I’ve been feeling inspired by my beautiful new art studio, so I decided to paint a picture for my husband man, Nate. He really loves the work of Brian Kesinger, who paints very cute steam punk girls with tea. I’ve been meaning to try out the painting with tea technique, so it seemed like a good time to do it! And I think it turned out really well. Nate loves it, so mission accomplished! I took a few progress pics along the way. I would have taken more, but I always get really into a drawing and forget!
First off, I steeped some really strong tea and put some of it into a little spray bottle. Since I was just messing around trying out this new technique, I decided to experiment a little. I took a picture frame I have that has an open scroll work pattern and an oval opening, and laid it down on my watercolor paper. I kept the glass in the picture frame, so that it would mask off the opening area and I could draw inside it. I sprayed the paper down several times with the tea, letting it dry in between. After the paper had dried out all the way, I took the picture frame and glass off, and I had a neat looking masked off area where the frame had been. I like the way the edges of the frame are faded and indistinct, instead of sharp. Then I used my see thru plastic ruler to lightly pencil in a striped background around the frame, and painted some of the stripes a light purple with watercolor paint. The background was inspired by this adorable hat I’m currently coveting, but unwilling to drop $240 on.
As for the drawing, I went with a simple portrait, since I didn’t want to spend a lot of time on a complex drawing in case the painting with tea experiment turned out badly. I snapped a quick phone shot for reference and sketched myself, cartoony. I made myself wearing a version of the hat I like. And I threw in some dahlias and a swallowtail butterfly, because. I inked it with a sepia colored Micron pen, to give it a vintagy look.
When I had her all inked, I laid down some more tea washes on the drawing, and let them dry.
Then I painted it with watercolors. I made a few little videos of the drawing and painting process on my Instagram, Here, here, and here! I really like the new video feature on Instagram, It’s a fun way to show a little bit of the art process.
After I painted the watercolors, I distressed it some more with tea splotches. I also used my distress ink along the edges to give it a vignetted look. And then it was all finished! The paper was kind of warped from all the paint and tea, so I gave it a quick press with a nice hot iron, which flattened it up perfectly. Nate totally loves it, and I think my painting with tea experiment turned out very well! I will have to use it again in the future.