My brother’s girlfriend, who lives in South Korea, gave me a variety of handmade papers and a bamboo brush last Christmas. I finally had the time and opportunity to test out this quality brush. Since I had also been wanting to try out some Chinese painting looks from a book my grandmother loaned me, I decided to pair up the two experiments. The brush held so much water and distributed colors in a loose, beautiful way. I love the vibrant result given by layering the colors on the brush itself before making strokes as recommended by the book. I based the style of the flowers and leaves on some background flowers in the book’s various walkthroughs. Each stroke was so satisfying, I can’t wait to make more paintings like this.
I officially graduated with a bachelor’s in Business Administration, concentration in marketing, and a minor in English Literature. Now, I once again have the time to create and share those creations with all of you!
My best friend’s baby turned one back in April!
Here’s what I whipped up as part of my present to Lily and a quick shot with the birthday girl herself:
In February, two of my lovely friends, who happen to be best friends with each other as well, turned 23, in the same week. At the moment our house is staged while being sold and therefore, most of my stuff is packed in the garage. Still, I kept some Faber Castell pens and watercolors with travel sized paper under my bed for a moment like this one. To keep from mussing our styled space, I painted outside on an oddly sunny, February day.
The paintings from sketch to color. Amazing what color does.
One of the girls loves country music and has made me join her at a country bar, twice, which is an amazing feat of persuasion as I hate country music. In honor of those ridiculous memories, I sketched out and painted in a little cowboy boot on her card using my own cowboy boots as inspiration. I know, you don’t have to say it: I’m a country music hater with a pair of cowboy boots. Sometimes life doesn’t make sense. I tried to keep a warm color palette for this card and a cooler one on the next, as you might be able to see and used primarily my small set of Windsor Paints I mentioned in previous posts.
My other friend is, thankfully, also a hater of country music though a lower-key one than I. I tried to consciously keep the cards from turning out too similar in style as was likely to happen since I was painting them simultaneously. Though they ended up both sharing the wash background, I focused on differing other aspects: the cool vs. warm tone difference and the more structured, botanical look vs. the loose flowers of the cowboy card.
I’ll hopefully be dragging some of my better papers out of the garage and having the luxury of making a mess soon. Happy birthday to two beautiful gals!
To keep the flowers from being too classic flower-y pink February, I went for neutral shades. I was thinking more of a sepia-filter effect than the Autumnal look I got but it works.
First thing I did was dip my paper in leftover coffee. I kept the calendar lines casual and carefree then lettered in the numbers and heading based on my font book. The flowers and vines are all watercolors. I enhanced the original coffee ombre dip with distress inks.
My close friend has her birthday only a few days after mine so we always celebrate together. We have a ‘handmade cards only’ rule which evolved naturally. Her card to me was adorable with stuck on pearls and kitty cats all over the envelope. My card was not actually a card. It was meant to be but resizing my sketch became too much trouble so it ended up an odd sized watercolor gift paper thing haha. (Check out my pretty new bedding from my birthday, just showcasing that again)
To do the drawing, I consulted a vintage “fashion illustration” workbook series that was either my mother’s or my grandmother’s first. As usual, my original plan was not the look I ended up with at all. I was considering a more abstract, high fashion sketch style but as I was practicing the forms, I had fun and landed on this cutesy figures look.
Though “my” hair color didn’t turn out ashy or dark enough, I was happy with how the red of “my friend’s hair” turned out. She has this phenomenal red-auburn, thick head of hair so I wanted it to be an important part of the piece. As a last detail, I included a lily in “my” hand to represent my friend’s baby, who was too difficult to draw but is an essential member of our friend group now, (the darling’s name is Lily.) The saying is not as sentimental as it comes off but rather an allusion to a joke. But take it as a sweet saying if you’d like!
To fit all twelve months in my altered planner, I will need some months to be 1 page spreads. I choose May as it is always a whirlwind due to the end of Spring semester. It wasn’t my easiest Finals week ever but I got through safe and sound. To reference the academic focus of the month, I hand lettered an “M” made entirely of book spines and the occasional bookmark. It was a fun challenge and I felt a detailed statement would be good for this half size entry. I was inspired by the peonies resting on my desk/vanity/nightstand (I like to make my objects multi-purpose) for the entry’s coloring and pattern. I stole only two stems from my mother’s kitchen bouquet to place in my room.
I used my Acrylic paints to create a semi-abstract, messy interpretation of peonies and leaves encircling the monogram. A basic, black pen was used to add flourishes and a border on top of the floral. I, of course, tried a few versions of acrylic peonies in my acrylic journal before beginning my monthly entry. I have to admit my messy floral pattern doesn’t share much with the more structured practice buds. Lastly, I used a leafing adhesive pen to add spots of gold leaf along the edges of the entry, focusing on the corners. Here’s to summer vacation!
Although many of us take extra time to get through a University degree, some do some responsible planning and graduate on time. One of those successes is my friend. To congratulate her on her graduation, I whipped her up a vibrant, watercolor card.
Before putting paint to card, I did some concept testing in my watercolor practice journal – focusing on greens. I finally got a succulent to work, something I’ve been having trouble with.
I also tested out a variety of purple and blue flower ideas. I don’t believe I used a single one on the card haha.
Lastly, I streaked some gloss gel over the botany, focusing on the flower petals to give a bit more dimension and finish.
I streaked the main green color I was using over the envelope for an ombre effect and to bring the palette together.
To anyone else graduating, any school, Congratulations and Good Luck!
I realize this is a bit late but May is always quite busy, being the end of the semester and all. Still, I found a good moment to reflect back on April and it’s highlights to create my monthly art journal entry. In April, the most important things were filled with love. My friend’s baby girl was born and named Lily. She was my obviously my main inspiration. Just days after her birth, I attended a family friend’s wedding and it was a gorgeous outdoor ceremony and sweet reception. She deserved such a happy day.
For the entry, I mixed gesso with a bit of blue and then green acrylics to make a lightly washed background. The lilies were loosely sketched out with pen and let to dry before I messily watercolored the blooms. It is a simple entry but a reminder of special moments.
At a recent yard sale, my mother found an original flower pressing kit with the same flower press we have had for many years. Now, we each have a press and one even has all its pieces. It’s safe to say we had some pressed petals on hand from playing with the presses. I used these to make quick and easy but lovely mother’s day cards for my extended relatives to be mailed out today. I hope these give you some inspiration for any last minute cards of your own.
To make these, I just used a layer of liquid adhesive (the remaining of a very old mod podge that has now been thrown out), placed pressed petals on top, and sealed the petals with another layer to keep them from being rubbed off in the envelope.
I used the blank cards and envelopes that came with the kit for convenience. Don’t have a flower press? I made one from recycled materials here.
I hope you/your mothers’s have a wonderful Mother’s Day this year!