City Guide | Seattle, Washington

Greetings from my office in southern, California! I'm back home from a very full and wonderful fall #EverydayWatercolor book tour to bring you another city guide post from one of my tour stops! I kicked off the tour with Portland, Oregon where I spent a few days (make sure to check out that city guide post here). After classes and an amazing time in Portland, we drove ourselves up to Seattle. This city completely blew me away right from the beginning. We got there in mid-afternoon and went straight to Gas Works Park. OH MY GOSH!! As I said in the Portland post, the timing of our trip to the PNW was perfect for seeing color in the trees, but Seattle took it to the next level. We pulled up to the park and were welcomed by a parking lot covered in trees that had turned a deep red. All of them. Then made our way up the hill overlooking the bay and the skyline to yellow, and orange, and sea planes, and boats, and it was all too beautiful! I couldn't believe it. 

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From here we went to Ballard, a verrrry hip, waterfront neighborhood in Seattle close to Gas Works Park. This area has so much to offer. Coffee shops, bars, restaurants, cuteness. It's too good. We had a friend who lives in Seattle showing us around at this point, so she took us to Barnacle Bar, where we had a couple drinks and appetizers (amazing Negronis!), while we waited for our table (it was a Friday night - quite busy) at The Walrus and the Carpenter to open up. Such a well designed bar with real good beverages and snacks. Both of these places were incredible and I had oysters for the first time at The Walrus and the Carpenter! They were amazing, the whole experience at both of these spots was on point. Must go.

We stayed at The Roosevelt in downtown Seattle, which is very central to most everything. We had a car, so we would drive to other neighborhoods like Ballard, which made it super easy. We snagged some pretty amazing deals through my VIP Platinum Status membership on Orbitz for both the car and hotel room. So to stay at The Roosevelt, it can be quite pricey, but when you sign up for the VIP status through Orbitz, they give you access to crazy discounts on rooms, cars, flights, etc. Otherwise we'd be grabbing a Lyft of public transit around the city. After having quite a bit of travel under my belt, and living in Chicago for 7 years, the real taste and heart of the city isn't the downtown or touristy spots, it's in the neighborhoods! So, if you ever travel to Seattle, it's the same. I try to see at least 1 "touristy thing" per day in every new city I go to because...they're touristy for a reason! But beyond that, I like to explore the local haunts, bars, cafes, restaurants and scenic walks, etc. So, for our next day in the city, we made our way to Vif for breakfast. THIS PLACE. It's up in Fremont, which is near the Ballard side of things, and it's the most perfect, cozy, Scandinavian inspired food spot. I had an egg grain bowl with kraut and other fermented things with coffee and it was divine. We couldn't get over this place!

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Below are some more snaps from our day through the city!

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If you visit Seattle, it's incredibly touristy, but you MUST go to Pike Place Market! It's massive. You walk up to a stone road and a huge, mostly indoor market place on the water. Produce, fish and fish throwers, flowers, hot cider and cocoa (for the fall and winter), it's perfect. We walked through the entire place just to take in all the sights and sounds and smells. Definitely worth it with a coffee or beverage in hand!

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I had SO much fun teaching #monvoirworkshops in Seattle! We rented out a space in the Industrial District of Seattle called Within Sodo, and it was perfect! Had great natural light, and all the fun touches of being in an industrial, warehouse type space!

Some more restaurants and places we went to while we were in Seattle that are DEFINITELY worth checking out:

Essex: came here for drinks before eating pizza at the place next door (below). GREAT drinks and a really cute bar in Ballard.

Delancey: said pizza place right next door to Essex. THE PIZZA! I normally don't eat gluten or dairy (ha!), but you gotta live right? It was the right place and the right time too. Their pizza is amazing!

Frankie & Jo's: plant based ice cream that tastes like the real deal. 'Nuff said.

Capital Hill: verrry quaint and adorable neighborhood in Seattle that is definitely worth walking around in. Stop by the Starbucks Reserve Roastery just to see it, then walk around the corner to find better coffee. ha! It's cool inside though, but I am not a fan of Starbucks coffee. Also, Stateside in this 'hood is supposed to be a real good place to eat. We unfortunately didn't have time to hit this spot.

There's so much more that I would like to explore in this incredible city. We left after 3.5 days of exploring and eating the best food and I was already planning my next trip out! Can't wait to come back here! If you are a Seattle local or have been to some awesome spots in the city, comment below with your recommendations! I'm definitely going back and would love to hear what's good!

brush lettering how-to!

We LOVE when we have the chance to do a brush lettering project at Mon Voir! It is a wonderfully creative and relaxing art form. It shares the basic strokes of dip pen calligraphy, with the more loose and free feeling of using a paintbrush. Here's a brief overview of our brush lettering style and our go-to materials for different projects! We hope that you'll enjoy it as much as we do!

TOOLS

It's important to choose the right size paintbrush for the piece you are working on. We recommend using #princetonbrushes round brushes size 2 or 6, for smaller, more detailed projects. For larger projects, like poster-size quotes or signs, you'll want to use a larger brush (#princetonbrushes, size 16) to create more bold and thick letters. Round brushes are ideal for getting both thick and thin lines since they're a two-in-one style brush! 

Next, to achieve the whimsical look of both opaque and transparent strokes that are unique to brush lettering, our go-to ink is #winsorandnewton water color gouache. Trust us - you will not regret investing in quality materials once you see how much better the outcome of your artwork is!

BASIC STROKES

Brush Lettering - Downstrokes

DOWNSTROKES (thick lines) 

Like calligraphy, brush lettering consists of upstrokes and downstrokes, thin and thick lines. You want to make sure that the angles of your lines are consistent, as well as the amount of pressure you are applying. Your downstrokes will require more pressure to create a thicker line.

Brush Lettering - Upstrokes
Brush Lettering - Crossbar

UPSTROKES (thin lines) 

The upstrokes in your letters are your thin lines and should be applied with light pressure. It should feel like your hand is just gliding across the paper. Any crossbar strokes (like your t's, capital A's, etc.) will also be thin lines. 

LETTERS

Brush Lettering - ABC's
Brush Lettering - Example

Once you have your basic strokes down, you can start practicing letters! Start with lowercase, going through the entire alphabet to memorize what strokes make up each letter. Once you feel comfortable, move on to capitals!

Practice, Practice, Practice! 

Brush Lettering - Quote

Muscle memory is everything when it comes to brush lettering and calligraphy. Grab a pad of #legionpaper, turn on some relaxing music (or netflix ;)) and keep at it!! 

What (paper) dreams are made of

When it comes to art - it is SO important to invest in your practice and in your supplies! As many of you know, my love for @legionpaper runs deep. Their Stonehenge Aqua cold-pressed paper is my go to now for watercolor paper! It absorbs the pigment beautifully and you're still able to lift color...even the tricky ones without too much trouble. I seriously love it! You've got to get your hands on some - go to their SITE to see where they're sold online! We also have this paper in our new WATERCOLOR KITS with allllll of Jenna's favorite supplies. Make sure to sign up for our mailing list (on our homepage) in order to not miss when these are back in stock!! (VERY SOON!!!)

How-to: Mixing custom ink!

Ever wonder how to mix your own custom ink colors?! Maybe you were commissioned for an envelope addressing job for a bride, a custom calligraphy quote, or just curious about color matching for your own enjoyment...Well, we go your back! Read through the steps to see our entire process and you'll be mixing up custom colors in no time!

When creating a custom colored ink, our go-to is Winsor & Newton gouache mixed with water to create any color imaginable!  Some calligraphers also use Gum Arabic, which is a binding agent, to prevent the pigment and water from separating, but we keep it simple over here. Just a couple shakes here and there and the color is mixed! When you mix your first couple inks, it may be a little trickier to get the right consistency at first, but once you get the hang of it, it's definitely worth it to achieve a beautiful pigment that you and your potential clients will LOVE! 

First things first: supplies!

Winsor & Newton Gouache - Nothing compares to quality materials! Everything we do over here at Mon Voir is done with the highest quality supplies. Jenna has been using this brand for years and whether it's for watercolor or calligraphy ink, we use Designer/Proffessional level only! It may cost a little more up front, but TRUST US, you will be much more pleased with the results. You can find Winsor & Newton at your local art supply store, Amazon, or Blick!

Small Container/Jar - We recommend a 1.5 oz jar to allow for a good amount of ink that will last you a while. You can find sets of jars for a reasonable price on Amazon

Calligraphy Pen - We'll typically use the end of a calligraphy pen (NOT the nib) to stir the mixture. Then flip it around to test out the ink with a few basic strokes. If you're curious about allllll our preferred materials when it comes to calligraphy, check out this blog post!

Eye Dropper - This allows you to add a few drops at a time until you get the correct ratio of water to gouache! Again, you can find one of these on the always trusty Amazon.

Distilled water - Helps prevent the possibility of mold growth if you will be storing the ink.

LET'S GET TO MIXING!

STEP 1: You’ll squeeze out an amount of gouache that’s appropriate for your project. For a big project, like calligraphing envelopes, you should mix up a lot of gouache (we typically use about 1/2 of a 14 ml tube). 

STEP 2: Using your eye dropper, add about 3/4 distilled water to 1/4 gouache. 

STEP 3: Mix the water and gouache together with the end of your pen or paint brush. Continue to add water and/or gouache as needed until you get a mixture that is similar to the consistency of heavy cream.

STEP 4: Test out your mixture by dipping your calligraphy pen and practicing 3-4 basic strokes. If you notice your strokes seem a little thick or your nib is not releasing enough ink, try adding a few more drops of water. If your strokes are bubbly and translucent, try adding a bit more gouache!

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And that's it!! You can use this method to match a specific ink color to printed material, envelope colors, and MORE with a Pantone Matching System (pictured in the photo above on the right). It's a designer's dream being as customizable as possible with colors, so get on it!!

New Online Class with The Crafters Box!

THE TIME HAS COME!!

I'm so excited to bring you a new this new online class through The Crafters Box! If you don't know already, The Crafters Box is a monthly subscription program made for creatives. You can sign up for individual featured maker's classes, or a 3 month subscription, or more! It's SUCH a great idea for those of you wanting to get into something new and creative, but don't know where to start with supplies and classes. Picture signing up for an online class, or for a 3 month subscription, and having a perfectly curated box full of all the supplies you need for the class show up at your door! Beautiful classes like jewelry making, knitting, paper flowers, weaving and so much more! And now, my class, which covers my FAVORITE watercolor technique, WET ON WET, for a botanical watercolor class!! My class/box is for the month of June, so registration is now open until May 20th! Make sure to go here to sign up to receive your own box of class supplies and the online class! You'll also get to hear my story and a bit more on their maker podcast! Take a peek at the photos below to see what I cover in this class! So colorful and the PERFECT summer creative project!

Can't wait for you guys to learn this technique for painting a monstera deliciosa leaf! Watercolor is magic, and the bursts and blends that happen with wet on wet technique will turn any novice watercolorist into a head over heels lover!! 

Brit & Co Class is Live!

TODAY'S THE DAY! My online class with Brit & Co is now available AND there's still time to grab it for 15% off!! In this course, you'll learn how to turn quick ink illustrations into versatile digital files that you can use as fun and colorful wallpapers for your desktop and phone. There might be a ton of digital wallpaper options out there, but there isn’t a design made by YOU. Yet! Click HERE to register! 

Click HERE for a preview!

 

MCS 2.0 Recap!

The Modern Calligraphy Summit 2.0 was a huge success!! With over 9 hours of video lessons from a group of incredibly talented instructors, the MCS courses included watercolor illustration and digitizing (from us at Mon Voir Co!), invitation design + assembly, brush lettering, copperplate calligraphy and much more! Not to mention live Q&As with the instructors, a private Facebook page to share and ask questions along the way, AND if that wasn't enough - you have lifetime access to ALL of the content! Be the first to hear when registration opens up again in May - sign up for the waiting list HERE! Trust me, you don't want to miss out on this!

Brit & Co Class 4/11

Just one more week until registration opens for my online class with Brit & Co on April 11th! I am so excited to share with you the techniques and tools I use to create fun, colorful patterns (like the ones below!). I will start by covering what brushes, pens and paper to use, then how to transfer your work onto your computer to create a repeat pattern in Adobe Illustrator. Supplies and foundational techniques like composition and color theory will be covered, so you can understand how to create a successful pattern for desktop wallpapers and beyond!

Click HERE to receive 15% off on the class! Just fill out your name and email address and you'll be notified when the class goes LIVE! 

We also offer a Floral Watercolor Class on Brit & Co! This is a great class for beginners, where you'll learn how to build a custom color palette and mix colors, how to use various brush strokes to make different shapes, how to paint and shade stems, leaves and petals and more! 

Modern Calligraphy Summit 2.0 SNEAK PEAK!

Not sure what type of watercolor and/or calligraphy tools to order? It can be so difficult to know what to use... don't worry, I'VE GOT YOU COVERED!  Modern Calligraphy summit has a cool (and free! HELLO!) video series where you'll learn the preferred tools of me and my fellow Modern Calligraphy Summit 2.0 instructors, and learn how we got started in calligraphy and watercolor. Just click THIS LINK and enter your email address to get instant access to the first video! #moderncalligraphysummit

 

 

Shop Pigment Workshops January 2017

Shop Pigment is one of my favorite places to teach for SO many reasons; incredible natural lighting, decor to die for, they continuously outdo themselves with the refreshments spread and there is always positive, happy energy for everyone that walks through their doors!  Teaching there is so much fun for me.  This last weekend I taught my signature Intro to Floral Watercolor and Intro to Modern Calligraphy workshops (#monvoirworkshops on Instagram if you wanna check it out!).  Whether you are a first timer or seasoned in your craft, getting back to the basics and focusing on color theory and technique do worldssssss for honing in your craft!

With that said, we love working together so much that we decided to book more workshops together!  On Saturday, February 18th. I will be teaching Intro to Floral Watercolor from 10am-1pm and from 2pm-5pm I will be teaching Modern Calligraphy.  If you are interested in learning more about the classes or where to sign up, click HERE!

I hope to see you all there!  

Join Me In Paris June 18-24, 2017!

I am so incredibly excited for the Fat Tire Rendezvous in June, I can hardly stand it!  I mean a full week of creative workshops, coffee, wine, cheese, gardens, bike tours, the Eiffel Tower, Versaille....I could go on.  I will be teaching a Floral Watercolor lesson in the garden of Giverny. IS THIS REAL LIFE?  STEP ASIDE MONET!...jk, Monet. But, what?! 

Aside from myself, there will be other amazing artists teaching as well! Among those, Lauren Essl will be teaching us the basics of her stunning calligraphy and Estelle Preston will be guiding us on how to make the most beautiful floral arrangement.  This will be hands down the most inspiring week of your life with Anna Routh there to document the whole trip with her stunning photography!

To register and learn more about this once in a lifetime opportunity, click HERE!  I hope to see you there!