Pleased to introduce you to my newest edition of thefrancofly La Vie en Watercolor newsletter, a deep look into the creative mind through the lens of watercolor. I know that creativity isn’t this eureka, struck-by-lightning, kinda phenomenon. Obtaining the tools to achieve (hopefully) great creative work requires deep reflection and channeling complex emotions at a moment’s notice.
My path to becoming an ever-evolving artist was not a straight and narrow one by any stretch of the imagination. My journey started with a little rusty Winsor Newton watercolor palette that I bought over a decade ago as a broke traveler in Paris with no tangible artistic ambitions. Today, I have an exciting career as a watercolor illustrator, author, standup comedian and drawing professor, working for clients like The New Yorker, Chevrolet and Cartier.
Through my experiences I’ve learned a lot, and I have loads of insights and stories to share about being pro-active in seizing beauty and seeing like an artist. This newsletter is not about executing a masterpiece, but more about how to develop ideas and organize your thought process to create stronger, more personal art.
Every week, I will share a few insights into what I am currently thinking about (museum visits, Parisian trend reports, color combinations, micro recipes) and a prompt that will activate your own creative process. This newsletter is for you if you are an artist at heart, but still can’t find the time or headspace to get inspired. Whether you are a painter, writer, francophile or traveler, I hope this will be the place that gives you an encouraging little push to create.
Join me for a cup of coffee or a gobelet of vin rouge at the Portes Ouvertes Montreuil. I’ll be hanging new large-scale watercolor work, selling my books “Paris in Stride” and my New Victory Garden 2023 Calendar and other watercolor keepsakes. And also take the time to explore all the other artist studios in the storied Usine Chapal.
New Victory Garden 2023 Wall Calendar, available wherever books are sold!
Greetings from a Parisian graveyard AKA the lonely month of August. There’s 10,000 step minimum to find an open boulangerie and a decent baguette.
I’ve hidden myself from my small child long enough to share my newest publication, New Victory Garden 2023 Wall Calendar! If you kindly ordered the 2022 version, you’re in for a treat. It features 12 sumptuous illustrations of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers—along with tips on what to plant and when. At the end of the day, it’s a joyful and optimistic gift under $20 and something beautiful to hang in the kitchen.
If you are so inclined, please order a copy or two, request it at a local bookstore, share with a friend and leave a review on Amazon. Even if you can’t purchase a copy, every little gesture helps.
Enjoy a little taste of NVG 23 and some behind the scenes pics of the creative process.
Although I can’t walk down the produce isle without getting sick to my stomach after painting so many fruits and vegetables, if you’d like to learn my own watercolor process, take my course here.
Drawing fruit and vegetables is the perfect way to get well acquainted with watercolor paint. Not only should you have fruit and veg on hand (AKA no excuses), painting produce is the ultimate study in observation, volume and color.
“Draw from life!” There’s a reason that annoying drawing teacher of yours was also merging together random objects to create a still life. Drawing abides by the 10,000 hour rule. You’ve got to start somewhere and commit before you can move onto painting whatever it is that’s in your head. Drawing from life retrains your scrolling brain to reconnect with the present and forces you to draw what something is instead of what you “think” something looks like.
“Look Look Look!” Before committing with watercolor, give yourself a few 1-minute drawing exercises. Draw with your opposite hand. Draw the composition without taking your pencil off the paper. Draw your still life without looking down at the paper. It’s easy to get frustrated with technique especially if you haven’t picked up drawing since a discouraging art teacher killed your creative joy. But before getting lost in “what” to draw, commit to drawing what is in front of you. All the information is there, so just draw it.
“Light Source”. Drawing veg is the ultimate exercise in understanding volume. And rest assured, it’s as easy as identifying where the light source is. This will cue you in on where you need to save the white space (what not to paint) and where to put the shadows. And of course, reflecting light can say a lot about what a fruit or vegetable can be. Think of how light reflects off of a red rubber ball versus an orange. A red rubber ball reflects it in one defined area because it has a completely smooth finish. The orange reflects light on each of the pores on its zest (note: how to create texture).
“Mix Mix Mix!” Who doesn’t love paint by number? But alas, this is the wild west of watercolor. The beauty and dynamic nature of the medium is when colors are mixed. It’s a truer representation of what you see and it’ll jump-start your understanding of watercolor, too.
“Be Bold!” Common knowledge in watercolor is to dose out the color from the lightest to darkest. This is good advice in a finicky medium that sadly still doesn’t have an undo button. However, since produce is already brightly saturated (AKA colourful), be bold and add the color as you see it instead of torturing yourself with layer after layer which can easily turn into a watermarked mess.
Let loose, save the white space and don’t drink the watercolor water! More here.