You followed along the first part of my tutorial so here it is the second part!

Paint on your pebbles!

We have a nice sketch now it is time to paint! Painting on pebbles is easy if you accept one thing: pebbles absorb water, and color, not like paper or canvas. Pebbles dry more slowly then paper, and it can be a good thing or a bad thing.

With watercolor and gouache if you are not patient enough you could risk smudging the colors too much. Colors will always move around a little bit on pebbles (they are not primed poor things so don’t blame them) but you can work on them to a satisfactory level.

this was done in gouache using a glittery copper gel pen and a gold gel pen to add sparkle. You can find it in my shop 

If, on the other hand, you are working with acrylic paint, this slower drying time is a good thing . I was able to achieve a smoother blend effect on my acrylic painted pebbles because colors are wetter longer so you can work on them a bit more as if they were oils.

When you are finished painting you can add details using gel pens or waterproof markers.

I have yet to try colored pencils to add details but I don’t see why it shouldn’t work.

Seal the pebbles!

Your pebbles are all nice and dry. If you want to make the painting last you have to seal it. My first pebbles were sealed with an emergerncy sealing agent: hairspray

If you are on vacation and you are in a small village and don’t want to hunt for art supplies, hairpsray is a good choice. The problem with hairspray is that, in time, it will slowly tint your colors yellow, but it is a really slooooow process. If you don’t plan on selling your pebbles you can live your whole life without seeing this happen.

If you want to have a more pro seal you can buy any sealing varnish: matte, clear, shiny, you name it. Don’t use varnish that are to be applied by brush as you risk dissolving the colors and creating a Picasso disaster. Focus on spray sealing

I am finding a good and cheaper alternative to fancy sealing spray: clear acrylic paint. You can find it in any hardware store and, at least here, can choose between matte finish and shiny finish.


Spray outside in the open air, as the aerosol is dangerous (if the spray bottle say it isn’t simply don’t trust the label 😀 ) 

When you add spray you will see the pebbles turn a little darker. It is not an issue for me, I simply cover the whole pebble to have a nice effect.

When spraying you will see that, if you didn’t use loads of paint, the brushstrokes become visible and that where you applied less paint the color becomes more transparent. Embrace the process and remember what you did. BTW, this is my mantra and it saved me from screaming and burning my studio several times.

The spray I use takes 24 hours to dry completely so I leave them out in the porch a whole day, then I sign them on the back side and do the spraying and the waiting again.

Are you planning on painting on some pebbles? If you are going to try let me know and if you are on Instagram you can tag me in your photos —> @valeriadraws  

Kisses and happy painting!





I have been painting sea pebbles for some time now and it is easier than I thought it would be. If you want to try but don’t know where to start, this is what I do, you can follow my steps or just use them as an inspiration to experiment on your own! So let’s start painting sea stones:

Choose your pebble.

I was able to collect, and still am, pebbles in Calabria, Italy by a marble rich coast. The pebbles I collected (and that some friends keep collecting and giving me) are smooth and rounded with some interesting white marble lines. They are already beautiful paperweights, if you ask me, but we want to up the game a notch. The best pebbles are those with a flatter side you can have them to rest upon. Other than this reccomendation you can choose a pebble as big as you like or as small as you like.

Clean your pebbles.

They are usually submerged or nearly submerged in salty water so the first thing to do is give them a nice rub to dissolve the salt and the sand particles that could have found a crevice where to rest. Soak them in tap water and don’t use soap (you simply don’t need it). Brush them with your hands or the first brush-like thing you can find. Toothbrushes are good.

I usually let them have a bath for a couple hours then fish them out of water, brush them with my hands to see if there is sand somewhere, wet them once more and then let them dry naturally. 


Let’s paint your pebble!

Now that the pebbles are dry it is time to paint! I don’t prime my pebbles, for the same reason I don’t usually prime my woodboard. If you want a smooth surface to paint go and get yourself a sheet of paper 🙂 

I experimented with three different mediums, four if sketching using pencils counts as a separate medium: acrylic paint, watercolor, gouache. Each medium is good to be used and I haven’t found this much difficulty in covering my pebbles.

Acrylic paint is the easiest because of its drying speed and coverage but gouache is as nice and even a quality watercolor set can give you nice effects.

Watercolors were the first I tried, when I first went to Calabria for the Summer holidays. I used a Windsor&Newton travel set. As I am a popsurreal figurative artist I mainly paint portrait so I need a flesh color. I mixed my fleshtone using white and Burnt Sienna.

And now you are screaming: White watercolor! No way.

Wait a bit.

As pebbles are not white you can’t take advantage of the surface and just add water to the color you want to use as fleshtone. So I overcame the problem creating a less transparent color, and white does just this in watercolor sets, which was at the same time lighter.

Using acrylic paint you have a nice coverage, just use the mix you usually use for fleshtone. In acrylic I like to experiment with different recipes so, if you want to mix your own fleshtone you can try: Burnt Sienna and white, or English Red with Yellow Ochre and a pinch of Ultramarine Blue to an abudant dose of white.

As I paint what I see my fleshtone recipes are for let’s say Caucasian flesh, but there are plenty of tutorial for darker skintones. So go ahead and experiment and let me know what you come up with!

Gouache is somewhat like acrylic and the fleshtones recipes are the same. If you are like me and have only a base set you can have a nice skintone by mixing an orange with Magenta and Yellow adding Ultramarine Blue and, you guessed it, a ton of white. The gouache set I have doesn’t have many colors so my fleshtones are not perfect but I am getting used to the final result.

Sketch on your pebble!

We are now ready to sketch. My Calabria pebbles are grey so sketching with a regular pencil would be a problem. I indeed sketched some pebbles using HB pencil but then I had to move the pebbles to make the marks shine to see them clearly. A color pencil is the best choice. You can use a regular pencli or a watercolor pencil: the first give you a more stable sketch, the latter blend as you paint and can add a nice color variation, again, experiment and decide what is the effect you prefer.

I don’t plan too much when I paint on pebbles as it is something I like to see as a love project and not part of my actual job, so I don’t care much about neutralyzing the possibile barrel distortion you could have when drawing on a rounded surface. If you find it difficult painting on the more rounded side of your pebbles try on the flatter side first.

painting on pebbles and new tictail shop

Hello everybody! I can’t believe it’s almost two years since my last post. But I want to make up for neglecting this poor blog of mine so stay with me. 

I decided to open a new shop on Tictail where you can find original paintings,embellished prints and unusualobjects like these painted pebbles. 

The pebbles come from Calabria, Trebisacce to be precise and I painted the first while I was on vacation there. I was sitting on the beach, which is not sandy at all but made of these rounded marble pebbles, and I had my sketchbook with me and a new box of Windsor and Newton watercolors. I was using one of the pebbles as a brush holder and, as I am really clumsy sometimes, the brush rolled over the pebble leaving a nice red line.

And that was when it hit me: Can I paint on these?? The answer is yes of course!

I wiped the pebble using a handkerchief and some water, waited for it to dry and started painting on it with my watercolors. You know what? Windsor and Newton performed so well on that first pebbles I made some more. I painted abstract shapes but then I wanted something more and I started painting my Dolls on the pebbles. You can see the results here and here .

I stole some pebbles when I had to sadly leave the warmth of Calabria but then forgot about the pebbles because, who is gonna care for a painted rock? But then Christmas came and I wanted to try again. This time I tryìied using my trusty acrylic, again without prepping the pebbles andletting it absorb the colors as it wishes. I am a hardcore fan of natural textures and I never prep woodboards when I paint, just saying. 

Those experiments ended up as presents obviously, but you can see them here, here and here. I kept only one for me, because she was the first. 

And now let’s get to today, sort of. I discovered a new medium: gouache… and it’s AWESOME! I am using some cheapish Primo gouache, an Italian brand but I thins they are fun to work with. So, I wanted to try these gouache and had other pebbles at home (freshly delivered from Calabria from the sweetest sweetheart ever) so I tried painting on them.

I followed the same steps: washed the pebbles, scrubbing them a bit to make sure there is no sand, let them dry and then sketched the main shapes and painted. This time I am not going to give them all away and you can see them in my brand new Tictail shop along with my Inktober illustrations and some embellished prints! 

Do you have some rounded pebbles around and want to try?

My advise is: go ahead and do it! Just wash the pebbles and let it dry. If you see the colors moving around and don’t like the effect of mixing you get just wait after the first layer. You can also embellish the painting with gel pens. Just remember to seal the painting after if you want to make it durable. I use clear acrylic spray varnish but if you can’t use it or need a n emergency sealing you can spray it with hairspray, just note that hairspray can give a yellow tint to colors over time and that it is not water resistant. I wipe my pebble simply using a soft
dry cloth.  

I am working on some new watercolors at the moment but I have also scheduled a new shop update for the end of December, when I will make available some special items based on my Guide Spirits series. 

#artinthebox in Nemi

You have until January 8 to see and buy one of the paintings I created for the “Art In The Box” group shop organized by Artinarte in the whimsical Palazzo Ruspoli, in Nemi, near Rome.

They are all on 30×30 cm canvasses and made using charcoal and acrylic colors. I made the charcoal sticks myself and they have a pleasant brownish tone. Are you interested in buying one, or more? Just mail me!

Summer 2016

Summer’s quickly coming to an end here and my paintings just came back home from their little tour in Marsica. La Marsica AAC association organized Contemporanea Ventisedici, a two-city group show in Celano and in Tagliacozzo this past summer.

The paintings which took part in this tour are: “Somiglianza”, Sudditanza” and “Accoglienza” from Le cabinet de curiosités naturelles series.

Contemporanea Ventisedici 2016 - Tagliacozzo

Contemporanea Ventisedici 2016 - Celano

And since I’m here writing I want to show you the two latest wedding commissions. I love it so much when people come to measking to crete a unique gift for a new family 🙂

Love Couple_red an drums_ Valeria Poropat

wedding commission Valeria Draws

I had to show them together simply because they are close friends and were enthusiast about these “matching” gifts.

China is coming home

Another exhibition is now over and What do we know about China is coming home. It spent a month in a place so full of magic and history in Nemi for Artinarte group show dedicated to Women and what they/we can do. I was in such good company ❤ and the gallery was an awesome place!

Easter is now over: I ate, and drank, and laughed and tried to absorb as much sun as I could while filling my tummy tummy with yummy stuff me, my Mum and my sister made. Now I am back home, and as I want to share something more and something new, here you are a new small digital-gouache painting. I have this fascinationa for kitchenware and, wandering through my Pinterest feed I was suggested this set of spoons. They were way too cute, too irregular and too heartwarming not to paint them. I really hope Heather doesn’t mind if I used some of her amazing products as my model.

cucchiaini_gouache_Painter_Valeria Draws_Valeria Poropat_Etsy

I have also received a really exciting mail from Adina, the Canadian writer I am working with on her children book. I sent her the first spread with a possible color scheme and style, she answered me telling me how thrilled she was and that I nailed, and went beyond, what she was imagining. Obviously I can’t still show you anything but I will soon, promise.

And, since March is coming to an end, here you are the April desktop calendar, don’t be a fool and download it!


A Klimt-esque portrait and an exhibition in the heart of Rome

It’s been some months now: people appreciate my style, my happy and childlike portraits and ask me to paint portraits to give as presents. It’s always such a honor to be involved in something so intimate as a gift and I really enjoy the process. This time I’m here to show you a small (dimension-wise) commission for a birthday present.

I was given a couple photos of the person and started playing around with a variety of ideas. Then, I kind of realized the person reminded me of Klimt’s images and I created a colorful and lushious background for her (‘cuz she’s a she 🙂 ). I was asked to paint something small, because, you know, money does not grow on trees but my idea would look horrible. Client was asked if I could use something bigger, at no additional cost obviously, and the result was exactly what I wanted and, I was told, was a delightful surprise.

klimt and me Valeria Poropat commissioned birthday present

Another mission accomplished! Proudproud me.

Talking about the exhibition: I have this series made of five paintings, exploring the relationship between Man and Nature and never got myself around to finish the last painting in the series. But the other paintings are finished and look good! (modest, uh?) so I put one of them on display in an exhibition in Rome, giving it a good company, as you can see from the picture down here.

Selezione Triennale Il Trittico Arte Contemporanea Spazio Macsi Valeria Poropat Roma.jpg

This exhibition is now over but Cosa Sappiamo Della Cina will be in Nemi in March: let’s say I want to push things a little and spread the word about my work.

Oh! One last note, I received a super sweet e-mail from a writer asking me if I was interested in illustrating her children rhyming book and I agreed immediately. We’re in an early stage but I really can’t wait to show you something!

2015 Christmas commissions and a new Year’s gift for you!

This year I was commissioned 4 portraits as Christmas gifts. I was asked to paint an Italian Language teacher, a Math teacher and two families, and it was, as always, a really funny and really interesting experience.

For the teachers I used 12x17cm wood panels and went for a vintage feeling inspired by old photographs and rounded frames like those you see in Western movies with the young teacher wearing a brown skirt and a white blouse and with her hair neatly combed around her face.

The family portraits, both on 50×50 cm wood panels, were a lot easier and a lot more “contemporary” but I was asked to add a fake frame along the border and I have to admit it really gives the painting a more polished look. But feel free to judge for yourselves!

And now, as I promised, a little gift for your desktop: a free downloadable desktop January calendar for 2016! I used one of the patterns I created during my failed attempt at following the #100dayproject. The file is 1366×768 pixels.

free january 2016 desktop calendar

I am exploring my more illustrative self(and honing my digital skills along the way) and trying to develop a professional portfolio. I am planning on painting illustrations inspired by the upcoming issues of TaprootMagazine. I am going backward and started with the theme they will use on the winter 2016/2017 issue. The theme is “SHARE” and this is my take:

taprootmagazine share illustration valeria poropat valeria draws

Christmas freebie : Christmas inspired paper

Christmas paper freebie Valeria Draws Valeria Poropat

My sister is a cook, specialized in cakes and cake design, and I was thinking about something sweet to give you as a little pre-Christmas gift. What do children, cooks and food lovers have in common? They love writing, either to Santa or to themselves to preserve dear recipes. Do you have a recipe you do every Christmas? Is there something you or your children would love to ask Santa? Why not using a Christmas inspired paper!

And here you are 5 different designs of Christmas inspired paper ready to be printed at home on A4 size sheets. You can print as many as you like and choose the design you like, every design is on an individual pdf file so no paper wasted.

The designs you can use are: reindeer cookie and panettone paper, red gingham ribbon paper, frosty terrarium paper, elves’ hats paper, and wreath paper. These design, if you like them, are also available in my shop as Christmas cards sets.

To download the freebie please click on the cookie and follow the link!

PS: Did I mention there is a COUPON CODE as a little bonus in the zip file? 😉 Just insert the big red word you see during checkout and et voilà!

biscotto rennaDo you have a favourite Christmas recipe? Something you have to eat/drink because “it’s not Christmas without…”? I’d love to hear from you, so go on and share!

Mine are gingerbread men, I love making them with lots of cinnamon and i love how my whole house smells once they’re out of the oven.