Kari McQuitty is an Amore educator and owner of the salon All About Nails, in Alberta, Canada, where she also offers training courses for nail techs. She noticed several of her students struggling with acrylic paint, which prompted her to experiment with other paint types, including traditional watercolor paint meant for paper canvases. She soon realized they make a great introductory nail art medium. “It’s easier, more forgiving, and can easily be removed,” McQuitty says. “It’s a great thing to master before learning to paint with acrylics.”

Here’s a basic watercolor nail art design McQuitty teaches her first-timers. With watercolors, it’s critical that the design is sealed properly, so make sure all art is at least a human hair’s width away from the edge of the nail. Let the design dry 100% before applying top gloss.

1. Prep, prime, and bond the nail. Apply Amore Ultima gel in Primary White where the flower will be painted and freeze cure. It’s important to map out where the flower will sit since it’s not opaque.

2. Apply Amore Ultima in Ice Palace and loose glitter to add bling. Freeze cure the design, sculpt the nail, and cure again. Next, file and buff the nail — watercolor paints glide well over buffed nails. 

3. Using a #4 cat tongue brush, create the outer part of the petals using a blue watercolor paint.

4. Clean the brush with water, removing all paint. With a damp brush, smudge and soften the petal outline. If you have too much watercolor paint on the nail, remove it by simply wiping over the paint with a damp, clean brush.

5. Apply the blue again where it was smudged. This gives the petals a fuller look. Apply a dark yellow and a light yellow to create the center of the flower. If the colors are dampened before application, they will bleed together, creating a blended ombre effect.

6. Using the cat tongue brush, create leaves the same way you added the yellow center. Once the paint is dry, use a #00 round brush, held upright with light pressure, to create ultra-thin lines and swirls. If your lines are choppy, you may need to add more water to your brush and paint.

7. Use the round brush to outline the petal and leaves, and add some dots to the center of the flower. Let the design dry completely. File the sides of the nails to make sure the design isn’t too close to the edges. Apply Amore Ultima Crystal Gloss to encase the design and cure for three minutes. Remove the dispersion layer and apply cuticle oil.

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