I enjoyed the Instagram folktale week so much I thought I’d join another illustration challenge. Visual storytelling has really captured my imagination.

‘Lets make art for fun’ was set by children’s book illustrator Claire Powell. One wacky prompt each Friday in January.

Cattywampus – 19th Century slang for an imaginary fierce wild animal.

I pictured victorian children running away for a terrifying hairy beast.

Bumbershoot – 1920’s word for an umbrella.

I imagined a stylish 20’s socialite taking her fashionable Boston Terrier out for a nighttime tinkle on the sidewalk.

Lollygagger – An 1860’s Americanism for spending time idly.

I imagined Victorian sisters leisurely chatting in the drawing room.

Mix and Match

My foliage paint colour journey continues with an exploration of phthalo blue mixed with yellow ochre.

I am finding this new path of investigation rather soothing and could quite happily play all evening. Often getting lost in the gentle swish of the brush and tranquil swirl of the water, forgetting the concept of time completely. Before I know it, the clock has struck twelve and I’m about to risk looking like a middle aged, over ripe pumpkin tomorrow. Time for bed! 

Phthalo Blue + Yellow Ochre

Lemon yellow and phthalo blue this time. I tried a different brush, thicker more rounded than the fine tipped water brush I’ve been using. Not sure I like it.

Phthalo blue + Lemon Yellow

And to finish a mix of medium yellow and phthalo blue. I used some metallic watercolour brush pens to add the detail. A recent gift from my sons. If only the tip were a little finer. 

Phthalo Blue + Medium Yellow

Seeing them side by side, my minds eye is already using the different shades for future illustrations.

Mixing Maddness

I was tempted to buy new paints today. The allure of something shiny and new pulled at my consciousness like a toddler tugging on its mother’s apron strings. Hang on, I said to myself. Get to know the paint you have first. Apprehension has held back my usual desire to experiment. Reaching for the pre-mixed tubes or blocks has become a matter of course of late. Time to try creating my own colours.

Foliage seemed a good subject for a colour investigation. The endless assortment of tints and shades to inspire is mind boggling.  

I added varying amounts of ultramarine blue to yellow ochre in this first study.

Ultramarine Blue + Yellow Ochre

For these leaves I used lemon yellow and ultramarine blue.

Ultramarine Blue + Lemon Yellow

Finishing off todays observations with a mix of medium yellow and yes you guessed it……ultramarine blue.

Ultramarine Blue + Medium Yellow

So many different colours with only four hues. I’m falling in love with watercolour. 

Layering Leaves

layered tropical leaves painted in watercolour

I tried a different style of painting today. No outlines! Instead painting inside the pencil lines, then rubbing them away once dry. Rather than adding tone and definition with the glazing technique, I experimented with overpainting. Arranging the leaves on top of one another, waiting for each to dry before painting the next. Resulting in a transparent layered effect, that previously I have only ever created digitally. 

Painting a larger surface area has highlighted my crude application. It is rather uneven and patchy. Perhaps I need to use a bigger brush. Or maybe the inconsistency of the results is what makes watercolours so unique and I just need to lighten up. 

Mask it Out

selection of cacti watercolour
Don’t Stand so Close to Me

I tried masking fluid for the first time today. Wow…. Love it! However, I do need to get a silicon brush. Ordinary brushes get clocked up with dry fluid, making the tip gloopy and uneven. So you lose some of the precision.

Doughnut Disturb

The one thing I quickly learnt about watercolour is, you need a plan. Colours must be chosen in advance, as the paint needs to be wet and ready to apply. The light direction has to be determined, so highlighted areas are not painted and will show in the finished artwork. And time needs to be set aside for the paint to dry between applications. When working digitally, colours and highlights are something I experiment with. And changes are instant. Sometimes I start a piece I have sketched with no idea of the colour palette. There are no do-overs with watercolour, what you put down, stays down. No ‘control z’ if you make a mistake. 

water colour chocolate and pink donuts

Trying to master chocolate, experimenting with different colour browns in today’s watercolour illustration. 

Chocolate with Everything

I probably eat chocolate four, five times a week. Wow! I hear the health conscious cry, that can not be good. And it is probably not. However, a study in the Journal of Nutrition found that regularly eating small amounts of chocolate could actually reduce the risks of heart disease. Well, if that’s not a good enough excuse I don’t know what is. Just need to take on board ‘small amounts’ and I’ll be fit as a fiddle. If only!

Here’s is my attempt at watercolour chocolate cakes.

selection of watercolour chocolate cake illustrations

I found it challenging to produce a smooth finish on the chocolate, both the matt and gloss versions. Although I am rather pleased with how cookie and brownie turned out. Almost good enough to eat.