly it’s a football player carrying a birthday cake and gift bag for my son. I hope he likes the card!

He does!

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