365 Days of Art: Day 7 – Cake!

The challenge: Create some form of visual art, no matter how small, each day for a full year.

Watercolor rule number 8: Make sure the friggin paper is dry before you start adding layers. It’s sister rule is similar: Don’t try to fix your idiot mistake until it’s dry. (Unless you need to lift it. Then go to town.)

Tonight I painted a cake from the book: Watercolor Success in Four Steps by Marina Bakasova. I’ve never actually eaten or seen a cake like this before, but it looks yummy. (My personal idea of a hand-held cake is a cupcake piled high with butter-cream frosting where I pull off half the bottom of the cake part, throw it away, and just eat the frosting and the top part of the cake. Now that is a cake.)

She had us use yellow ochre for the frosting. She suggested using it on dry, but I used it on half-wet because that made more sense for me with how I paint. The results looked the same. The cake part used burnt sienna and Mars brown. I don’t have Mars brown, so I added some sepia to my burnt umber and that worked. The sprinkles are supposed to be cadmium yellow, olive green, and carmine. I have cad yellow (who doesn’t?), but not the other two. I went on a little mixing spree for the olive green. Hooker green had too much blue, so I started with sap green. I added some yellow ochre, but it needed something more. Since red is green’s complimentary color, and burnt sienna has red in it, I added that and got pretty close to her olive green. For the carmine, I mixed magenta with a little bit of permanent rose.

Then, I used a series of beginner mistakes to totally screw up the top shading and bottom shading.

I ended up letting everything dry and adding dots of burnt sienna and Mars brown to cover up the mistake. Lessons learned. Below, you can see the book’s cake and my cake.

  • Mistake 1: I keep using too big a brush for these tiny shading projects. Yes, I can use the tiny tip of the brush to do the detail work, but that’s not the problem. The issue is how much watercolor the paper immediately soaks out of the brush. I want dots and I get puddles. I’m not sure if using higher quality paper would keep this from happening (here’s looking at you, student-grade Canson notebook), or if this is just how watercolors work, but switching from a 6 to a 2 (Princeton Aqua round brushes) really helped.
  • Mistake 2: I didn’t wait for it to fully dry before trying to add another layer. Good times. Basically, I ended up lifting the layer underneath and making the area I wanted to shade lighter than the surrounding area.
  • Mistake 3: I tried to fix everything before it dried, which worsened the problem.
  • Mistake 4: I repeated the same mistakes at the bottom of the cake because apparently I figured the laws of physics as they pertain to water would work differently the second go-round.
Mine is on the right. Pay no attention to the screwed up bottom shading…

I’m back from vacation. Tomorrow, I hope to continue on with a bigger project from a different book I’m working through that I haven’t had time to open during the holidays. More on that tomorrow. (I’m still in the learning stages of watercolor and drawing, and I’m using a lot of books for projects to learn techniques and color mixing theory, etc. I’m hoping to build confidence so I can try to create a few ideas that I have swimming in my head in my own.) 🙂

What are you guys working on?

About M. B. Weston

M. B. Weston is an award-winning fantasy, pulp, young adult, steampunk, and paranormal author. Her attention to procedure and detail gives her works an authentic gritty, military feel that takes an adventure tale to the level of a true page-turner. Weston’s writing attracts both fantasy and non-fantasy readers, and her audience ranges from upper-elementary students to adults. A gifted orator, Weston has been invited as a guest speaker to numerous writing and science fiction/fantasy panels at conventions across the US, including DragonCon, BabelCon, NecronomiCon, and Alabama Phoenix Festival. She has served on panels with such authors as Sherrilyn Kenyon, J. F. Lewis, Todd McCaffrey, and Jonathan Maberry. Weston has spoken to thousands of students and adults about the craft of writing and has been invited as the keynote speaker at youth camps and at several schools throughout the US.
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