Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Illustrated Recipe: Mojito Watermelon

Don't you love when you start seeing those great big bins of watermelons in the grocery stores? It always tells me that summer is almost here. I love having watermelon in season (I never buy it in the wintertime) and last summer I tried a watermelon recipe that has become one of my favorites...

9" x 12", ink & watercolor in a 90 lb. Aquabee Super Deluxe sketchbook

It's called Mojito Watermelon, but it doesn't have anything alcoholic in it, just the fresh flavors of lime and mint.

The page layout style is a new one I made up to share with my Cheap Joe's workshoppers. I call it a "flow sketch" because it's based on the idea of a flow chart. One box leads to another, and, before you know it, you've got the whole recipe blocked out. The layout works well for sketching any sort of process or series of events.

Looks good enough to eat, doesn't it?

I began the page by drawing the large ellipse and the bowl of watermelon in pencil, then blocked in the other boxes to hold the text and ingredients. Next, I inked most of the lettering and all of the drawings.

Did you notice the watermelon smiley face?

One thing that was a little tricky was that the yellow-green color that I used for the box backgrounds will set pencil lines when painted over them. Most yellows will. So after I inked most, but not all, of the lettering, I erased the remaining messy initial pencil lines, so they wouldn't show in the finished sketch. After I painted the backgrounds, I went back in with pencil and redrew the lettering that was missing, then painted it with watercolor. For example, in the image below, the words "bowl", "combine", "lime zest", and "juice" were all redrawn after the background had dried.

I used a little opaque white paint for the sugar and the sprinkling of salt

The elaborate border around the bowl of mojito watermelon was made up of simple shapes that combined to make a pretty design.

The boxes were all connected by watermelon seeds.

I worked on the lettering last, so I could use colors that coordinated with the rest of the page.

The letters were drawn by hand, inked, then the open areas were filled with green and pink paint which was allowed to merge and mingle wet-in-wet. So pretty!

You might be curious ablout the colors I used in this sketch:
Light pink watermelon = Opera Pink + Scarlet Lake
Darker watermelon = Opera Pink + Permanent Alizarin
Light yellow-green background = Leaf Green + a little Sap Green
Watermelon seeds = Sepia or Burnt Umber + Payne's Gray

I love how this page turned out. It feels so happy and fun, and it brings to mind the summers of my childhood, sitting in our swimsuits in grandma's backyard eating big wedges of watermelon, with juice dripping down our chins. Seedless watermelons were only wishful thinking back then, so there was a whole lot of seed spitting going on. And those seeds went everywhere!

It's a lot easier now, with no seeds to slow you down. Here's the recipe for you to copy and paste:

Mojito Watermelon
2 T. olive oil
2 T. fresh lime juice
Zest of 1-2 limes
1 tsp. sugar
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
½ small seedless watermelon, cut into chunks
1/3 cup fresh mint leaves, torn or chopped

Whisk together the oil, lime juice and sugar in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
Toss together the watermelon, lime zest and dressing to combine.


  1. I feel as though I have just taken a mini class with you! Thank you so much for taking us step by step through your page, giving us an idea how to go about it. I'm going to give this a try. (Love that you also included the colors you used). Hope to see more of this,

    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed it. You might want to check out the Tutorials page here on my site. There is a ton of information there.

  2. Leslie, I think this may be my favorite of yours ever! Although I'm very fond of one in your Tuscany book with reds and three circles. The Watermelon lettering is brilliant and the depth to the little seeds, the lime strip S! Ideas everywhere!

    1. It's one of my favorites, too, Bobbi. It's just so darn happy-looking.

  3. This is such a scrumptious page! Your color choices are perfect for this appetizing recipe.

    1. Thanks, Susan. Someone on Facebook suggested subbing rum for the olive oil - I just might have to try that sometime for a Summerhill Sketching session!

  4. Ooo, that sounds yummy too!


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