Designing A Watercolor Painting

When I visited Converse, Indiana during my last stretch of my Memorial Day week vacation I ate at a very homey little restaurant named the Big Dipper. This beautiful little diner sung the song of Americana in its most native form, rural small town America.

After finishing the best hand-breaded tenderloin I had ever had at a restaurant I started to get curious about my surroundings. I drew an ink sketch of the main street and the cool old looking buildings across from me at the restaurant as I sat outside.

I got up to leave and saw a unique sight. There above me on a pole was a wooden eagle. Americana for sure! I brought out my new phone and snapped a couple of pictures of the eagle against the seamless blue sky. This image inspired me to create Independence Day art. 

The Fourth of July is upon us and I believed it would be novel to offer a class on painting that was very accessible. My skills as an illustrator slightly precede my skills as a watercolor painter, so I chose to offer some designs to inspire people.

The process of creating a design from your imagination is similar to the process of creating from a natural setting.

An illustration does not have to relay a specific message. It can be just images that relate to one another in a context. You could say that in my image the American flag could be replaced by a Mexican flag and the bald eagle with a golden eagle. The relationship is the same, but the elements have changed.

Design #2 is the winner.

Design #2 is the winner.

Get to the heart of what you are doing with your art. Ask these questions.

  • What is interesting?
  • What image best relates your purpose whether story, message, or concept?
  • Who are you designing this for?
  • What is your context?
  • How will you execute the art?

Placing the elements in relation to size and shape will affect the way it reads. Size is important as is the negative space around it.

Your art will look the best if you are intentional about what you are doing. Remember that each element will carry meaning in its context. Go to it!


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