freelance illustrator uk

watercolour illustration

by illustrator Adrian cartwright



Watercolour illustration by freelance illustrator Adrian Cartwright.

It’s been a long time since I was commissioned to do watercolour illustration. There was that coffee cup ring in my note pad last week. But that doesn’t really count. Or does it? Perhaps if I’d added a smile to the ring, making a face, I could have taken a photo of it and used it in this post. (Watch this space).


Back to watercolours.

There was a time when it was a weekly/daily render for me. In the 90’s I was always illustrating new house builds, and at that time an Artist impression was typically rendered in watercolour, they sold houses… kinda, with an artistic rendition of what would be built. Surprising at the time, artistic license wasn’t allowed. I had to be very exact about it. Hence technical illustration skills came in very helpful.


I often did watercolour logos for the site branding and maps for housing developers. I even did floor plans in water, but more often they were drawn with Rotring pens. Remember them?… Let’s leave that for another post.


I would love to do watercolour illustrations again. The delicate but accidental finish seemed real, original and personal. I use to work late into the night sometimes, perhaps not blood, but sweat and tears were often the ingredients, and spit was quite handy to get just the right point on my Windsor and Newton No2 finest Sable brush.


Waiting for the paint to dry, wasn’t really a problem. It often gave me a few minutes to rest my eyes, make a coffee and think about the illustration I was about to produce.


The reason I stopped.

I’m getting all sentimental now and not remembering why I said “I’m going to stop doing watercolours. They’re not commercially viable anymore” You see, I was making more money digitally, and many of my clients were now commissioning CGI images. I loved the watercolurs, but they took twice as long to produce than a cleaner and easier to correct digital alternatives. Plus delivery was only an email away… I kinda miss driving to my clients with the finished artwork in my hand. Looking at their faces when they looked at the artwork with a smile, saying “thanks, that’s great.”


Looking at this Wreath.

This wreath made of Oak leaves isn’t my best at all, but symbolises a typical run of the mill watercolour for a logo or branding. I honestly can’t remember what this was for. These commissions were often for a small amount of money, and often done in 2-3 hours. Writing this post has got me all nostalgic. I might try and dig out my old paint and brushes, and have a more lovingly approach to this illustration. I like its composition. At the end of the day, good illustration is good illustration, no matter how it’s rendered. Perhaps it’s time for a reinvention in design, well illustration anyway.

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