Watercolour Illustration

After a month of painting in acrylics, I have to say that it felt strange contemplating my watercolour palette today. Its quite amazing how fast familiar ground can feel foreign, and how quickly we adapt to our ways. No matter how much I paint or what work I produce, that first approach to your palette and a new sheet of white paper’s potential, it still feels like the first uncertain time, every time. Perhaps its a wonderful thing that keeps me objective, open and learning with my work rather than complacent. New energy comes with every piece large or small, its a new story that feels uncertain until it begins to unfold and take direction, and I have no time for procrastination!

My new series of work returns to a fabulous watercolour illustration brief for The Grounds of Alexandria’s amazing new city store. As many commercial illustration briefs do, the email started with an always entertaining ‘sooooo this is that moment when i know i’m asking the world, but have to ask incase it’s somehow possible….’ to which I cringed and said yes, of course its possible!

Sooooo late last night I started painting, working through the night and day, and night again to get through the 14 illustrations which are due in less than a weeks time… And with that I puddled my brush back into my well trodden, well loved and intimately, precisely, perfectly chaotic watercolour wells of pigment, and all returned to familiar ground in an instant. Home 🙂

This collection expands on my earlier coffee botanical study which will feature on the cover of their beautiful new menu in a couple of weeks time from now. The original coffee watercolour illustration features a lush branch of the coffee plant, complete with flowers and coffee beans which interestingly flowers and fruits at the same time… a botanical artists dream!

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The coffee artwork has been rendered in a stylized manner, reminiscent of the early days of hand coloured lithograph botanical prints and the result was quite lovely. Now the rest of the menu needs illustrating in a way that does their amazing food and beverages the justice it deserves, and so the workload and 16 hour studio days are well and truly upon me once more. Long days, lots of work to get through, but with a brush in hand and I am in my element.

The first of these small but intricate illustrations are emerging now and I am very happy with the progress and results so far. Initially I am painting them in my usual realistic watercolour style, but they will be stylized collectively at the end to bring them in line with the original botanical illustration, and to create a cohesive collection for my client.

The first illustrations completed today feature two sensational cakes of delicate pink saucers, decorated with luscious strawberries, delicate meringue and lemon drops with sweet botanical detailing of white daisies and blue violas to complete the picture, so typical of The Grounds attention to every detail. You can see the second coming together in time lapse on my Youtube channel. When it comes to work, its fair to say we are very compatible in this regard! I hope you enjoy watching this new watercolour illustration series come together over the week.

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Work continued into the early hours of the morning overnight, and kicked off again at sun up this morning… with another long day for me here. My brain has shifted gears nicely back to watercolour, and the medium feels like a natural instinctive part of me again, just the way I like it. The rain came down today, helping me feel far less guilty about being locked away in my studio so happily. The next two illustrations of Cold Brew and mocha mousse are complete with another two drawn up ready for the new day ahead.

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Todays illustrations continue with number 5 and 6 of the 14 in this brief, a beautiful affogato and an iced toffee coffee. I think I put a few kilos on just looking at these pictures!

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Todays illustrations are really sweet little compositions of a coffee tasting board served on a beautiful silver tray, a challenging piece to render at this size, but i really like this one. The next is a delicious cheesecake decorated with berries and kiwi, presented on a sentimental old world pink saucer.

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Ive had a wonderful day actually visiting the Grounds today to try a Casual Encounter, one of the many cocktail illustrations I created for them recently. Honestly, it was simply divine! No visit to The Grounds could disappoint and of course we had a beautiful time. It was a very welcome if not short break in my schedule of the most fitting kind… Needless to say, reading the menus (which are still transitioning from its old illustrations to the new) only reminded me of my pressing deadlines and the workload waiting at home for me more, so with that we left the surging buzz of The Grounds and departed to the calm of my studio to recommence painting.

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Amongst all things going on this amazing week, two new illustrations have been added to this series over the past couple of days. The first is a fluffy sponge cake, the second a delicately spiral iced cake, served on a gorgeous botanical saucer, decorated with a perfect side of coastal daisies. Its a cake made just for angels im sure… Tomorrow will see new creations emerge from the studio, but for now its time to rest these eyes of mine.

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Working on the last illustrations in this current series now, I have two new paintings completed and just one remaining for now. The first is an ever so tiny but a distinctly glamorous vintage tea lady serving all manner of delicious treats amongst the sweet pea bunches, and a fairly evil red velvet cake tower topped with berries, mallow and fresh fig… which i just love to illustrate.

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Today’s illustration is tiny and fairly involved for its micro size, comprising of a beautifully coloured, partly metallic box holding an array of delicious layered cake, strawberry tart, fresh berries and figs. Moving on to the final painting now, Ive received an additional image to produce to bring the total in this series of watercolour illustrations to 15… The end is very near!

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The final watercolour illustrations feature a pecan layered cake and a sweet, tiny teapot, teacup, cake stack topped with a pretty pink mini cupcake.

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This brings this brief to a beautiful end, bang on the deadline (as always!) and I am really happy with the outcome… Thanks so much for following along.

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As the last projects draws to a close… the new project begins!