Hello and Happy Valentine’s Day! I wanted to design some Valentines this year, but as usual, I started on the project far too late and barely managed to finish the project right before the holiday. I need to give myself more than a month to complete something of this scope, but I don’t seem to get my best ideas until right before the holiday spirit sets in!
For this series, I designed four different cards featuring a love-related idiom in a foreign language. I envisioned a lettered illustration on the front, plus a witty translation on the inside. I chose a variety of languages (Spanish, French, Chinese, and Russian) and I tried to convey a concrete object from each idiom. Drawing the compositions proved to be more difficult than I thought, but the watercolor painting actually elevated each illustration more than I expected.
The first one completed was the French idiom, “Le coup de foudre.” That translates to “bolt of lightning,” and refers to instantly falling in love at first sight. I wanted the words to looks like lightning coming from a stormcloud, and the lightning to strike a heart. I really love the indigo-violet halo around lightning, so I outlined the words, and once I painted them striking the heart, I realized how similarly they also look to veins. I was very pleased with the result.
The second one completed was the Russian idiom, “Po yshi vlubitsya.” That means “up to [your] ears in love,” and means to be completely in love with someone. This one was difficult to execute because of the odd imagery and the composition of the letters. I tried not to be too rectilinear with the composition, but I didn’t want to overdo the fluidity on the Russian characters so that they became illegible. I decided the hearts will have to balance the composition. The ears were difficult to paint, because not many people enjoy illustrations of disembodied ears. But after loosely painting them and attaching them to the Russian word for “ears,” I liked it a lot more.
The third one completed was the Chinese idiom, “(yí) 日 三 秋,” which translates to “One day, three autumns.” That phrase means to miss someone so much, that one day apart feels like three years (isn’t that beautiful?). The characters themselves are beautiful, and fit into a snug rectangle, so I had a lot of issues with composition here. I wanted to add leaves to the longer strokes, but since I am not fluent in Chinese, I didn’t know if that could be misconstrued or mistranslated. I painted a lot of leaves and just placed them around the letters until it felt right.
The last idiom was one of my favorites, the Spanish idiom “media naranja,” which translates to “orange half.” It’s an expression meaning your better half or soulmate. I knew this one had to be cute, so I wanted to do thick, happy letters inside of an orange. I am not the best at drawing circles, so this ended up looking more football shaped than round, but I am still happy with the result.
So there you have it! I am not in time to start selling them this Valentine’s Day, but I’m hoping to clean them up a bit and sell them next year. Maybe if I find more lovely idioms, I’ll add them to the series.