This piece was commissioned as a first anniversary gift by my client, Robert. Robert had read these words aloud at his friends' wedding and thoughtfully wanted to memorialize the promises therein by having a piece custom made for them! How sweet!
Robert wanted a medium-large amount of text written on lavender paper in dark purple ink, with calla lilies in the corners. He gave me freedom as to the paper size, which was very appreciated! I chose to use 12x12" paper because of the amount of text.
The first thing I did, which I do with most custom projects, was write out the text on tracing paper and play with different ways to format them on the paper.
During the process I suggested to Robert that, instead of using purple paper, I work with soft pastels to create a cloud of color behind the text, which would pull the purple hues from the ink. I'd gotten the idea from Younghae Chung at Logos Calligraphy, and we agreed it would look nice. This link will show you my test runs... the final pastel color scheme I chose blended lavender, mauve, and baby blue.
Once I had the layout determined, I measured the length of each line of text (from the tracing paper pieces), divided them in half, found the centerline of my final paper (to use as my halfway point), and made a small mark to the left of the centerline for where each line of text would start. That's the best way I've found yet of centering text evenly, and while it's not perfect, it works pretty well.
(This picture was from my first attempt; I quickly decided to start anew because the writing was all blobby.)
Time to start lettering! I had my sweet sister-in-law watch my little one for the morning so I could work uninterrupted... I love that kid to bits but she sure can distract a mama!
After breathing a sigh of relief and putting down my pen for a while, it was time to sketch out the calla lilies that Robert wanted. Some time prior (after learning how to draw a calla lily!), I had emailed him a few mock ups and asked for his opinion, and he opted for loose bouquets of flowers in the two side borders over calla lilies in each corner. I sketched, erased, sketched some more...
Robert, in true Awesome Client form, basically gave me free rein as to the design of this project. My initial plan for the flowers was to make simple line drawings, but that morphed into what you see here. Because I didn't want to make them all out of deep purple ink and have poor definition between flowers and leaves, I wondered if I could realistically recreate the image in my mind's eye, which would involve vivid colors melting together as God designed them in nature. I bought a watercolor starter kit and toyed with it, emailing Robert a truly terrible version of what I was thinking. He graciously said, "If you think it'll work, go for it!" So I finished drawing out the flowers, took another deep breath, said a prayer, and went for it!
Well, that's not so terrible, is it? Not considering myself a sketch artist at all and having no idea how to properly use watercolors, I was rather pleased! (God answered that prayer immediately!) I loved the deep purple melting into white, then blending down into the light and progressively darker green of the stem, with small black hints on the edges of the petals. (In the draft of the idea that Robert saw, I hadn't used greens or white, so it was just a purple smudge.) Here's a video of the watercolor process on these flowers. After this small success, I dove all in... first completing one side, then the other. On the leaves I used the two shades of green that came with my little kit, and some brown.
(You can see in the second picture that there is an extra flower poking her head out of the top of the bouquet - I didn't like the straight-across appearance of what I started with, so I threw another bloom in there for good measure!)
Finally, after many hours of work, the piece was completed! I took some photographs, slipped it into a sheet protector, and fairly skipped off to the UPS Store to mail it in a sturdy, flat envelope.
This project was lots of fun! Robert had such faith in me: that was a huge confidence boost and enabled me to trust myself and move forward with what my creative instincts told me, despite my lack of experience in some areas. I learned to trust my mind's eye more, and believe in myself that I could create what I was envisioning. I learned a bit about watercolors, specifically that I love using them and look forward to incorporating them into more of my work! And I also learned how to draw calla lilies! Win!
I hope this post will inspire you to take a step out of your comfort zone and do something awesome!