Graduating To “Official” Watercolours

illustrations

Taking what watercolour pencils taught me (previous post) not only made me more comfortable but gave me the trial and error I needed without as much frustration to go back to using official watercolour paints.

The first time I used watercolour paints (excluding those sets you get when your a kid) was in university for an illustration course, where we were assigned 1 landscape watercolour project – it felt like the hardest project I have ever had to do – landscapes are a bit challenging on their own, but throwing watercolours into the mix made it exponentially more difficult. My professor was a bit surprised as I really enjoyed doing washes with ink, acrylic and gouache but found watercolours a completely different beast to tame! So after all the practice with the watercolour pencils I have decided to “graduate” myself to using “official” watercolour paints and the first piece done using the medium in almost 5 years!

The subject chosen for my first “official” watercolour illustration/painting was inspired by a blogger/photographer I follow on Instagram: @bumblebria (check her out!)

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The lighting, composition and colours of this lemon lavender loaf caught my eye, encouraging me to recreate a version in “official” watercolours. I took a screenshot for reference, and to note the photographer’s handle so I could tag them when posting my WIP (work in progress) and final outcome online.

I started with a light pencil outline, using a mechanical pencil and Fabriano Studio Watercolour Paper.

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The sketch actually sat in my sketchbook for a little while, I decided to watch a couple watercolour tutorials online for different techniques and tricks before painting; really enjoying the image I did not want to mess this piece up, even though it is more for practice to grow my skillset; that said, I am a perfectionist and am trying to embrace the imperfections of art as it makes things more organic and interesting…not to mention a lot less stressful and more fun!

A couple of days before starting he painting process of this piece, my boyfriend actually bought me some new watercolours (not knowing I have a little stash as he has never seen me use “official” watercolours before lol) and some water-brushes for us to try out. I bought a water-brush a couples years back but was not a hundred percent sure how to use it and was afraid to wreck it; a silly thought as this is what they are made for, but again the perfectionist and fear of messing up took over so I never actually used it (more to come on this topic in a later post). These water brushes are a but of a game changer!

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I was excited to try “official” watercolours again already and the new brushes made me even more enthusiastic to “graduate” myself to the next level of watercolours lol

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The level of control with the water-brush made my experience more relaxing and fun – I was not worried about using too much water or accidentally dripping water or pigment somewhere else on the page when filling the brush with more paint. I would highly recommend getting one of these and trying them out, they are pretty inexpensive (depending on where you go).

I thought I was done the piece when I recorded this video removing the tape, but something just wasn’t right and I HATED the dark background – I wanted it to feel more like a marble finish but was not able to create the perfect cream colours, so I tried to use some blue tones – clearly I had a brain fart – there is already blue in the cloth that the background then blended them together; so in a dire attempt to fix the background, I attempted to make it look more like the cracked concrete in the original photo…I was not happy with this and even debated on making a new background and just cutting the old one out and pasting a new one in.

Looking at the piece a couple days later, it began to grow on me, but something still was missing. Taking a black studio gel pen, I outlined the edge of the cloth that meets the background – looked like I was onto something – then went over this with some black watercolour to make a shadow that created more contrast. Later, I used the same gel pen to add some subtle outlines to other areas to really pull it all together as a finished piece.

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Not going to lie, I am still not 100% happy with the final outcome but am glad it turned out much better than expected using “official” watercolours. I am trying to not be so hard on myself and embracing imperfections, especially on pieces like this where my intention is to better learn the medium and just have fun experimenting.

Please let me know what you think and about your watercolour experiences/preferences.

Don’t forget to follow my on Instagram and/or Twitter for live updates.

Thanks for reading 🙂

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Happy 20th B-Day Big Little Brother!

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My big little brother turned 20 January 23rd…so crazy!!

He is a Halo MASTER!!  – more about this in next weeks post about his birthday present, you probably saw on my social media if you follow me on instagram, twitter, facebook or tumblr lol

Here is his Halo 20 Birthday cake!

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The recipe for this is similar to the one I did for my newphew’s 7th Birthday Take Typography Out Of the Box & Play A While except I used a chocolate pudding instead of vanilla or oreo; again using oreo cookie crumbs for the top decoration.
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Last year I made him a chocolate mindcraft cake, which was a lot of fun, one of the first cakes I really experimented with that was not for a school project lol a couple of years ago we made a cookbook and had to make the recipe & photograph the outcome, so I had some fun with this making my Red Velvet Raven Cake.

Thank you for reading 🙂

Hayden's 7th Birthday Cake

Take Typography Out Of The Box & Play A While

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There are many different ways you can exercise those mad typography skills away from the computer, one that is enjoyable and delicious is baking. Make your tasty creations more personal and unique with hand crafted messages on cake, brownies, muffins/cupcakes, cookies, pies crusts and more!

For this blog I decided to feature how I broke out my typography skills with baking. I was inspired by the ingredients of this particular cake and thought to myself:

“why write on a cake with icing when you can try something new?!”

The Influence:

This month my nephew, Hayden, turned 7 years old and wanted me to make him an ice cream cake for his birthday; for the past year his motto has been “Cake Is MY LIFE!” with his amount of enthusiasm towards cake I was more than happy to oblige and made him a lactose free Oreo ice cream/pudding cake.

It was the main ingredient of the crust that inspired me to be a little more creative and try a stencil instead of icing, that ingredient was Oreo Cookie Crumbs.

The Process:

1. Take a piece of card stock, it is thick enough to hold the stencil’s shape, and cut it to fit the surface of cake.

2. Sketch or trace your message into the card stock. I used a slab serif “H” for Hayden to make the letter a bit heavier without adding too much weight to the stem or crossbar, allowing me to have some wiggle room for a stylized “7” for his age.

3. Cut out your letters; I used an x-acto knife, self-healing cutting mat and ruler. Scissors will not do as you DO NOT want to BEND your stencil or it may not be flat enough on the surface to work effectively.

4. Place your stencil onto the surface and press down on the lifted edges so the cookie crumbles, cocoa power, confectioner sugar or whatever you are using to heavily sprinkle over the stencil does not leak or roll under the edges, keeping your typographic play crisp and clean.

5. Remove the stencil, be sure to keep it as straight as possible while lifting all the edges up as evenly as possible to prevent any spillage of the excess ingredients on to the cake’s surface.

The great thing with stencil work is that you can choose if you want to use the negative or positive version; for instance, I chose to use the positive space as the letters but could easily of used the negative. This can be achieved by taking the cut out letters form the stencil, placing them on the cake and heavily sprinkling the powder or crumbs over top and carefully removing the paper cut outs; though I felt in this case there was more contrast by using the positive space.

This is a fun, fresh approach to utilizing those typographic skills away from the computer. Give it a try and share your creation with me on Instagram or twitter @noelle_fontaine

Thanks for reading 🙂