Turquoise Bike - A Custom Watercolor Painting

Doing a custom painting for someone is definitely a treat! It can also be a challenge especially when the subject is one that I don't normally paint. But by accepting the challenge, my abilities grow and that's a good thing.

This time I was asked to do a painting  that would be a gift for an avid biker - his favorite turquoise bike.
There is a lot of detail to a bicycle, so fortunately, the client sent me a good picture.

Now there are many ways one could paint this bike - leaning against a stone wall in the countryside or against a lamp post on a cobblestone street and either of those would be my style.

But the bike owner likes a minimalist style. So the client asked for the bicycle to be painted on a simple white background. She wondered if this is possible since the bike has white wheels, handlebars and seat.

Fortunately it is, so let's get to work and see how this painting turns out:

I start out with a light drawing that has been transferred to smooth watercolor paper:

Now, since the image in my head is of a drafted object, more like an illustration, I want to make sure the wheels are completely round. I have templates for circles from way back in the old days when I did pen and ink drafting by hand. Yes, I go back that far.

But none of them are big enough! This is when creativity comes into play. I hunt through all my jar tops and water glasses and finally find that the seal on a container of dried chicken broth is just the right size. So that's what I use to draw the outer rims of the wheels! Imagine that - have you ever done something similar?

Now for the spokes. I want them to be straight, so instead of painting them, I use a straight edge and a sharpened colored pencil.

That's a lot of spokes!

After both wheels are drawn, I go to work with watercolor paints:

With my smallest brush, a size 1,  I paint in details:

The gears don't look round enough to me, so now I get out the circle template I told you about before. I haven't used it in ages, but I guess there are times when it still comes in handy:

Below is the finished illustration. Notice that I used shading to delineate the white areas. Their edges are a bit darker than the white paper so they show up, yet you still get the impression that they are white:

When I send the client the image for her approval, she writes: "Holy moly! It is PERFECT!!!! ...This is such a great, and thoughtful gift to give to someone! I can't wait to see it in person!"

I agree - what a great idea she had for a gift!

I'm happy to take custom orders! Please contact me for a custom painting or to have a print made of a painting you like.
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Anonymous said...

This is just like Ube's stuff at Ube's Icecream Shop. This sketch seems to take a lot of work but i think Ube does it in 3 or 5 mins as a gestural sketch.

Janet Zeh said...

That is pretty quick, but if it's a gestural sketch, that would be about right. This one is more like drafting, so it took a bit more than a few minutes. My sketches are more messy. :)