The Background Story: How Watercolor Calligraphy Enhances Your Art

Watercolor is so very versatile in many wonderful ways, but sometimes it needs an added something to give it personality or a touch of satirical whimsy. In my style of watercolors, I tend to lean towards bright colors on white backgrounds, but if the emptiness of the background is overwhelming, I like to add a small story or poem in watercolor calligraphy help draw the viewer in a bit more.

Being an avid coffee aficionado, I have a love affair with beautiful coffee mugs. I was inspired to paint a simple shadowed mug with a luscious whipped cream topping.

My favorite mug was my lovely model for the day.

Follow along to see how to use watercolor calligraphy to enhance your art.

beginning the painting

Paint your main subject

After masking some highlights on the cup, I spent a lot of time painting the pattern, colors and shadows in the whipped cream.

When I was almost at the end before I laid the last shadow on the right, I realized that there was just too much white space going on for the painting to feel complete.  This is perfect opportunity to add some background text!

painting in progress

Picking your background text

There are many things you can use as your background text like poems, quotes, scripture or inspirational sayings, but for this one, I chose to write my own funny little paragraph. I wanted to draw my viewer in and make them “fill in the blanks” where the text was hidden behind the coffee.

Choosing one of my favorite fonts, I sat down and simply penned a simple “storyline.” It doesn’t have to be fancy or even have a specific point. You want to simply take someone to a strategic moment and gently leave them there.

I came up with this little gem:

“She gazed pensively out the window. Her life was in shambles, but the sun glistening off of the cream that graced her cup of lovely coffee, gave her tremendous hope. How could it have all come to this? Why, friend, should something as simple as whipped cream bathed in morning sun speak so eloquently to her? With a pensive sigh, she lifted the enticing cup and took a delicate sip. Rich and warm, it slid down her throat, seemingly melting away her troubles like a spring sun on a morning’s frost. Life wasn’t so bad after all. How could she complain? Her cupid’s bow smile turned up as she wiped the cream from the tip of her freckled nose. Ah, those freckles! Too many days spent chasing laughing toddlers beneath the unforgiving sun, her skin now paying the price. She pondered this for a bit. Would she trade it all in for a life away from the sun and its unapproved rays? She highly doubted it. After all, to live life to the fullest meant that freckles, laugh lines and the like would prove that she had embraced every moment.”

Completely corny, but enticingly real — those are the goals when writing these fun, little blurbs.

Adding words and texture to your painting

After I was satisfied with my story, I simply chose the font size, printed it out and placed it on my lightbox. Lightly sketching the font on straight lines, I used a very watered down burnt umber and a number 2 round brush to paint on the text.

Covering the coffee cup with tissues, I splattered the page lightly by tapping my loaded brush with the same mixture to give it some texture. You have now created a fun and engaging piece of art that is sure to entice and beguile all of your artistic admirers.

detailed paintingCreating art out of the ordinary is one of the best aspects of what we do.

finished painting

I hope you have been inspired to add your own flair to your art!

Happy painting!

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