One of the (many) projects I’m working on is to make watercolor sketches from the beautiful, mouth-watering photos in the book Baking Chez Moi: Recipes from My Paris Home to Your Home Anywhere by Dorie Greenspan.
Since I love baking, and sometimes struggle with deciding on what to sketch, I thought this would be a great subject. There are a few skills I’d like to improve by doing this project:
- more accuracy with contour line drawings, without getting bogged down in making it look photo-realistic
- drawing more quickly
- getting comfortable adding watercolor wash
- hand lettering
After just a few sketches, I’m finding that this is also a good opportunity to practice painting highlights and glass.
I’ve noticed that with this sketchbook (a Stillman & Birn Alpha Series book), when I apply watercolor washes to one side of the paper, the other side becomes very difficult to draw on. On one hand, I don’t want to leave pages blank, but on the other hand I don’t want to fight with my pens on the paper. I also find myself wanting to primarily draw on the right page rather than the left. I may try just doing a drawing on the right side of the spread, using the left side for little details or quick sketching.
I’m working on finding a good balance of painted areas and unpainted areas with my ink and watercolor sketches. It’s becoming more clear that in order to achieve a sketch that has a fresh and spontaneous quality to it, it takes more white areas than what strictly looks like a highlight.
With this box of macarons drawn from a photo, I kept the bright areas of the macarons unpainted. The liner in the box that they’re packaged in got a very light wash of color in the bright areas.
Another skill I’m working on improving is the shape of color the brush lays down next to the white areas. I feel like I’m getting closer, but the strokes seem a little self-conscious to me.
Another thing I did with this sketch was to paint the darker areas of the macarons with a deeper shade of the color, not a neutral grey as with a drop shadow. I love the way that technique makes the macarons so interesting to look at and dimensional.
The idea of illustrating a recipe is fascinating to me. It’s such a cool combination of art and design — drawing and painting ingredients + typography and layout of the details and instructions.
It took me awhile to actually take the plunge and draw a recipe…but one day when I was making Rosemary Roasted Potatoes it seemed like the perfect opportunity. My goal was to make the illustration fairly quickly, without obsessing over details or layout. The crazy shape of the frame came about because I was drawing around a previous drawing in my sketchbook.
I love making little shadows under objects, especially with the water brush because of its fine point and fairly firm bristles. I think the sprigs of rosemary turned out the best in this one, and the little pile of salt is so darn cute.
I’d definitely like to do more projects like this!
- ink pens
- watercolor brushes
- water brush