Advice for my nephew – illustrated poem commission

I was honoured to be asked by a friend from work if I would illustrate a beautiful poem which she had written for her nephew’s christening. She wanted to give the poem to her sister and nephew as a lasting reminder of that special day and her advice to him throughout life.

watercolour illustrated poem

My friend had seen a lot of my work on my Facebook page, so wanted to leave me completely to my own devices to come up with something which I thought would work for this poem. If you’ve been following my blog for a while you’ll know that one of my main objectives is to develop a recognisable style, and recently I feel that I’ve made a huge step towards this with my layered watercolour paintings. This was the ideal opportunity to apply my style in a new way to illustrate the written word.

watercolour illustrated poem

Having read the poem through several times, I debated whether to illustrate a scene, incorporating imagery such as muddy boots, the beach, trees etc. but decided that as there was such a variety of things to include it would be better to depict them as individual illustrations around the text.

watercolour illustrated poem

Once that was determined, I set about creating a digital version of the illustration, which allowed me to sketch out ideas, move them around and resize them until I was happy with the composition. It is here that I tried out a few different colour combinations, consulting my friend who requested a bright colour scheme to match her nephew’s bedroom which she’d designed herself.

watercolour illustrated poem

I wasn’t sure whether to print the poem or write it out by hand, but after trying a few different hand written fonts I settled on one I liked and decided it would be easier to apply a watercolour wash if I didn’t print it. I also wasn’t too sure how I would get the thick watercolour paper through the printer, as I have tried before and failed! (Any tips appreciated here!)

watercolour illustrated poem

Once I’d written out the poem, I applied the background wash, wet on wet, and added a bit of interest with salt, which sucks up the colour and leaves pretty crystally shapes when it’s brushed off when dry.

watercolour illustrated poem

I printed a copy of the digital sketches I’d done, and traced the vague outline of each little illustration onto watercolour paper before drawing them in more detail and inking them.

Then came the fun task of painting them. I’m really getting into watercolour painting at the moment and am watching YouTube videos to pick up more tips any chance I get! Here are a few of my favourite artist channels if you fancy having a look.

My top artist YouTube channels

Mateus Urbanowicz

Alisa draws

Holly Exley

Minnie Small

Fran Meneses

Iraville

Miriam’s Illustrations

Watercolour Misfit

In fact, one day if I get around to it, I think I’ll write a blog post solely on the artists who inspire me, because there are HUNDREDS!

Anyway, back to my poem illustration. The last task was cutting out the illustrations and mounting them on the background ready for framing.

watercolour illustrated poem

My friend said that her sister was over the moon and even shed a tear, which makes me very happy too!

I’m sharing this post on the following blogs: Handmade Harbour, Paint Party Friday and Blue Chair Diary Illustrations!

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