Making modern watercolour effects: a guest artist post

Over the last few years I have had to adapt to the modern way of designing, having been taught the Adobe Creative Suite by my daughter in order to keep up with the times. I now mix Illustrator and Photoshop work together to create my unique range of cards, which I sell online at Decorque Cards, and I quite often delve into my archive to scan or photograph old work to use in new designs.

I am a fine artist and textile designer by trade, having worked all my life using watercolour paints. I don’t think you can beat the feeling of the paintbrush on paper and the amazing effects you can achieve with this versatile media. What I do love to see is some of these artistic methods, making their way into the stationery and greetings card world.

A trend for the 2015 Spring Summer season is Watercolour Painted effects mixed with simple typography to create cards. The Stationery Trends Magazine website has highlighted this as a Fresh Pick for the season entitled Painterly Elements. By scanning in and digitally printing designs on beautiful paper such as Savoy Cotton or Felt paper, you can still achieve texture and subtlety of the paint and modernise with bold and simple typography overlaid on top. All using a CMYK printing process.Painterly-elements-designs

The idea of mixing watercolour techniques with wedding stationery became popular last year, with a lot of blogs such as The Promise featuring it as a hot trend. It appears that with a lot of graphic and more simple designs appearing, people want to hark back to more traditional and unique methods. Bespoke designers such as Gemma Milly, and businesses such as Paper Bark and Arbee Cards are all offering watercolour wedding stationery as an option, to then be personalised for a couple’s big day. Their designs are a lot more decorative and floral, catering perfectly to the wedding market. They use delicate colour palettes that work across the broad range of elements required.

Watercolour-Stationery

The joy of watercolour painting can come from it’s simplicity and opportunity to layer colour in a vibrant way too. What I like about the designs that Matrick and Eve create are that they are not using a watercolour painted, cliché scene, or something that they have designed specifically in mind to take typography. They are using a design purely as a colourful, decorative background in order to allow and take a large, simple typography message.

They are also using colour in a bold way. That is what makes their designs cool and modern and not too pretty and feminine. It also makes them versatile, working not only on notebooks, but also gift tags and wine bottle tags (to name but a few). These designs particularly appeal to me, so I thought why not dig out some of my old textile watercolour designs and give this concept a go myself?

Matrick-and-Eve-designs

Below are a collection of my watercolour designs, au naturel, straight from the archives. As you can see my style mixes the floral and decorative with the bold and colourful, so I’m a real mix of some of the designs I’ve showcased above!

Lesley_original_designs

To create my first two cards, I’ve scanned in a couple of the more traditional types of florals and created two options. They are similar to that of the wedding stationery, and some of the designs I’ve seen on the Ivy and Ellen website. They are more classic, using swirly fonts and have a feminine look to them in tone and style.

Lesley_Ivy_and_Ellen_designs

In contrast to that, I’ve created a more contemporary collection by turning one design into a set of cards, by altering the hues in Photoshop, layering on an of-the-moment modern typeface in Indesign and picking a design that is more abstract. These cards are made striking by the vivid colours, graphic font, white border and black envelopes. In my opinion they would not look out of place alongside some more quirky and graphic cards on sites such as Oh Deer or Society 6.

Lesley_watercolour_cards

This method has not only brought life to old designs, but has given them a new purpose. They have gone from textile designs to card designs. I’m thinking of including these in my collection, and maybe embellishing a few of the more traditional ones with gems and maybe some delicate silver paint. I like the idea of painting back on top of the original watercolour design…..ooh I can feel another experiment coming on!

About:

Written by: Lesley Stevens – owner of Decorque Cards. I design and sell a selection of handmade and digitally printed cards and tags online, all made in the UK. My passion for design, pattern and colour stems directly from my love of nature; whether drawn, hand-painted, photographed or drawn in Illustrator, when brought together in Photoshop, my design comes alive and even more so when printed.

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