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Journal

Filtering by Category: Ink & Watercolors

Watercolors and pen & ink

elena wilken

Using watercolors and pen and ink together is a recipe for success.
Regardless if you choose to lay down the watercolors first and then come in and add details, or sketch your drawing and then add splashes of watercolor, the results are always very endearing, I think. The mediums compliment each other beautifully. The starkness of the ink lines and the looseness and expressive quality of the brush strokes are a marriage made in heaven if you ask me :)

 Garden flowers • watercolors & ink pen exploration --- I love laying down the watercolors first, and then letting my imagination see shapes and forms in the color pigments

Garden flowers • watercolors & ink pen exploration --- I love laying down the watercolors first, and then letting my imagination see shapes and forms in the color pigments

Jamie, of inksnthings is an Illustrator sketching the everyday, everyday :)
If you love this technique, you'll find her work worth following and sharing.

*edited to add - Recently, Ohn Mar Win, an Illustrator surface designer teacher just published a great online class on the subject. You'll enjoy her lovely style, the step by step demonstrations and easy to follow instructions. The class is available on Skillshare (an online resource I absolutely love and have used again and again to learn new skills over the last few years) and is called Sketchbook Practice : Create Freely with Ink and Watercolor.

My Favorite online Watercolor, Modern Calligraphy and Lettering classes

elena wilken

Here is a handful of my most favorite online classes. I promised I'd share them with you in one of my last posts, where I shared a bit about my story.

I am a huge fan of online classes and workshops because they can fit so easily to anyone's lifestyle and schedule needs. Plus it's hard to beat the value! You can not sign up for a 1 term 3 credit college class, for the price of all these  resources added together.

There are many great platforms out there, but Skillshare, is one of my favorites. I've been introduced to both surface pattern design and modern calligraphy through teachers on this platform, so that might be why I have a soft spot for it. That, and the fact that the quality of the classes I've been still taking since then, makes it worth spending the time watching.

modern-calligraphy-practice-elena-wilken.jpg
handlettered-card-elena-wilken-ewcouture.jpg
modern-digital-handlettering-iPadPro-elena-wilken.jpg

Modern Calligraphy and Lettering favorite classes

  • Melissa Esplin's Modern Calligraphy online workshop - is a self paced, one month membership to the online class, well structured and organized, with homework and assignments, that you get personal feedback on. I will be going back and taking this probably every couple of years - it's that great and it was that eye opening for me!
    It starts with a more traditional alphabet based on Copperplate calligraphy (which to be honest I wasn't excited about in the beginning), and it works through the assignments to get the students exploring their own personal style by the end of the class.
    After going through this class and others as well, I think this (or another great traditional calligraphy class) should be the first one any student takes. There is something to be said about learning the rules first, so you can beautifully break them later, in the pursue of modern calligraphy.
     
  • Maybelle Imasa-Stukuls' Beginning Calligraphy class on CreativeBug.com is another one of my favorite beginner calligraphy classes. The shape of her letters is slender, delicate, emanates strength, and they are just all-around beautiful.
    If you love her style and enjoy the class, I am sure you'll lover her calligraphy kit Belle Calligraphy Kit: Materials and Instruction for Modern Script, published by Chronicle Books.
     
  • Molly Jacques is the independent lettering artist that opened my eyes for the very first time to modern calligraphy and lettering!
    She used to have a class available through Skillshare - that's how I was first introduced to her.
    While she doesn't teach on the Skillshare platform anymore, she does have calligraphy, lettering and business classes available on her website.
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Watercolor & Gouache favorite classes

Skillshare has tons of watercolor classes available, and I watched a number of them. However my most favorite teachers are over on CreativeBug.com. The monthly membership allows you to watch any of the available classes, and is super affordable at $4.99 /a month. You might even be able to find a free 2-weeks trial by searching Google first.

  • Yao Cheng is a wonderful watercolorist and artist, but also an amazing teacher. You can't go wrong by watching any and all of her Creativebug classes!
     
  • I loved Jennifer Orkin Lewis (also known as August Wren) class Illustrative Painting with Guache.
    In many aspects, a completely different style from Yao Cheng, but she is a great teacher also. Best color mixing demonstration ever!
     
  • Not a watercolor/gouache, but a favorite drawing and illustration basics class is also taught on this platform by Heather Ross, a surface patterns and fabric designer that I have a lot of admiration for.

    Have fun exploring, and please do come back and share your favorite classes and resources in the comments, if you fall in love with any! :)
watercolor-foliage-elena-wilken.jpg

My Little Home Office ...and How it All Started

elena wilken

A few months ago I moved into a work space outside our home.
The new office is beautifully lit on sunny days, and the streets outside the window delightfully buzz with life. Aside from the background noise it is very quiet. ...There are no children running around or hopping in as they pass by the door. I dearly miss the thought of those moments some days, but just as dearly, I appreciate and welcome the quietness :)
This new space feels like home and I am so thankful for the opportunity to be there. 

 Here is a little sneak peak at this new spot I am spending my working hours in these days, with a little Meyer Lemon tree by the window.

Here is a little sneak peak at this new spot I am spending my working hours in these days, with a little Meyer Lemon tree by the window.

...But it’s not this space I want to show you. Not today.

...Let me first introduce myself.
I am Elena, an illustrator, letterer, graphic designer, and a self-declared photographer at heart. And before that, a wife, a mom to our 3 loves, and one part of a less traditional family with a working mom and a "domestic engineer" dad (aka our most awesome stay-at-home dad).

 image by Velvet Owl Photography

image by Velvet Owl Photography

Almost 9 years ago to the day, out of my love and passion for photography, intertwined with my graphic design knowledge, I started EW Couture Collection. It was about one year after our first baby was born.
EW Couture Collection is a line of designer Photoshop templates and marketing materials for the professional photographer - Christmas cards, business cards, albums and mini accordion albums, CD, DVD and USB templates, presentation boxes, baby announcements, graduation invitations... you name it. All photographer marketing materials you could think of. 

7 years ago, before our second baby was born, I left my associate graphic designer position, and the part time gig became a full time contracting job.

Fast forward to almost 4 years ago after our third boy was born - my husband took on the role of a stay at home dad, and I took my work more seriously than ever. We strongly felt that it was the right direction and fit for our family and it made the most sense for us and our kids. So we stepped out into this adventure, and never really looked back. Only forward.
Along the way, I also started a collaboration with Mpix, creating for their beautiful collection of handmade photo goodies and keepsakes, and stationary.

It’s been a whirlwind ride that's been leaving me speechless and still fills me with thankfulness again and again. It allows me to make a living doing something that I enjoy, while leaving a mark on other peoples’ lives.
The people I've met, the friendships I’ve made, the things I am learning about myself and the way this journey is shaping our family, will forever stay with me.
That's not to say that there are no sacrifices we've chose or had to make along the way, or that life is in bright shades of pink everyday. But we both know we are in the right place, and wouldn't do it differently, given the choice. The kids are thriving, and they love having Paul around so much! ... I am sure I will be sharing more about our experience, as I become more friendly with my blog again, so stick around ;)

But for today, I wanted to take a moment to be thankful for - and honor - the little  place where I started my journey.
If you'd know me, you'd learn that I get attached to places, and they become very meaningful to me. That was the case with my little home office, too.
This place saw me at my highest and at my lowest, and it's here that I've learned to navigate the complex world of owning a small business. ...The place where so many projects were birthed, where I first tried modern calligraphy and lettering, where I first ventured into watercolors and illustration, and where I first started thinking of myself as a professional artist and small business owner. I love this little room and what it meant for me and implicitly, for our little family!

 image by Velvet Owl Photography

image by Velvet Owl Photography

 image by Velvet Owl Photography

image by Velvet Owl Photography

The cork board wall was one of my favorite features, and something that I recreated in my current space, as well. I love being able to pin on it inspirational pieces, torn magazine pages, things I might be working on at the moment, or little notes from the kids.
I happened to photograph how my husband and I installed it, so if you are interested in the process and how we went about getting it done, check out the blog next week for a feature.

 image by Velvet Owl Photography

image by Velvet Owl Photography

 image by Velvet Owl Photography

image by Velvet Owl Photography

In an effort to stay relevant in the industry, and out of curiosity and delight too (once I got the taste of it), I learned and taught myself new skills. It would be dishonest of me not to admit that a good part of the drive to learn new things was linked to getting a paycheck and making a living for our family.
I am an introvert, I am not a thrill seeker, and I am very happy in my comfort zone ...I have yet to take on something new without any fears, and fully believing it will turn into a smashing success :) So, anything that gets me motivated and pushes me forward, out of my comfort zone - I'll take it!

I am sure many are plagued with the fear of getting started, but what I learned is that most times that's all it takes. Getting started is half or more of the journey.

I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite classes that I took, while learning lettering, calligraphy, and watercolors. I'll update with a link to the feature, this coming week. I started adding them here, but this post is getting lengthier than I intended it, as it is :) 

 image by Velvet Owl Photography

image by Velvet Owl Photography

 image by Velvet Owl Photography

image by Velvet Owl Photography

Watercolors and gauche are two other mediums that I've fallen in love with, in my creative explorations. And sure enough, I have a few awesome and very affordable online classes to recommend for these, too ;)

 image by Velvet Owl Photography

image by Velvet Owl Photography

 image by Velvet Owl Photography

image by Velvet Owl Photography

 image by Velvet Owl Photography

image by Velvet Owl Photography

...And then, there is digital illustration. Oh, the possibilities!
I can completely blame my stumbling into that, on Paul :)
A couple of years ago, we went in to pick up a new desktop machine, and I walked out with the iMac - and an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil. Because "This is going to open up so many possibilities for you!" And indeed, the iPad Pro has been one of the best and most lucrative investments I made for the business, aside from education! I am thrilled he insisted I'd get it.
It's been part of my workflow on about every other project I've worked on since I got, and it will be part of every single one, as I wade into surface pattern design this year.

 image by Velvet Owl Photography

image by Velvet Owl Photography

 image by Velvet Owl Photography

image by Velvet Owl Photography

 image by Velvet Owl Photography

image by Velvet Owl Photography

 image by Velvet Owl Photography

image by Velvet Owl Photography

...About a year ago when I contacted Heidi of Velvet Owl Photography for updated head shots for the website, I didn't know I was going to move out soon. I am so glad that I decided to have the session in this little office.
With the move, this room is now a bedroom, with no sign of what is has been. I will forever treasure the memory of this little space as my little creative heaven.

 image by Velvet Owl Photography

image by Velvet Owl Photography

...This is our gift baby, the one that has my heart wrapped around his little finger. And also, one of the reasons I started to seriously consider a work space outside the house :)

 image by Velvet Owl Photography

image by Velvet Owl Photography

 image by Velvet Owl Photography

image by Velvet Owl Photography

I've been fascinated with the world of surface pattern design ever since I've became aware of it (thank you Sillshare!) I am so excited to take this world by storm this year, and completely immerse myself in learning all I can about it, in a comprehensive Surface Pattern Design Immersion Program, taught by Bonnie Christine. I am not taking this on without feeling anxious, but I fully trust it will be a smashing success! ;)

Keepsake boxes - treasure chests of the past

elena wilken

 “Take care of all your memories. For you cannot relive them.“ ~ Bob Dylan

....The Watercolor Daydream memory box, from the EW Couture keepsake boxes collection, with Mpix. Senior images courtesy of Nicole Eastman Photography. Thank you for the beautiful photographs Nicole!

...And because I'll never tire of the Storybook Illustration box, here are a few fresh snaps of it, too.

Custom Facebook Christmas and holiday Timeline covers

elena wilken

Happy first day of winter! :)
Here is a little collection of timeline cover templates that you can access as free downloads. Hope you enjoy them! Use them as a quick little thoughtful thank you gesture for clients and/or on your pages.

It's never a bad idea to surprise your clients with a personal, customized timeline cover. Show off some of the images you created during your minis or regular sessions together, these past couple of months. It will bring a smile, allow them to brag about their family portraits and about their photographer ;)

>>> To download the files, please click the preview image below. <<<

To view all other complementary Custom Facebook Timeline cover downloads in the EW Couture line, check out the Free EW Couture Template Downloads on ewcouture.com

Unless otherwise specified,
• The template files are layered Photoshop (.PSD) files,
• The files are compatible with Photoshop CS and higher, for Mac and PC. To make the files compatible with Photoshop Elements, check out this free resource - a free ungroup layers action for elements
• The templates are designed to be as simple as possible. Simply drop in your photos, change the text, and you’re done; however colors are editable whenever possible, should you choose to further customize the files.
• Text is fully editable - most of the fonts used with this set are free, names are supplied. the web addresses where you can download them are included in the layer naming convention in each of the files.
When paid fonts are used, the text is used as a color layer. If you wish to change the text, simply delete the layer and add your own text.

To customize the colors of the color layers and shape layers, simply double click on the color slider thumbnail to bring up the color picker.

////////////////////////////////////////////

AGREEMENT/TERMS OF USE

YOU MAY:
•1• Use these templates to create finished products for yourself or your photography clients. (Must be flattened jpgs, when in digital format). You can use these templates to create samples for your studio’s printed marketing materials, as well as for your studio’s online presence.
•2• Change colors, fonts, the position of the different layout elements (where the design permits) to meet the needs of your studio and pho- tography clients.

YOU MAY NOT:
•1• Re-distribute or sell these files/templates (as a whole or parts of them) by any means, for free or for a fee and pass them as your own. { When sharing a link, please share a link to the blog post, and not a direct link to the file.}
•2• Use elements from these templates in anything you are selling as a digital template.

////////////////////////////////////////////

© 2016 Elena Wilken / Elena Wilken P&GA

Mpix cards eye candy

elena wilken

I've been featuring regularly Christmas and holiday cards from this year's EW Couture Mpix collection, over on my @elenawilken.life.essays Instagram account, and plan to continue that. Hop over if you want to check out the posts or keep up with the eye candy.

 A few favorites from this year's Mpix designs.

A few favorites from this year's Mpix designs.

 ...Sparkly berry wreaths in silver, gold or red... customize your Mpix foil cards with either, or make a few smaller orders and enjoy all three foils!

...Sparkly berry wreaths in silver, gold or red... customize your Mpix foil cards with either, or make a few smaller orders and enjoy all three foils!

Accordion Minis - a perfect little gift

elena wilken

Have you ever found yourself stumped while trying to shop for a meaningful gift that makes a lasting impression, for mom, or grandma, or for an aunt? ...What do you get someone, when they maybe have most of their needs met and taken care of?

...Accordion mini albums! These little albums make for great gifts that are especially loved by moms and grandmas! A festive, pocket-sized photo book you can customize with your favorite images. They make for the perfect gift any time of the year, but during holidays these mini albums make for GREAT Christmas gifts and stocking stuffers for grandparents and family.

  Bird Melody - EW Couture/Elena Wilken design for Mpix.com.  The perfect gift – a festive pocket-sized photo book filled with your favorite photo memories from the year.  

Bird Melody - EW Couture/Elena Wilken design for Mpix.com. The perfect gift – a festive pocket-sized photo book filled with your favorite photo memories from the year.
 

  Bluebird Couple - EW Couture/Elena Wilken design for Mpix.com.  The perfect gift – a festive pocket-sized photo book filled with your favorite photo memories from the year.

Bluebird Couple - EW Couture/Elena Wilken design for Mpix.com. The perfect gift – a festive pocket-sized photo book filled with your favorite photo memories from the year.

  Bluebird Couple - EW Couture/Elena Wilken design for Mpix.com.  The perfect gift – a festive pocket-sized photo book filled with your favorite photo memories from the year.

Bluebird Couple - EW Couture/Elena Wilken design for Mpix.com. The perfect gift – a festive pocket-sized photo book filled with your favorite photo memories from the year.

Watercolors - from brush strokes to greeting cards

elena wilken

Hand-drawn, hand-made, watercolors - are a hot trend across industries in 2016, especially in gifts and all things stationary. The Christmas and holiday cards and custom photo gifts I've created for Mpix.com's EW Couture collection, reflect that trend and my love affair with watercolor and hand lettering. ...And song birds :)

  Singing Birds  - 5x7 EW Couture/Elena Wilken Christmas greeting card for Mpix.com

Singing Birds - 5x7 EW Couture/Elena Wilken Christmas greeting card for Mpix.com

  Serene Tune  - 4x8 EW Couture/Elena Wilken Christmas greeting card for Mpix.com

Serene Tune - 4x8 EW Couture/Elena Wilken Christmas greeting card for Mpix.com

  Watercolor Birds  - 5x7 EW Couture/Elena Wilken Christmas greeting card for Mpix.com

Watercolor Birds - 5x7 EW Couture/Elena Wilken Christmas greeting card for Mpix.com

Keepsakes, stories, hope and bridges...

elena wilken

This is my absolute favorite memory box from the collection I've designed and licensed with Mpix, thus far. There is something special and unique about each one, but the Storybook Illustration memory box is the closest to my heart.
It reminds me of my growing up and of my grandma. ...It's happy, bright and exuberant but classy and elegant at the same time, holding oh so many stories and memories between its covers.
...A perfect gift for old and young souls alike.
I love this thought from Mattie Stepanek, and it's so fitting, so I'll share it: "Keep all special thoughts and memories for lifetimes to come. Share these keepsakes with others to inspire hope and build from the past, which can bridge to the future."

Fresh Beggining - a box for memories and soulful treasures

elena wilken

Welcome all the new beginnings...and celebrate them 💌
"One of the best ways to make yourself happy in the present is to recall happy times from the past. Photos are a great memory-prompt, and because we tend to take photos of happy occasions, they weight our memories to the good." ~ Gretchen Rubin ••• Fresh Beginning Mpix keepsake box, a fun and perfect custom gift.

Special thanks to N-E Photography for the use of the beautiful photographs showcased on the Fresh Beginning custom photo box. /// An EW Couture Collection design for Mpix.