Watercolor Wednesday – Apples and Bananas

apples_and_bananasDaily drawing and painting (or anything, really) allows us time to think, and experiment, and learn in a way that no class, book, or tutorial can. I read “Make Art Make Money” by Elizabeth Hyde Stevens this summer. Early on in the book she talks about the fairy tale “The Elves and the Cobbler” as an allegory for the life of the artist. Every day, the cobbler would sit at his work bench and cut the leather, and every night the elves would come and sew the leather into shoes. The daily activity of cutting the leather allowed the cobbler to build his skills, try new things, and ultimately take over the creative magic of the elves and become a master shoe maker in his own right.

Banana watercolor illustration by jeffrey johnson of handmade family

Watercolor Wednesday allows me to work on paintings that tangentially are related to the other work that we do. It allows me to paint things that I may not normally paint, to try out new techniques, and to learn how to deal with new textures and forms. For the next couple of weeks, I’m falling back to a classic painting subject of fruit still lifes. It’s amazing the variety of textures, patterns and forms that are presented to us with these everyday objects. Ultimately, the illustrations will be used for Story Starter Chips and display graphics for our Felt Farmer’s Market sets.

apple watercolor illustration by jeffrey johnson of handmade family

Thanks for stopping in, and we’ll see you again soon!

Watercolor Wednesday – More Dinosaurs!

Handmade Family Studio photo for Watercolor WednesdayIt’s watercolor Wednesday again, and I’ve got some more dinosaurs to share with you. This week, I have one more that’s been illustrated in a more “portrait” style, the Brachiosaurus. Ultimately, this painting going to be collected together with the Parasaurolophus, Stegosaurus, Dilophosaurus, Velociraptor, and Pentaceratops for a Penny Loves Dinosaurs matching game and also an expansion set of Story Starter Chips. This will give us a pretty well rounded crew, featuring examples of several different families of dinosaurs across several eras. We’re pretty excited about being able to add them to our show line up.

Also today is a second painting of one of the largest predators of the Jurassic, the Dilophosaurus. I took a bit of a departure on this painting and did more of an action pose, showing the dinosaur racing toward us. As I do research for what dinosaurs may have looked like and how they acted, it gives me the opportunity to think of different ways that we can go about portraying them. For example, most of us remember the scenes in the Jurassic Park movies where the Velociraptors are hunting and fighting. These are the things that we tend to think of when picturing them, then.

There are so many other cool possibilities for poses and stories though just waiting beneath the surface. Like in the middle of a courtship ritual, guarding eggs or building nests. Dinosaurs were complex creatures and paleontologists are researching new theories about their social behaviors all the time. I’m looking forward to exploring some of these ideas in the future with more Penny Loves Dinosaurs comics.

Brachiosaurus watercolor illustration by Jeffrey Johnson of Handmade Family

Brachiosaurus 6×9 Watercolor and Colored Pencil

Dilophosaurus watercolor illustration by Jeffrey Johnson of Handmade Family

Dilophosaurus 6×9 Watercolor and Colored Pencil.

As we get back into the swing of posting weekly, our first goal is to have our Watercolor Wednesday posts ready on Tuesdays. In the meantime, we’re working behind the scenes developing new content and products.

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Watercolor Wednesday – Dinosaurs

Who’s in the mood for some dinosaurs? I think a lot of us can say that we’ve been interested in dinosaurs since we were kids. Jurassic Park has been a top grossing film franchise more than once. There are multiple shows for kids featuring dinosaurs, including Dinosaur Train which engages kids on a variety of levels and is frankly pretty amazing. There are books, games, even monthly magazines dedicated to them. Everyone has their favorite, and today I’m going to share two of mine, the Parasaurolophus and the Stegosaurus. I don’t know why they’re my favorites, but it probably has something to do with Disney’s Fantasia. The dramatic grandness of the dinosaur sequence is something that stays with you.

Stegosaurus 6x9 Colored Pencil and Watercolor

Stegosaurus 6×9
Colored Pencil and Watercolor

Parasaurolophus watercolor by Jeffrey Johnson of Handmade Family

Parasaurolophus 6×9
Colored Pencil and Watercolor



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Watercolor Wednesday: More of the Doctor’s Companions

I did twelve portraits for the September First Friday at the Saint Louis Science Center this year. Perhaps, now that I’m thinking about it, I should have done one companion for each of the twelve Doctors. Made the second set as much of a look back at the series as the first one was. That may have been truer to the spirit of the whole project as outlined by myself, but a lot of the current fan base is really only familiar with the new Doctors and the new companions. So I ran a short poll on Facebook to see who people were most interested in seeing. We visited the first six portraits (The War Doctor, the Brigadier, Sarah Jane, Ace, Stormageddon, and Jack Harkness) last week. This week we’re looking at the other six, all from the modern era, and all more or less related to each other.

Donna Noble Watercolor Portrait by Jeffrey Johnson - Handmade Family Wilfred Mott Watercolor Portrait by Jeffrey Johnson of Handmade Family

Wilfred and his Granddaughter Donna are probably my favorites out of the modern companions. They just displayed so many of the strengths AND weaknesses that come with being human. There wasn’t any trickery, no love story, the Donna story arc was very much about two beings who were lost, and who helped each other find their way. The changes we saw in Donna over the course of her adventures made for some really great stories and then a simply heartbreaking conclusion.

River Song Watercolor Portrait by Jeffrey Johnson of Handmade FamilyIdris Watercolor Portrait by Jeffrey Johnson of Handmade Family

The Doctor’s wives, both literally and figuratively. It’s really no secret that I love Neil Gaiman, so one of the characters that I knew that I wanted to illustrate was Idris from his episode “The Doctor’s Wife”. I love the way he used the word wife to mean more than a mate. Idris (the TARDIS personified) has been his constant companion for over nine hundred years. The Doctor’s partner, his support, she’s shared in his decisions, his joys and defeats. Most importantly, she chose him at least as much as he chose her. She kidnapped him as he stole her. We should all be so lucky as to have a wife like that.

Amy Pond Watercolor Portrait by Jeffrey Johnson of Handmade Family Rory Williams Watercolor Portrait by Jeffrey Johnson of Handmade Family

Everybody loves Amy and Rory, right? The Eleventh Doctor’s best friends, the Doctor’s mother and father in law, the girl who waited and the last centurion. I was talking to someone recently about Rory, and he said that Rory was basically the K-9 of the modern era. The obedient robot dog who came when called. I don’t really think that’s fair to him though. Yes, Rory was always there by Amy’s side, and yes he pretty much always did as he was told. This wasn’t because he didn’t have any agency of his own though. Looking back on his story, everything that Rory did he did with absolute conviction. He was either doing something, or he wasn’t. While Amy and the Doctor were impulsive and reckless, Rory was steadfast. He was not a man to be trifled with, especially when he made up his mind to do something.

Thanks for stopping in and listening to me nerd out over Doctor Who. If you’re interested in purchasing any of these illustrations, please check out my shop on the Square Marketplace, or just click on the images to be taken directly to their shop link. Next week I have some dinosaurs to share with you. Until then, take care and be good.


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