diy watercolor cactus painting

My friends at Yoobi reached out a few months back about collaborating on some colorful content. Partnering with this fun school and craft supplies brand was an easy decision. For those unfamiliar with Yoobi, their motto is “You buy, Yoobi gives.”

That is, for every Yoobi item purchased, the company donates an item to a classroom that needs it. So far, Yoobi’s donations have impacted over 2 million kids! Nuts, rights?! You can learn more about Yoobi’s mission here.

With so many fun art supplies, it was tough to settle on a DIY, but when I saw these watercolor paints (which are only $1.99, btw!), I knew I had to give this trending art form a go. In no way would I call myself a painter, so I needed to choose a verrryyy simple subject. I’ve seen a number of beautiful cacti watercolors and wanted to try one out, so prickly pear cactus it was! This design was so fun to recreate, and only with a few supplies and an artistic technique or two.

After finishing this project, I can safely say I am a watercolor loving fool! I am now totally addicted and thoroughly plan on carving out time to experiment with other designs. That said, I think you’re really going to love this tutorial and I highly encourage you try it out! (FYI, all the supplies for this tutorial totaled less than $25, including shipping!)

To further encourage you to try this fun project, Yoobi is offering 15% off your order exclusively to TNTP readers with code NEONTEAPARTY. Awesome right?!

Alright, let’s get started!


Before getting started, I recommend doing a few warm up exercises. In prepping for this tutorial, I learned the first thing you should do is to make two swatches of all your watercolors: one super saturated (minimal water) and one watered down so that you can learn the range of your palette. You can also experiment with mixing colors to see what combos you can utilize. For this tutorial, I kept it super simple and stuck with green.

I also recommend playing with different brushes, strokes and shapes to get yourself feeling comfortable with watercolor painting, especially if it’s your first time or you haven’t done it in forever.

To get your paint palette started, use one of your brushes to put a small drop of water in each color, just enough to wet it but not so much that you water it down completely. (You can always add more water later!)

For our adorable prickly pear here, we are simply going to paint a whole bunch of paddles coming out of one another. No need to have a full design in mind — part of the fun is adding the paddles as you go.

To get a perfect paddle shape, using a pointy yellow Yoobi paintbrush, start by making a V shape with an open bottom, then curve each side up to the top, forming your paddle shape and finally meeting at the top center of the paddle. You can make the outline saturated (minimal water) as we’re going to ombre out the paint to give these paddle some depth.

Now grab your long, pointy-bristled green brush. Add a bit more water to your green paint and paint along the outline of your paddle, manipulating the water and paint to keep the edges darker and the inside almost white. Work your strokes in the direction of the shape, rather than back-and-forth strokes.

Tip: If your painting feels too watery, use your paper towel or rag to absorb excess water.

Once your paddle is filled in, you can still manipulate the ombre effect within the paddle by adding water to the parts you want to lighten and wiping your brush periodically to get rid of the excess paint.

Keep adding paddles until you’ve filled up your whole paper. And don’t worry about them looking perfect. Imperfections like smudges and water marks are part of the charm of watercolor painting!

Next, add fun neon pink flowers to give a pop of color to your prickly pear! You can paint them however you like. I started in the middle of each flower with 4-5 petals, then painted more petals on top to give the flowers a round, fluffy look.

Tip: The neon paint dries kind of thin with only one layer of paint. If you want your flowers to really pop, I suggest adding another layer or two.

Last, add some pricks by drawing delicate dots all over your paddles using your black fine tipped marker.

Let your creation dry, then display it in a fun frame!

I hope you all find this tutorial as easy and fun as I did! As I mentioned, I was a watercoloring newbie before putting together this DIY. Here are the super helpful resources I used to get started:

Painting with Watercolors for Beginners

A special thanks goes out to the awesome people at Yoobi for providing the supplies for this post! And don’t forget to use code NEONTEAPARTY for 15% off your Yoobi order! Offer expires 6/30/17.

peace, love & neon,

This post was written in collaboration with Yoobi. All ideas and opinions are my own. 🙂


  1. Naomi G on June 21, 2017 at 1:56 pm

    Love this one! So cute. 🙂

  2. Acacia on January 21, 2021 at 6:07 pm

    I love watercolour. So pretty!🎨😍

    • the neon tea party on January 25, 2021 at 1:07 pm

      Same here, Acacia! Thank you! -Marisa

Leave a Comment