Words and Pictures

I took a painting Skillshare class over the weekend. Needed a break from the screen. – Illustrated Words & Monograms: Paint and Print Techniques (for Wall Art and Greetings Cards), by Illustrator Claire Picard.

Using a variety of methods, the brief was to illustrate words and letters with paint and liquid mask practises.

In the first task I used liquid mask to block out the word “j’adore”, then painted a mixed watercolour wash over the top. Adding hand painted hearts once the wash was dry. Finishing off with a small splatter of paint made with a toothbrush.

Filling the page with colour was a lot of fun. Although I did struggle with what to layer on top of the background and didn’t really take any risks. On my next attempt, I will experiment more. I lack somewhat in confidence when it comes to watercolour washes and was so pleased with how this turned out, I didn’t want to ruin it by overpainting.

I need to get over my fear of florals, so decided to use this assignment as practice. I resisted the temptation to view flower photo references and started by just painting flower shapes. Then I added detail with a black Micron fine liner.  

I wasn’t as happy with the results of this piece. I didn’t spend enough time thinking about what flower shapes would work well inside the letters or how they should be placed. It is very rudimental, to say the least. I will try again with just one big letter. Think I tried to run before I could walk with painting a whole word. The curse of being dyslexic…. my brain runs away with an idea that my physical self has no experience with and can’t keep up. 

Feel the fear and do it anyway….. Is how I felt doing this class project. Abstract, although a style I like, is something I’ve never tried before and I usually avoid florals. Especially loose expressive designs. I’ve kept my distance from such designs on account of not knowing where to start.

Claire’s class was the perfect introduction. And although my results are a little haphazard and very rough, (don’t think I’ve ever drawn so many flowers on one page), I’m totally inspired.

Hearts Alight

I often design licensed artwork for clients on a work for hire basis. Contributing to a variety of collective projects, creating surface prints and patterns for an assortment of different products and apparel. However recently I have been pondering on the idea of creating my own print collections.

Using Adobe Illustrator I rendered my watercolour sacred hearts into vectors and created this mini collection. With a valentine themed greeting card as the hero design and three supporting repeat patterns. 

‘Hearts Alight’ Collection

Flaming Hearts

The Sacred heart is a symbol of devotion in Roman Catholic religion, representing the divine love of Jesus for mankind. It symbology is very popular in Mexico.  Artisans craft ornate trinkets from wood and metal, decorating them in colourful folk art and religious iconography. 

Inspired by their bright and bold colours, my interpretation of these delightful little treasures is a reminder to always follow my own heart. 

Floral Fever

Watercolours…forgive me, it’s been 3 weeks since my last session. Actually finding the time to execute a daily art practice of traditional mediums is not as simple as I first imagined. Partly because once I start, I don’t want to stop. 

Yesterday’s intention of painting for only one hour, quickly morphed into the whole day. Chores were neglected, work postponed and the world outside my studio was completely disregarded.

Inspired by a friend’s beautiful country garden, which I visited at the weekend for an engagement celebration, I thought I would try florals. Not a subject I would usually choose, in fact I have kind of avoided drawing flowers. Not entirely sure why, considering how much pleasure I derived from yesterday’s undertakings. 

I will have to suffer the consequences of such self indulgence today of corse, but it was worth it. I feel strangely refreshed and energised, ready for whatever the day entails. 

Purple Passion

The next logical step in my watercolour analysis was to mix red with blue. Starting with crimson red.

Now…. I of course knew mixing red with blue produced purple, but I was surprised at how many different tints and shades were possible. I started to see the colour in a whole new light. 

Although purple has regal and spiritual connotations in our society and its history, it is a colour I have always associated with old age. Growing up in the 70s and 80s, purple rinse hair was popular with the older generation. Hospitals, doctors surgeries and care homes were painted lilac. And lavender scented products were a favourite gift to grandparents. 

The almost fossilised purple and white VW camper van that sat in the drive of my fathers house didn’t do much to elevate my impressions of this interesting hue either. That ridiculously old vehicle broke down more than it ran and didn’t go above 50 miles an hour. 

Today I am seeing purple as if for the first time, with a fresh new perspective. 

Crimson and ultramarine blue
Crimson red and phthalo blue
Crimson red and french ultramarine blue
Crimson red and cerulean blue

Put on Red Shoes and Dance the Blues

The colour red has quite a history, dating as far back as neolithic times. The prehistoric cave paintings at Lascaux, southwestern France, are full of it. The Aztec’s of Mexico were the first to produce vibrant red fabric dye. The Romans associated it with courage and adorned their gladiators in it. Charles the Great, the medieval emperor of Western Europe in the Middle Ages, painted his palace red as a visible symbol of his authority. And ancient Chinese philosophers believed it could elevate confidence, vivacity and luck. 

I wanted to compare the three watercolour reds I have. First up was vermilion red.

Vermilion red
Crimson red
Brilliant red

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. 

Cup Cake Anyone?

cupcake watercolour illustrations

The local gym my mother attends regularly holds fund raising events, to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Society. This week there was a homemade cake stall. Imagine my delight when she turned up with a plateful. Seemed rude not to illustrate them. After all, confectionary has been a bit of a running theme for me lately. I could not waste the opportunity to draw from life instead of reference.

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.