The idea for an illustration about desserts was mined directly, from a forever expanding list of prompts I use, to create daily art journal entries whenever I’m stumped. “#67 Desserts” reminded me what a good waiter always asks at the end of a meal: "Did you leave room for desserts?"
This gave me ideas for all sorts of decadent sweets. So, I pushed the concept further. What type of comfort and decadent desserts could fit under a “Dessert For Breakfast” menu plan’s breakfast theme?
The final menu came down to these: Fig, Blackberry & Blueberry Pie, Chocolate Syrup Ice Cream Sundae, Graham Crackers White Chocolate Chip Cafe Au Lait Parfait, Mille-feuille (American Napoleons), Hardy Kiwi Strawberry Popsicle, Paw Paw Lemon Curd Squares, Ginger-Lemon Dragonfruit Salad.
Respond to the prompt “#67 Desserts” with a whimsical watercolor illustration, to create an art journal entry, that fulfills a self-assigned, daily art journal dedicated practice. I titled the journal entry “Dessert 4 Breakfast” from the start. This helped me stay within the parameters of desserts I wanted to draw and paint.
CLIENT: Personal Project
RESULTING PROJECT: Private art collection | 11” x 15” original watercolor painting | Open edition kitchen art print offered for sale at a regional art fair for the first-time.
No specific mood board was originally created for this project at first. Instead, an eclectic mix of public domain photo references from Raw Pixel and the real thing (in some cases), provided inspiration for the composition and mood of each food graphic.
Art Journal Rough Pencil Sketch
Realized almost right away that the art journal rough sketch had the potential to create something magical at a larger scale. I switched gears. I decided to create the final food illustration as a stand alone piece on 11” x 15” Windsor & Newton watercolor paper, instead of completing it in my 11” x 8.5” Nature Sketch art journal, as I originally intended.
Pencil Sketch Final Drawing
Then, traced the rough sketch of each graphic on separate tracing paper. I moved things around,and as I went, refined each element as well as the composition. Arranged and transferred the final drawing onto watercolor paper.
Quick & loose, wet-on-wet, color sketches with watercolor, pen and ink once the final drawing was done. I wanted to get a feel for the dominant color groups but ended up settling on a juicy harmony of colors.
Ever since I discovered how underpainting often adds incredible dimension even to watercolor paintings, I’ve been trying to use it as often as I can. It does take much more time (and patience) to add that extra step. However, the results are SO worth it, that I almost never regret it. For “Dessert 4 Breakfast,” I chose raw sienna as a bright base for the final painting.
Once the underpainting was completely dry, I started playing around with a wet-on-wet first wash, derived from the color palette discovered in the color study I'd already completed. Refined it as I went.
Work In Progress - Masking White Spaces
Next, I tackled the most complex and time-consuming elements first: the Blueberry, Blackberry & Fig Tart painting. Doing it that way helped establish the tone of the remaining watercolor illustrations. However, before I moved on to the rest, I realized I needed to protect the white areas. So I masked what remained and continued adding details and deepening contrast, wet on wet washes, layer by layer.
About seven weeks and twenty-nine plus hours later, the watercolor painting of “Dessert 4 Breakfast" is finally completed.
To Be Released Wall Art Home Decor in the Art Shop (Soon)
The result of all of this is a mouth-watering and stylized dessert illustration that looks at home in any boho kitchen decor. I’ll be releasing a limited number of archival 13” x 19” giclee print on watercolor paper soon in the United Wanderlust Art Shop. “Dessert 4 Breakfast” was recently exhibited at the 25th Anniversary 2023 MCAD Art Sale.
As it turns out, the versatile and bold nature of the watercolor graphic elements of “Dessert 4 Breakfast,” meets the needs of :
1) Magazine or blogs who want to illustrate food articles with cheerful, bright, and semi-realistic painterly illustrations to keep their readers engaged.
2) Up and coming home cook brands in the food space who want to build the loyalty of their audience, with merchandise that offers character, is artist-painted, imaginative and uplifting.
3) Local coffee shops, bakeries or family-friendly restaurants who wish to re-vamp their menu items with unforgettable, delicious graphic food illustrations.
4) Packaging companies who want to use painted food illustrations to delight their clients with whimsical and unusual food art.
5) Jigsaw puzzle companies seeking ethereal watercolor food illustration for the food and beverage department of their puzzle collections.
- Want to see more watercolor food illustrations? Explore them here.
- If this atmospheric watercolor travel illustration seems like something you’d want to create or license for your own projects (marketing, book, editorial, stationery etc.), simply submit a request in my contact form with what you have in mind and we can go from there.
Written and illustrated by Patricia Jacques. I'm a freelance food & travel illustrator who works with watercolor. I enjoy working with individuals and commercial clients with similar passions for slow food, slow life and slow travel.