Painting Watercolor After a Year
Designing a bookmark for Children's Book Week 2023
Hey there Cool Kids!
Today, we are painting a bookmark for Children’s Book Week 2023. I got invited to create a bookmark paired with an activity based on Oh, No the Aunts Are Here, the wonderful book written by Adam Rex and illustrated by yours truly.
Psst, if you preorder this book now through Books of Wonder, your copy will be signed and personalized by me!
Okay, now that my shamless self-promoting is over, let’s paint a painting.
So the brief for this illustration is that it needs to have a bookmark on the left side, then an activity on the right side for kids to play around with. Here’s an example of one of last year’s bookmarks by Vincent Chen:
This year’s theme is: Read Books. Spark Change.
My first step was figuring out what I wanted to do.
Above are my very very rough sketches figuring out what I wanted to paint. Okay yes I accidentally spilled my tea on this page too. Anyways, “Spark Change” for me made me think of stars and lights and galaxies and all that shebang so I decided to go that route which led to this sketch…
Tada! This is the final sketch. I had the brilliant idea of having the activity as a connect the stars (dots) to build a spaceship. Luckily it got approved so then I moved onto doing a digital color sketch:
Then it was time to start painting…
First, I print out the sketch to size with my printer.
Then I trace the sketch into some Fabriano hot press 140lb watercolor paper. You can find the lightpad that I use here.
This is what the transferred sketch looked like. I then tape the painting down on a piece of board. And finally, it was time to start painting… and I haven’t painted in watercolors in close to a year so I was VERY nervous.
I started out easy by filling in the stars and planets. I wanted to make sure I fill in areas that I want to keep light in value compared to the dark galaxy sky.
Then it was time for some dramatic tape action and taping off areas I wanted to keep the paint off of for now. The tape I use is the Japanese nichiban masking tape which I will never stop promoting because it is the best tape out there.
After I tape it, I then use a sharp x-acto knife and cut around the areas I want to keep. I forgot that I used to do this ALL the time for my paintings. I don’t know how I did it so much before, I only did a little bit on this painting and I wanted to pull my hair out.
Then it was time to properly paint.. AH… I was very scared it had been a very long time since I picked up my watercolor paints so I was pretty rusty.
Then I decided to throw some salt on it while it was wet to give it a weird little effect but I wasn’t sure if I liked it…