It's no secret, one of my very favorite things to paint are food items! When my daughter, Mia, was little, she and my husband were making their annual blueberry pie from my mother-in-law's recipe. Since she loves to document things, she made a little illustration of it. I keep it nestled in my recipe binder, and I'm thrilled that I've held on to it.
Seeing what Mia made inspired me to create my own version. I thought how lovely it would be to bake or cook from a work of art! Gradually, I began making these recipe pieces for other families. Combining watercolors, family memories, traditions, and food seems like a match made in heaven to me!
What started as a child's doodle, grew into a part of my self-employment work. I'm always surprised at the places that inspiration comes from!
A big bonus of making recipe illustrations for people is that I get to experiment with new recipes that I would never have tried before! Here are a couple that I got the opportunity to make after
Now that I've shared that it was Mia's creativity that gave me this inspiration, I thought I'd give a little peak into the process.
My first step is to discuss with the client what elements they would like to see illustrated. Sometimes they want to include a specific family dish, a secret ingredient, or a particular mix that's important to them. I try to make sure that I know what those things are in order to capture the essence of the cooking or baking process.
My creative clients have had me paint corn bread in a cast iron skillet, mocha punch in a family punch bowl, and Christmas cookies in a traditional cookie tin. I love learning about the significance behind these special touches for each client. I even had the pleasure last year of painting a pasta machine used to make homemade pasta! The point is, whatever makes it memorable to your family is what I like to be sure to include.
The next thing I do is get to work on creating the illustrations. I draw them first on watercolor paper, mask of the areas that I want to keep white, and begin building up the layers of color. I let them dry in between layers of paint and "glaze" on area of darks. Once it all dries, I rub off the liquid mask and soften the hard edges around the whites that are left behind. Eventually, I'm happy with what I have down and I add on the shadows. Below is this watercolor process documented as I painted chocolate chips this past weekend for a pie recipe.
Lastly, I go digital. For this part of the process, I lean into my Ohio State University roots and pull on my graphic design background. Here is where I scan each item that I've painted, and put them together with the recipe text in Adobe Illustrator.
If the client provides a handwritten recipe, I'll scan the recipe card to include the family member's handwriting in the background as a texture. This is a wonderful way to memorialize a loved ones handwritten words. I can't stress enough how important family member's written words are once they are no longer with you. I saved everything that I could get my hands on that my father and grandmother had written. They're priceless to me.
I frequently get asked to teach a bit of information about the scanning process in regards to digitizing my artwork. I've got another Scanning and Basic Design Workshop in the plans. For the first time, I'm considering making it an online workshop. I'd love to hear thoughts on if this is something that would interest you. My instagram is @caryndahm or you can e-mail me with your input if you'd like to learn more about adding simple design skills to your abilities: firstname.lastname@example.org
Here's the finished product all put together. Looks yummy! I'm thinking I may have to give this one a try as well. I know we all have so many more things that we want to make and do then there is time in the day!
One of these days I'm going to illustrate my own family's Italian Easter bread.
We color the eggs first, pick our favorite colors and embed them into the bread before we bake it. Each bite is citrusy and heavenly.
Do you have a special family recipe that you and your relatives make? If so, comment below
what it is.
Whether I am working with a client on their brand identity, teaching students or creating a custom watercolor piece, I hope to refresh and inspire others with my work. Read more ...