Watercolor Poetry: A Mindful Approach to Illustrating and Lettering Nature Poetry | Yonina De Vries | Skillshare

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Watercolor Poetry: A Mindful Approach to Illustrating and Lettering Nature Poetry

teacher avatar Yonina De Vries, Former closet creative

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

13 Lessons (1h 6m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. The Project

    • 3. Materials

    • 4. Sketching the Tree Outline

    • 5. Creating the Color Palette

    • 6. Watercolor Techniques: Wet vs

    • 7. Painting the Tree Foliage

    • 8. Painting the Trunk, Branches and Ground

    • 9. Adding Details to the Tree

    • 10. Working With Your Own Handwriting

    • 11. Lettering The Poem

    • 12. Final Thoughts

    • 13. Bonus Lesson Mushrooms by Sylvia Plath

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About This Class


In this beginner-friendly class, we will dive into the world of nature poetry and art to create a unique piece with a watercolor illustration and a hand-lettered nature poem.

For the class, I will use Mary Oliver's poem "When I am among the trees" as inspiration, and a reference photo to paint a watercolor tree.

I will take you through all the steps of painting a loose oak tree with basic watercolor supplies and hand-lettering the poem in the background with just a simple black ink pen, using your own handwriting as a starting point.




The focus of this class is on getting inspired by beautiful words and images of nature, mindfully exploring your creativity and most of all enjoying the process! No need to have a lot of supplies, or experience with painting or lettering. No pressure to create a perfect piece, just be present, relax and embrace the experience!

In the bonus lesson, I will show you how I create a similar piece, based on the classic poem "Mushrooms" by Sylvia Plath.


Materials needed:

  • Watercolor paints in pans or tubes. Colors for the tree: Sap green, Pale yellow or Lemon yellow, Payne’s grey, Burnt umber, Ultramarine, Yellow ochre. Colors for the mushroom: Alizarin crimson, Payne's grey, Sap green, Burnt umber (plus any opaque white such as gouache or poster paint)
  • Round watercolor brushes: a large one (appr. size 10) and two smaller ones (appr. sizes 4 and 2)
  • Watercolor paper: Cold pressed, 140 lbs/300 gsm, 9x12 inches
  • A sheet of lined paper and/or the handwriting worksheet (resources tab)
  • Waterproof black ink pen, such as Sakura Pigma Micron (appr. 0.04 size)
  • Palette, water and paper towel
  • Pencil, eraser and ruler
  • The poem and reference photo from the resources tab

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Yonina De Vries

Former closet creative


Hi there!

My name is Yonina De Vries. I’m a teacher and educator who loves helping people to (re)connect with their creativity.

Like many, I used to think that making art was something only others could do. In fact, I used to apologize for my poor drawing skills whenever one of my lessons required me to draw any kind of shape or object!

It wasn’t until I discovered how healing and freeing it can be to make art, that I found the courage to start exploring my creativity. I began very hesitantly with some pencils and a mandala coloring book, as a way to deal with stress. Now, I work with watercolor, ink and gouache to make pieces that are meaningful and uplifting to me.

On Skillshare, I hope to inspire you to put your inner critic aside, that voice ... See full profile

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1. Introduction : Welcome. In this class we're going to dive into the world of watercolor and poetry to create a unique piece with a watercolor illustration and a hand letter nature poem. My name is Yonina. I'm a teacher and self-taught artist. I work mainly with watercolor, ink and gouache. For me, the natural world is a source of finding calm, joy, and inspiration. I also often work with lettering to create pieces that are meaningful and uplifting to me. I think both poetry and art about the natural world really invite us to slow down, to reflect, find joy in the present moment. Maybe even be more mindful of ourselves, our lives, our surroundings. With this class, I really want to tap into that sense of being mindful and encourage you to be present, to go along with the process, and let go of the need for it to turn out perfect. This class is great for beginners, if you don't have a lot of experience with watercolor or lettering, or really for anyone who is interested in exploring this combination of poetry and watercolor, regardless of where you are in your creative journey. I will take you through a step-by-step process of painting a loose watercolor tree and lettering a poem in the background. We'll talk about mixing colors, sketching, painting techniques, developing your handwriting, and everything else you will need to create your piece. I've also included a bonus lesson in which I show you how to create a similar piece, based on the poem "Mushrooms" by Sylvia Plath. If there's anything I would like you to take away from this class, it's to get inspired by beautiful words and images of nature. Mindfully explore your creativity, embrace imperfections, and most of all enjoy the process. If this sounds like something for you, please join me in this class. I'm excited to see you there. 2. The Project : For the class project, I'm going to work with the poetry of Mary Oliver, who I think is one of the most inspiring nature poets of this past century. I've selected her poem When I am Among The Trees because it's such a beautiful reminder of the healing power of nature, especially trees and forests and our humanness, and how we can sometimes struggle with ourselves. As you can see, a few kinds of trees are mentioned in the poem, and I've chosen to paint an oak tree for our illustration, for which you will work with a reference photo. I think oak trees are just so characteristic. They will make a great subject for our illustration. As a side note, you can of course use any other nature poem or reference photo of your choice, and then follow along with the steps in this class. I've included a selection of nature poems in the Resources tab, so you may want to check that out. We will start with the steps of painting a loose watercolor oak tree using the reference photo. Then we will letter Mary Oliver's poem using our own handwriting as a basis. So let's get started. 3. Materials: Let's get started by going over the materials that you'll need for this project. Right from the start I want to say that this project can be done with basic supplies, basic materials. It's really more about using your creativity and just using what's available to you rather than having the right kind of brush or the right kind of paint. Having set that for the watercolor illustration, you'll need paint. I'm working with a Winsor and Newton Cotman pen set, their basic pen set here. I've just replaced the white that comes with this set with Payne's gray, which is one of the colors that we will need. I also like to use their tubes, especially when I want to mix a bit more of a color. It can be easier to work with tubes than with pens. But any student grade watercolor paints similar to this is fine to work with. As far as paper goes, make sure that you have watercolor paper that is 140 lbs or 300 grams cold pressed. You also want to make sure that it's approximately the same size as I have, which is nine inches by 12 inches. That would make lettering the poem much easier than if you use something that's much smaller or much bigger than this. Again, any brand similar to this will work fine. As for brushes, you'll need to have round watercolor brushes. They can be of any brand. In fact, I'm using two brushes of a generic brand here. You'll need one bigger one approximately size 10 and two smaller ones. I'm working with a size four and a size two here. Anything around these sizes is fine. These are the brushes. Just a note, for the watercolor paper, just make sure that you have a couple of pieces of scrap paper ready just to test colors or test some of the techniques that we'll be going over in this class. Obviously to paint with watercolor, you will need water. I always have at least two jars ready so that I don't have to get up once I start painting. You will need paper towels, you will need pellets. Any kind of plastic pellets will work, or even a dinner plate or a saucer for that matter. Then for lettering the poem and for sketching as well, you will need a pencil and an eraser. I like to work with a kneadable eraser here, but any kind of eraser is fine. You will need a ruler as well and very important you'll need to work with a black ink pen that is waterproof, preferably archival ink. I'm working with a Pigma Micron 0.04 here which is great. But anything similar to this can be used for our project. Then it would be great if you have either a regular sheet of lined paper ready or you can go to the resources section of this class and print out the lettering with your own handwriting worksheet so that you can use this for practicing handwriting before we start lettering our poem. This will be all we need for the class. Just make sure that you head over to the resources section where I have the reference photo, where I have the poem that we're going to use for this project. Let's get started. 4. Sketching the Tree Outline: In this lesson, we're going to sketch the outline of the tree. The key to doing this is simplifying the shapes as much as possible. I'm going to show you exactly how I do that with the reference photo. Keep in mind that this is going to be a simple sketch, a basic outline, so don't overthink it. As you can see, I've pulled up the reference photo and at first glance, it may look that this is quite a complicated shape, but we can really make it easy. Starting from the trunk, I see on the left side that this is actually a curve line here. Then similar on the right side, but just a little bit less regular, little bit more wonky. Then for the foliage, I can see three main areas of foliage, and I'm just going to loosely indicate these here. There's this area here in the foreground, in the front. I'm just going to loosely make an outline here and then an area as well at the top. So doing the same thing here and then the last area extending all the way to the left side. Just a very loose outline. Now that we have our shapes, let's transfer this sketch to paper. Please keep in mind that when you start sketching, make sure that your pencil lines are light. The reason for this is that once you paint over a pencil line with watercolor, it can't be erased and it will stay visible. So make sure you just sketch lightly, probably lighter than I am doing, but I just want to make sure that you can see what I'm doing. The first thing that I'm going to do here and that really helps me a lot is sketching a very general guide of the size that I want my tree to be. I always find this very helpful when I went to sketch an object from a reference photo on paper, just to help me not to make the object way too big or way too small. This is really a rough indication, a rough guide. As you can see, I left a bit more space here at the bottom than at the top. That's just because below the tree trunk, we're going to paint some of the ground. So I want to have a bit more space here. I just have a very general guide here and then I'm going to start sketching the tree. I'm going to start here with a tree trunk and on the left side, we saw a curved line. I'm going to sketch that curve line here. On the right side, I'm starting here a little bit higher with the base of the tree branch and then just going down in a curved line as well, but just a little less regular than on the left side. Here we have our tree trunk. Then the three shapes or the three areas of fold lesion, just going to loosely sketch or indicate them here. Starting with the first one here on the foreground. I'm just going to go around here. Then it goes up and then maybe a little bit less high because we have the top part as well. Then going all the way around to the left side and then coming around here. Then the top part, I'm just going to loosely again indicate this here. Then the last part that extends all the way to the left. I can see that already going outside of my guide, but that's okay, nothing to worry about. Here I have a very loose indication of the shape on the left side. I also showed you that there are a couple of bigger gaps in the foliage. I just want to indicate them here as well so that once I start my painting, I'm making sure that I keep this area whites. One here and then there's one here on the right side. Then a bit of a smaller one, but still here on the left side. Here we have a very loose outline or sketch of our tree. Now that we have our outline down, let's take a look at paints, colors that we're going to use, and the techniques that we can use to help us with painting our tree. 5. Creating the Color Palette: Now that we have our outline down, let's take a look at the colors that we want to use for our painting. As you can see from the reference photo, we want to mix up a couple of shades of green, a dark cool brown for the trunk, and some warm, deep yellow for the ground. Let's get your paints out. Have a piece of paper ready and practice mixing with me. Mixing the colors for our palettes. The first color I want to mix is a very yellow, bright green. I'm going to mix that by taking sap green, maybe a bit more, and then add a pale yellow to that, or you could use lemon yellow if you don't have pale yellow. This creates a beautiful, bright, yellowish or yellow green. This is our first color. Then I would want to mix a green that is much darker and cooler. I'm going to start off with sap green here again but instead of mixing that with pale yellow, I'm going to mix it with a bit of Payne's gray. You can see that it makes for a very cool dark green, which is excellent for these darker areas. Then on the right side, I said I wanted to mix a brownish green, so I'm going to take the same mixture and then adding a bit of brown, not too much of it, burnt umber to this mixture or maybe just a little bit more to create a brownish green or greenish brown depending on how you look at it. This we will use for some of the parts on the right side of the tree. Then for the brightest parts, I want to use pale yellow just as it is and again, instead of pale yellow, it's fine to use lemon yellow or any similar shade. That goes really for any of the colors that I'm using here, anything similar to that will work fine. Pale yellow here and then for the tree trunk, I want to mix up a dark cool brown. I'm going to start off with burnt umber and to burnt umber, I'm going to add a bit of ultramarine, which will make it a much darker, cooler shade of brown as you can see. This is the color I want to use for the trunk and the branches. Then a bit of a darker version of this for the darkest parts. To do this, I'm just simply going to add a bit of Payne's gray. Maybe that's a lot. So some brown to add. I don't think this is quite dark enough yet. Just going in with a bit of Payne's gray. This is the color I'm looking for. This is a very dark brownish gray that I want to use for the darkest parts of the trunk and the branches. Then for the ground, I want to use yellow ocher coloring in the lines, never been my strongest point. Then for the blades of grass and some of the shadowy areas here, I want to mix this yellow ocher again with a bit of Payne's gray, and you will see that becomes a bit greenish as well. A Payne's gray is a bluish gray and I think this will work well for the some of the details in the darker areas in the ground. Here we have the color palettes. In the next lesson, we're going to have a look at some of the techniques that we will be using to paint the tree. 6. Watercolor Techniques: Wet vs: Let's take a look at the basic techniques for painting with watercolor and the goal here really is to see how they can work for us, making the process easier especially when painting our tree so have a piece of paper ready and practice with me. Techniques for painting with watercolor generally are about controlling the amount of water that you use both on the paper and in the paint on the brush to get the effect that you want. There are three basic ways or techniques of doing this: there is wet on wet, wet on dry, and dry on dry or dry brushing. With wet on wet, what you do is you wet the paper and I'm going to show you that here. I'm going to wet a square here on the paper with clean water and then I'm going to paint with wet paint. Wet paint means paint that is diluted with enough water as you can see here. What you see happening here is when I put the paint here on the square or in the square, it wants to bloom out. It wants to go where the water goes. As you can see, this creates a blurry line. This is really good for creating blurry lines or getting that misty effect or soft smooth blends when you're working with different colors. For example if I add another color here, just make sure that my paint is diluted enough. You see that it really blends beautifully and it creates like a really nice soft effect. You will see or you see that the paint wants to go where the water is, so you do have less control with this technique. Then there is wet on dry. This is where you use dry paper and paint that is wet just like when you do with wet on wet technique. I'm going to go in here with this color. As you see, it creates beautiful smooth lines. This is great for when you want to create smoother lines, cleaner or sharper edges for example when you're working on details in a painting. When I add for example another color here, you will see that they bleed into each other but they don't blend as smoothly as they would do when using wet on wet. Then finally, there is dry brushing or dry on dry technique. This is where you use dry paper and paint that is also not much diluted. Now, obviously when you work with watercolor you always need some water to work with but here this should be really controlled. I'm going to use paint that also does not have too much water in it, so it's not too diluted and then I want to absorb any extra moisture that may be in the page or on the brush. Then I'm going to go with the side of the brush. I'm going lightly dance or scumble across the paper. You can see that this creates some very interesting beautiful textured effect. Here you create lines that are broken rather than smooth. This is great for painting things that have texture such as foliage or tree bark, grass or sand or things like that. The texture of the paper here also really helps to bring out that effect that we're looking for. I'm going to show you the same thing with the other paint, the other color. I'm going to load my brush up with paint that doesn't have too much water in it then using a paper towel to absorb any excess water or moisture that there may be and then with the side of the brush I'm going to go lightly across the paper to create the textured effect. For our painting, we will be mainly using the dry on dry or dry brushing technique to easily paint the foliage and other parts of our painting. We'll also be using some of the wet on dry technique for some of the details. Just to recap a few tips here that you've been seeing me do just now, make sure that you have a paper towel ready, then make sure that you use paint that is not too diluted, does not have too much water in it. Then use that towel to absorb any excess moisture that there may be, then using the side of the brush really. What will help you here is holding the brush sideways like this. You will want to use the side of the brush rather than the tip. You're going to dance or scumble lightly across the paper making sure not to use too much pressure. We're not dabbing here, we're really lightly moving the side of the brush. This is really a great technique for creating that natural texture. The key takeaway here is not that it's necessary to have perfect mastery of watercolor techniques in order to create something beautiful but they can really help you to do something with more ease than you may have thought was possible. I recommend that you practice a bit, just familiarize yourself with these techniques especially the dry brushing technique and then let's move on to painting our tree. 7. Painting the Tree Foliage: Here, we are ready to start painting the first part of our tree, which is foliage. I'm working with a bigger brush here. I'm working with a size 10 brush. You can see that I've prepared some of the paint, the colors that I want to use for the foliage. Make sure that you have enough paint and check that it's not too wet. A rule of thumb here is to make just a bit more than you think you need. Running out of paint before you finish can be really frustrating. Here, we're going to paint in layers, working from light to dark. This means that I'm going to lay down the bright green first in all of the foliage areas. Then when this is still a bit wet, adding the darker green in some parts and the brownish-green as well. This creates a much more natural layered effect than if I would just paint different areas in different colors. Obviously, you can pick at the reference photo whenever you need to, or just make it your own. Remember just to leave a bit of white space where we've indicated the gaps and just lightly paint the areas where the foliage is a bit sparser. I'm going to go in and paint the first layer here. I'm going to load up my brush here. Just absorbing any extra moisture there maybe, just testing it out on this piece of paper. Then I'm going to start with the first area here. You can see that I'm really painting this very loosely. There is really no need to either rush it or overthink where you want to put down the paint. This is a bit sparser here. Just let the technique work for you and just put down the paint where it naturally wants to go. Here, just a bit of more water. I'm working in a very dry environment here, so my paint tends to dry up rather quickly. Going in here, the second area. I'm going to put down a bit more paint here in the middle as foliage is a bit denser here. Then moving on to the left part. Now, I'm going to go in with the darker green for some of the shaded areas. Again, loading up my brush with the darker green, just absorbing the extra moisture, testing it out. There's a bit more water in it than I'd like. So now, I'm going to go in here and I'm going to focus really on this top area here, which is darker than the other areas. Again, as you can see, I'm doing this really very loosely, I'm not really working in any linear fashion. Just going ahead with it and seeing or deciding really in the moments where I want to put down my paint. A bit over here. I think that's enough for this color. Now, finally, just adding a bit of them brownish-green. Loading that up here, testing it out. There's a stray hair and here. Then going in, there is a little bit more moisture than I'd like. Let me dab it here again and then just going in these areas on the right side. We're done here with this first part. I'm going to leave it at that. Later on, we're going to add some yellow highlights and maybe some details to really help make this painting or illustration vibrant. But I'm going to leave this to dry. Then we're going to move on to painting the trunk and the branches. 8. Painting the Trunk, Branches and Ground: Now we're going to paint the tree trunk, the branches and the ground as well. For the tree trunk and the branches, I'm working with the two smaller sizes, a size 4 and the size 2 that I have here. For the tree trunk probably going to work with a number 4 and then the smallest one for the branches. Again, check your paint, make sure that it's not too watery. We still want a bit of that textured broken line effect. Maybe not as much as with the foliage, but still a bit. I'm going to start with the top of the tree trunk here. I'm working with my number 4 brush and just making sure that the paint is not too watery here. Then I'm going to carefully go in and start here at the top, and carefully paint it a bit around the foliage, making sure to still leave some whites pace. Then I also want to add some brown between the leaves of the lowest parts of the foliage just to make it look like the tree trunk disappears in the foliage. Now, I'm going to paint the rest of the tree trunk in a similar manner. Just making sure that I don't use too much pressure, leave some white space. Just went a bit outside of the line here, but that's okay. I'm going to take the darker shade of brown and add that shade to the top, the middle, and the right part. As you can see that that's where the darker parts to shadowy parts are. Just making sure still to leave some white space. As you can see, I'm not really using a lot of pressure still. This is the basis of our tree trunk. We're going to add a few details later on. Now, I'm just going to go in with a clean, wet brush and extend the lowest part of the trunk as a basis for the ground that we're going to paint. This is for the tree trunk. Now, let's paint the branches. For the branches, I'm going to use a darker shade of brown and the smallest brush that I have. As you can see in the reference photo, there're quite a few branches and like a lot of smaller twigs. I'm not going to paint all of these. I'm just going to paint very loosely the bigger ones that I see. Again, I don't want my paint to be too wet. I'm just going to check that here. Then I'm just going to start here on the left side with the bigger branch that I see going here. Then just making it a bit bigger. It's a bit of an irregular shape as well. This would be the first one here. Then on the top I also see a few bigger branches so I'm going to go in here. Then I see one going here, and then one here, and then here as well. On the right side, I won't say left side, right side, I can see one coming out from the foliage here then twisting on itself and going down here. As you can see again, I'm doing this, I'm not putting a lot of pressure. I'm really doing this very loosely just really to create the effect that we're looking for. Here especially on the right side of the tree in the photo you can see a lot of little twigs, smaller branches. I'm really going to just go in and paint bigger one that I'm seeing here. Also twist it here, so painting that here and then maybe one that I see coming out here, maybe adding a few tiny tweaks coming out from the side of that, but that's really it. These are the branches that I wanted to add to the painting. Now for the ground, and you can see that I've just quickly mixed up the colors that I want to use for that while the branches were drying. I want to use my number 10 brush, but you can use a smaller brush if you're more comfortable with that. Again, I don't want my paint to be too wet. I still want a bit of the textured effect so I'm going to load up my brush here with yellow ocher absorbing again, if there's any extra moisture in here. I just want to really loosely paint part of the ground. I want this to be a bit wider than our illustration of the tree, our painting of the tree. I'm just going to start here and then just really loosely in the same manner really, maybe a bit more paint. Then just going in with a bit of the darker color over here. Just adding that to the top part here. I'm going to leave it at that for now. Really the tendency at this point can be to keep adding paint to different areas. Wanting it to be perfect adding something here, adding something there, and then not really knowing when to stop. I'm absolutely guilty of that myself, but I really want to ask you to just put it aside for now, leave it to dry for a while. Then we're going to come back with a pair of fresh eyes, a fresh look. Then we're going to see where we want to add some details to really give our illustration our painting that bit of extra spark. Leave it aside for now. Then in the next lesson we're going to add some details. 9. Adding Details to the Tree: In this lesson we're going to add some details to the tree where needed to really make our illustration or painting come alive, and maybe fix up some of the things that were not too happy with. I'm going to use the smaller brushes for this. I want to look first at the foliage, see maybe if I can add to it. I think especially around the gaps, I think I've left too much white space. Maybe add a bit here around the tree trunk. Then I also want to add some yellow highlights, and maybe some low lights like to the shadowy areas. Both of the tree foliage and the tree trunk, and then finally I want to fix up the ground here. I think I may have used paint that's a bit too wet, I'm not really happy with how it looks. The colors haven't really blended. I want to add a bit to the color here, add some contrast and make sure that my colors blend well. Then finally add some blades of grass or wheat that you can see in the photo. First thing, I'm using my size 4 brush for this. I'm just going to add a bit to the foliage, firstly around the gaps. Because I think I've left a bit too much white space there, I'm just going to add a bit here. Again, the key here really is not to overdo it. Now I want to go in with my yellow and add some highlights to the brightest areas here. Now, I also want to add some low lights to the darkest parts of the foliage. I'm going again to use my smallest brush, and then use the dark brown. Just to add, for example, here. Just to add that little extra depth to really make the painting or illustration come alive. Just adding a bit here. Now I'm going to do the same thing with a tree trunk and then I'm going to go in with my darkest brown here. Just adding like some extra dark highlights here to the middle and the right parts, and especially here also around the top to really get that contrast that's going to make our painting vibrant. Here, and then what I also want to do, I want to make sure that these two areas or these two colors blend. It's going to go in with a clean brush with a bit of water and just blend this a bit, making sure to still keep a bit of that white space that I left there when I painted the trunk. One thing that you can do to just add that extra bit of contrast to the tree trunk is taking your smallest brush with the darkest of brown, and then just making a very tiny broken outline here to the side of the tree trunk. Make sure that this is a broken line, really not a continuous bigger line that would give a cartoonish effect. But if you stipple, if you will along the side here it will really just add that extra bit of contrast to the tree trunk. Now the last thing I want to do here is fix up this area, the ground here. I'm going to do that by just adding extra color here, and then I also want to make sure that I blend these colors well. First I'm going to go in with the brown here. At this point I'm not really using very dry paint anymore, I'm using more of a wet on dry technique rather than the dry brushing. Adding also a little bit of the darker shade here. Okay. I'd also want to add a few blades of grass or blades of wheat. I'm just going to wait a few minutes until this is dry, because if I add the blades while this is still wet I won't really get those sharp crisp lines that I want for this. I'm just going to leave, this part is dry and I'm just going to add the last detail here. I'm going to use the shade, and I'm using my smallest brush here really to get these really light lines. I'm just going to add a few blades of wheat or grass that you see here. I'm not going to all of them like really straight because that's not how they grow either. Maybe some a bit longer, taller, some a bit shorter. Then I'm just going to add some tiny dots on the side just to get like that wheat effect that you see in the photo. At this point I would say my painting is finished. All it really needs are Mary Oliver's beautiful words. Let's work on hand-lettering and lettering the poem in the next lessons. 10. Working With Your Own Handwriting: For the lettering the poem, we're going to work organically with our own handwriting rather than use a stylized form of lettering. Also here, you're going to be working from where you are working with your creativity rather than trying to make something perfect. This is great for getting started with hand lettering. I think it will just give our poem that natural, easy look that just fits with our illustration. To do this, we're going to observe and explore two ways that we naturally write and see just where we can improve and just give it that bit of extra. The focus here is on consistency rather than having a specific style. When I talk about consistency, I want you to keep in mind three things, which are slant, size, and space. Now, with slant, I mean how straight your handwriting is, or maybe it leans a bit to the right or left. Here on my first example, you can see that I wrote the sentence pretty straight. In the second example, it has a bit of a slant to the right. Now, it doesn't really matter whether you want to write straight or whether you want to have a bit of a slant there. What's important here is that it's consistent. For the last example, you can see that it's not very consistent. Some letters are straight while some are leaning to the right. The first thing is your consistency in slant. Then the second thing, consistency in size. In the first example, you can see here that my letters are pretty big, but they are consistently big. In the second example, they are a bit smaller. But again here all of the letters are roughly around the same size. Now, in the last example that I wrote here, you can see that there is some inconsistency or variation in the size of the letters that I wrote here. Again, when it comes to size, whether you write larger or smaller letters, try to be consistent here. Then the last thing is space, which refers to the amount of space you leave between your letters. Or maybe they're quite close together. For example, in the first sentence that I wrote here, here my letters are quite close together. Then in the second example, you can see that there is much more space between them. Again here, it doesn't really matter which style you want to use or which style you prefer, or even what's easier for you, but just make sure that it's consistent. For example, the last sentence that I wrote here, you can see that some letters are closer together, while for other ones there is more space between them. Consistency really is the key. Now, let's look at our own handwriting with a worksheet or any sheet of line paper if that works better for you. Most people write in more than one style. For example, a looser style for when we write quickly or something that is just for our own use, like a journal entry or a quick note. Now, for me, that kind of handwriting looks like this. You can see that it's quite loose, maybe a bit like scripts style letters, but it's not very regular or consistent. For example, the slant or the connections between the letters. Then we often have a neater style. For example, when we want to make sure that it's readable, like a message for someone or a form that we fill in. When I write this way, my letters are more rounded. They're separate instead of connected and they're a bit more regular, a bit more like printed style letters. Now we can use this as a starting point to see where we can make each version of our handwriting just a bit better or more beautiful keeping in mind the consistency I talked about earlier. For example, here I don't want to write in a similar loose way, but I think it'll look better if I make it a bit more like cursive handwriting. I'm going to try to connect all the letters, keep a bit of slant, and then maybe add some small curls or swashes, for example, to the s, the l, and the h, and then maybe do something with the shape of the r and the t. I'm going to try that now. Then for the other type of handwriting, I'm going to try to make it even more rounded and regular, keeping all letters separate, maybe a bit closer together. Then I will want to practice both styles a few more times just to see what works for me and until I'm comfortable with it. Of course, you can practice this as many times as you want to. Observing this, I feel more drawn to the first kind of handwriting to work with for the poem. The loose style feels like a better fit, so I'm going to go with that. I want to encourage you to take some time to explore two of your handwriting styles, develop them, and finally see which style resonates most with you so you can use that for lettering the poem in the next lesson. 11. Lettering The Poem: In this lesson, we're going to work on the last step in our projects, lettering the poem. As you can see, I've prepared a grid with lines around our illustration. You'll want to sketch a rectangle of 12 by 25 centimeters, and within that rectangle, make 15 lines with eight millimeters space between them. So for lettering the poem, you will need about these 15 lines. This may depend a bit on the size of your writing, but it should roughly fit, and we're going to sketch it out first with pencil before inking with a black pen. Before you start with this, just make sure to erase any previous pencil lines, and also here, sketch your pencil lines very light because you want to be able to erase this when the project is finished. Once you have your lines down, very lightly sketch the poem. The goal here is to see roughly how it fits around our illustration, and this can be a bit tricky, but it's okay to make some adjustments. For example, leaving a bit more space at the end or at the beginning of a line, it doesn't have to line up perfectly. These imperfections often just add to the beauty of a piece. You also may not need all the lines, which is also fine in that case, simply erase the last line or two. I'm going to sketch the poem here. Something that you also may run into is that you finish halfway through the last line, and if that happens to you, you could just try to stretch out the last line a little bit, and then maybe here add the poet's name to fill the last line, or you could just go with it and leave it at that. When you feel satisfied, go in with black ink to letter the poem. There we are, our piece is ready. 12. Final Thoughts: Thank you so much for taking this class with me. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did, that you got something out of it and that it spark your creativity. A special thanks to my cat who loves messing with my art. She was quietly observing me the whole time, then decided to spill water on my project, a lot of water. We're still working things out between us. Don't forget to upload your project or projects, I would love to see what you come up with. Also, don't hesitate to let me know how it went for you or ask me any question you may have in the discussion section. Keep in touch. 13. Bonus Lesson Mushrooms by Sylvia Plath: Welcome to the bonus lesson. Here we're going to create a similar piece, breaking it up in the same steps we use for our tree. What were the steps? Let's recap for a minute. We started by sketching a simple outline and then we selected the colors. We took a look at painting techniques and chose to write one for our kind of illustration. Then we started to paint the illustration part by part. Finally, we added some details to make the illustration vibrant. Then we started working with our handwriting. First, we explored the handwriting styles that we have and chose the one that we wanted to use for our poem. Finally, we lettered the poem. Let's start with our mushroom, following this exact same process. The poem that we'll be using here is by Sylvia Plath, and it really has beautiful imagery of mushrooms emerging. The poem metaphorically also refers to the struggles of women, so that's also something to reflect on as well. Here is our reference photo too. Just as with the tree, I'm not going to paint an illustration that's an accurate representation of the photo, but I'm just going to use it as a general guide. Let's get started. For the mushroom, we're going to work with exactly the same materials that we've used for our tree. The only thing extra that you need is some kind of opaque white to paint the dots on the mushroom. I'm using white gloss here, but any kind of opaque white would work such as poster paint or if in a pinch, you could even use correction fluid for this. Obviously the colors are going to be a bit different, so this is my color palettes. I'm going to use deeper, darker colors than we actually see in the reference photo. As I said, I'm using the reference photo just as a general guide for shape and some details. The palette that you see here can be found in the class resources as well. I have my sketch ready and I'm going to start painting the parts of the mushroom. For the cap, and I'm going to use a bigger brush and I'm going to work wet on wet to blend red with purple around the edges. Make sure to have a good amount of paint ready. Make sure that there's enough pigment in there to create that deep color. You can add more while painting if needed. With a small piece of paper towel or a Q-tip, we're going to lift some of the paint here in the top area to create a lighter area on the top there. Then we're going to add in a few dark spots with Payne's gray. Now that this is dry, I'm going to paint the stem of the mushroom. I'm going to do this with a number 4 brush. I'm also using the wet on wet technique. I'm going to start out with a very diluted color, then add a bit of a darker shade of the same color to the right side of the stem and under the cap. When this is dry, I'm also going to add a few tiny lines with some diluted paints. For the ground, I am going to start with taking very dark Payne's gray and painting some dirt around the stem. Then I'm going to take some water and extend this. Then painting the rest of the ground with sap green and then blend these colors and maybe see if I need to add some pigments. Again, we're going to leave this to completely dry and then we're going to work on some details. Now I'm ready to start adding some details, so I'm going to see where I can add some color or contrast to the cap and the stem if that's needed. Then I'm going to see if I can add a bit of diluted white to the center of this light area. Then I'm going to make a thin broken outline with Payne's gray using a very small brush around the cap and the stem. Then finally, I'm going to paint the white dots on the cap. I'm not going to make them very regular, and then finally maybe adding some gray on some of the dots. Okay, that's it. I'm going to call this finished. As you can see, I've sketched the lines and the poem, and I'm now going to letter this with my black pen. This rectangle here is a bit more narrow, 22 by 12 centimeters, because this illustration takes up a bit less space than the tree did. Also here there are 15 lines with eight millimeter space between them. As for lettering, I want to use also my loose connected style of handwriting, but this time without slant and maybe a bit smaller like the second example that you see here. Here our second piece is all done.