Creativebug - Watercolor FAQs Part 2

You asked and Yao answered!

In this Part 2 FAQ interview with Creativebug (released today!), Yao continues answering a lot of frequently asked questions that she has received from her students!  She provides insight into her watercolor methodology, the types of tools she would recommend beginners to invest in, and shares some of her favorite painting supplies.  She talks about why she chooses certain art supplies over others (tube paint vs. paint blocks - where does one even begin?) and the pros and cons of textured watercolor paper.

Later on in the class, as Yao talks about the technical aspects of her process, students will learn the importance of reference photos, not only for subject matter, but for color composition as well.  The world is full of infinite colors, so she explains the importance of creating a basic color palette before beginning a new piece to prevent feeling overwhelmed. 

Not only are there lots of great technical tips about using watercolor, but she also shares her thoughts about where she finds her inspirations.  She talks about how she pulls certain aspects from an inspiration and brings her own spin on that idea.  This is something that she really encourages all of her students to try and do, once they have a good grasp on the technique skills. When you are able to pin point what it is that you are inspired by and can take creative license to reinterpret it with your own style, that is when your work becomes truly yours!

So there you have it, a quick sneak peek to the Yao's latest Creativebug class, "Watercolor FAQ's - Part 2"!  If you have yet to see Part 1, in which Yao gives insight into her creative process and how she developed her unique and beautiful style, be sure to check it out!

Lastly, for those who are interested in learning to paint with watercolor, be sure to check out Yao's collection of Creativebug classes (if you haven't done so already!), such as her "Beginning Watercolor" and "Intermediate Watercolor" series.  These tutorials give beginners a great foundation and start to try their hand at watercolor painting.

So, give these watch a listen and have a wonderful Wednesday!


This week at Yao Cheng Design, we are unveiling four new throw pillows, now available for purchase in our shop along with our other beloved textile designs.  We are beyond ecstatic that these beauts have been and continue to be so positively received by you all, so we (naturally!) designed more!  Featured in the past in both HGTV Magazine and the Today Show, we strive to create products that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing.

With various themes and color palettes, there is a pillow to complement any style.  Our Floral Ensemble throw pillow, for example, will make a room feel like spring, even during the cold winter months of January and February!  Also available as a gift-wrap, we couldn’t help but reimagine how the bright pink and yellow color scheme of the design could liven up a room.  Each of our designs also come with their own story of how they came to life.  The Blue and Yellow Herringbone pillow was inspired from an image Yao found of a yellow raft on the open sea.  She wanted to capture the intensity of the blue, icy bay, but abstracting it into a playful pattern.  

As always, we strive to design products that are both beautiful and functional, and these new designs are sure to give your home a splash of color and a double dose of comfort (inserts are not included, but we suggest 20” x 20” inserts to give the pillows a full, fluffy look and feel).  These designs were an absolute joy to work on – as are all of our products – and we are beyond excited to be able to share them with you! 

Have a great weekend, everyone!


Photography  //  Christa Kimble

Photography  //  Christa Kimble

Hello there!

I wanted to share a heart-to-heart post today about my experience (so far!) with motherhood...While I usually prefer to keep my personal life separate from work, I feel compelled to talk about this subject matter because it pertains to so many of us working creatives!

It has been 6 months since my husband and I welcomed our little guy into the world...and it's also been that long (plus a few extra weeks of being super pregnant!) since I've been working full-time at the studio.  That time away felt so long, but at the same time, so short (For those of you who are parents, you can relate to how contradictory, yet true, this is)!  I treasured those first few months with him and they were indescribably special.  I've always felt that it was important (it was a large part of why I wanted to work for myself) that I have a flexible schedule when it came time to start a family.  It's also something that I want to push for as a benefit to my employees, but that's a whole different subject for another day!  Anyway, it's a perk of running your own show and an opportunity that not a lot of people have with their jobs.  Therefore, I made sure I took as much time as I needed (without compromising my business) to be with him and I didn't regret a single minute of it.  Increasingly towards the end of those months, however, I was itching to get back to my other baby - my business - and be creative again.

I want to preface here that I'm only writing about my experience into motherhood.  There are so many ways to navigate these early years as a parent, and I respect all of our different methods for how we get there...But for me, that path didn't include staying home with my child full-time.  I admit, I did contemplate that option though.  It seems so ideal to be able to be there for every milestone, not miss a beat, and save on childcare costs (huge bonus!).  However, I also know the type of person that I am.  I knew eventually, I will need to feed my creative juices again and get back to this other livelihood of mine.  Painting has always been my way of expressing my thoughts to the world, and I have even more to say now! 

After 4 months of baby bliss, I started slowly coming back to work, adding a day or 2 at a time.  I have to add here, that this pace would not have been possible if I did not have a full-time employee who kept everything running at the studio!  Anyway, during the 2 months of transitioning back to a full-time schedule, I definitely struggled on many fronts, but I'm also glad to have gone through it. For one, because I wanted to take my time coming back, it was a constant guilt trip of how much time I am at work and how much time I was spending with him.  If there was a guidebook on how to best split parenting time, I wish I would have read it!  Should I have spent more time at work to generate more income?  Or should I have stayed home one extra day each week, because this time is so fleeting?  For another, I had some very tough questions to ask myself after this huge life change.  Did I still want to grow in the same way as before?  Shouldn't I keep this business super small to maximize flexibility for my family?  Will I be relevant still, after such a long time away?  Each day, as I drove into work, I questioned myself on these points and felt the true uncertainty of not knowing where all of this was going.  But each day, as I sat down at my desk to begin the day, all of those fears would dissipate because I realized that I still wanted all of the same goals as before when I see the kind of work we are making, and being relevant has nothing to do with time.  As long as I continue creating quality, meaningful work, people will notice.  Maybe adding "motherhood" to my list of titles has been a test to see how much I really love what I do.  There is no way anything can compete with how much I love my child, but this business comes in very closely behind.  I know it's going to be harder than before to do both, but I also know it's a must for me. 

I have also set aside some time during this transition to re-examine the backbones of my business.  I talk about this a lot during interviews or speaking events - how important it is to build a solid "foundation" on how you run your business, from the very beginning - and now is the time for us, while we ramp back up to full speed again with clientele projects and product releases!  Are there ways to streamline our production process?  How can our packaging be more clear, more pronounced?  And the most humbling of all questions - how can we strengthen our marketing to be more visible, intentional and creative?  You see, I've been incredibly fortunate in the last 4 years to not have had to put much time into marketing and still have a steady stream of projects coming in.  I don't take it for granted for a second, though.  It had to do with a lot of hard work and diversifying the marketplaces/clientele work so that they can market for us.  But now that I'm coming back to a business that has not been running at full speed for the last 6 months, it's once again necessary to go out and market on our own.  Coming face-to-face with these issues that were once swept under the rug has been scary.  I think this is because it has forced me to see the vulnerability of my success and how it doesn't just continue on its own and needs to be maintained.  

Photography  //  Christa Kimble

Photography  //  Christa Kimble

Now that I'm back full-time, getting my hands into being creative again has rejuvenated my drive to continue exploring new ideas!  I come to work each day more focused than before, because my time is even more valuable now.  I don't spend a lot of time being distracted anymore, although sometimes I yearn for that luxury!  Anyway, I'm also learning to be more diligent about prioritizing my projects and to delegate even more tasks.  In some ways, I'm starting over again.  Becoming a mom has really changed me, so it seems only natural that the way I approach my business would be different too!  I've never been away from painting for this long before, and now my brain is buzzing with so many new ideas!  I think my interests in the type of work that I create will be different too (One idea that I've been thinking about a lot lately is children's books!).  I'm looking forward to seeing what this year will have in store for us...I know now that this is really where I want to be, and it makes me a better parent to have a purpose outside of being his mom.  I get to come home each day knowing that I spent my day doing what I love.

I hope to continue talking about this subject along the way.  I know there's much more for me to learn in how to balance all of these responsibilities.  If any of you guys have any advice or comments on how to be a working momma, please do share!

Have a great weekend, everyone!



In addition to our online retail shop and design studio,  Yao also creates painted commissions for our customers & clients!  For those of you who are interested in a custom, original watercolor piece that perfectly encapsulates your style and color scheme, memories, feelings – everything and anything that makes you, well you! – this is a perfect fit.

Each of our commissioned paintings are hand-painted, signed, and dated by Yao, who works with every client from beginning to end.  She will work with you on everything from sizing to color schemes and will provide sketches along the way so that it's exactly as you have envisioned!

Below is a 30" x 40" landscape piece she created using watercolor with painted resist to capture the serenity of the client's favorite beach. 

A commissioned painting is also the perfect way to showcase a wedding bouquet or any other unique memory from that special day. We work with many brides on painted commissions and can even add Yao's calligraphy work to them. Whatever it is that you are envisioning, we will strive to make sure that you love the piece and it is something uniquely yours!

We usually ask our client's for at least 6 week lead time on most commissions, but this can vary depending on the subject matter! Our pricing begins at $350 for an 8" x 10" (although it can change based on the complexity of the piece).  We can work with you on any size up to 30" x 40"!  All of our original paintings come with an authenticity card and are shipped with insurance to ensure its safe arrival on your doorstep.  Feel free to get in touch with us for a custom quote or you can visit our commissions page for more information!

We look forward to working with you!