Pick Your Poison

Dengue Fever Virus (x 30,195) & Influenza A Virus (x 31,710)

Virus means poison in Latin, and is responsible for much misery this time of year. If you know someone who’s bedridden with Influenza or Dengue Fever, why not send them a get well card with your very own rendering of the virus? The lovely muted colours of your watercolour painting, along with your somewhat twisted sense of humour, will surely bring a smile to your sickly friend’s face while they continue on with their violent shivering fits and severe muscle aches. Naturally, you’ll want to mail your card to avoid any of these nasty contagions. All kidding aside, this was a really fun subject to paint because when magnified a few thousand times, viruses can be quite beautiful.


  • watercolour paints
  • mixing palette
  • natural hair brushes-#4 or #6 round
  • watercolour paper
  • paper towels
  • small sponge for creating texture
  • pencil
  • ruler
  • photo frame cards


1. Begin by purchasing some photo frame cards. The way they frame your painting makes it looks so professional, it’s worth the expense. They can be found in art supply stores and stationary shops. Determine the size of the card you will be inserting into the frame. Measure and draw this size out on watercolour paper using a pencil and ruler. This is where you’ll be doing the painting.

2. Have a look here at some images of  Viruses, or do your own search on the internet. Choose one that appeals to you and paint it free hand using watercolour paints. Since these paints are transparent, I don’t recommend drawing in pencil first because it will show through. If you are working with older children, student-quality watercolour paints will be perfect. I would recommend an inexpensive half pan which will provide a good number of colours and will last a long time. If working with very young children, go for something simple and inexpensive like a Jovi Watercolour Set. But do spring for watercolour paper to ensure a good experience.

3. For this project, begin by painting the detailed areas first, followed by the background. Moisten your paints with water and mix the colours you require in a section of your palette. Then load the brush with the colour, and applying it directly to the paper. This is referred to as a wet-on-dry technique because the paper is not wet prior to adding paint, and will allow for more control when painting specified shapes like the viruses, preventing them from bleeding outside specified boundaries. Once dry, you can add the background colours by carefully working your way around the shapes. If you find sections drying before you finish them up, add a bit of water with a brush to soften the richly pigmented bands of colour that will form. Most of the virus images have quite a lot of texture, so adding colour on top, using a small sponge will help you create a similar look. Remember to change your water often so you don’t dirty your paints.

Unlike gouache, acrylics and oil paints, mistakes with watercolours are difficult to cover up. If this does happen, add some water with a clean brush on top of the colour in question, and blot the area using a paper towel. This will lighten the area, although it won’t completely remove the paint.

For more detailed information, you’ll find many wonderful sites on the internet which explain watercolour painting techniques, types of brushes and paper to use.

4. Once your painting has dried, cut it out along the pencil lines you made earlier, and insert it into the photo card. Be sure to write the type of virus on the front or back or your card.


Leave a comment

Filed under cards, painting

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s