Watercolor Illustration: Orange Blossom Water

Watercolor Illustration: Orange Blossom Water from Anjar, Lebanon | By Yaansoon Illustration

Orange Blossom Water reminds me a lot of my grandmother, who used to give us a small cup of this bitter-sweet liquid whenever we had an aching tummy. I have a bottle of this aromatic water in my pantry. Marveling at its vintage shape, today seemed the perfect day to create an illustration inspired by one of my childhood’s memories.

Orange Blossom Water (eau de fleur d’oranger in French, and Ma Zaher in Arabic) is one of Lebanon’s famous culinary creations. It is used to scent locally-made Baklawa (aka Baklava), sweet syrups, pastries, ice creams, and puddings.

 

Watercolor Illustration: Orange Blossom Water | By Yaansoon Illustration

This particular bottle is made in Anjar, a small town located in the Bekaa’ Valley in Lebanon. I once saw a documentary about the making of Ma Zaher and the location of the distillery was up in the mountain somewhere in Lebanon. So it seems Ma Zaher is distilled in more than one location in this beautiful Mediterranean country. But I have a nagging feeling that one particular town is famous for it; I’ll try to find out more about that and will fill you in!

Watercolor Illustration: Orange Blossom Water | By Yaansoon Illustration

Orange Blossom Water for Beauty

Ma Zaher is distilled from the petals of orange blossoms. It has so many uses including as a beauty toner for your skin. Just add a dab of this lovely aromatic liquid to a cotton ball to freshen up your face.

Just a quick note before I go; the colour palette in my illustration is quite different from the colours of the original bottle. I thought I’d add a summery twist to it.

Well, folks, thanks for stopping by and looking forward to seeing you in my next post!

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Illustration Inspiration: Colourful lunch the Mediterranean Way

Illustration Inspiration: Colourful lunch the Mediterranean Way | Photography by Yaansoon Illustration

We had a nice family lunch a few days ago and the table setting looked absolutely fabulous. It encapsulated the multi-cultural world my husband and I live in, with all the colours, motifs, and textures that inspire my illustrations. Each piece was curated to remind our family of the places we’ve been to. The patterned red-white-and-gold tablecloth is a vintage piece from Damascus, the plates from Tunisia, the trivets from the UK, the water glasses from IKEA, and the blue ceramic bakeware from Jordan.

Although I was under the illusion my camera phone had taken some really nice pix at the time, I realized that most of the pictures were actually out of focus once I transferred them to my computer. To camouflage the terrible lighting and focus issues, I used filters that were applied rather heavy-handedly in a lame attempt to salvage some of these photos. So please accept my sincere apology for the poor-ish quality of these pix.

Illustration Inspiration: Colourful lunch the Mediterranean Way | Photography by Yaansoon Illustration

Today’s post is about a multi-cultural lifestyle and a home filled with love and a mix of world patterns.

When I was a kid, I was the one in charge of setting the table for my mom’s many lunch and dinner feasts. I didn’t know what seemed like a chore back then was teaching me something about art and design.

Illustration Inspiration: Colourful lunch the Mediterranean Way | Photography by Yaansoon IllustrationMy mom has a large collection of dinnerware and plate sets from different parts of the world. My task was to mix and match these sets against a suitable backdrop (the tablecloth), polish the silverware, and set up a separate tray for the turquoise and navy-blue glasses.

Illustration Inspiration: Colourful lunch the Mediterranean Way | Photography by Yaansoon Illustration

Although these days I prefer a rather more minimalist approach to home decor in other areas of the home, I still love a feast with busy and colourful patterns.

I hope you have enjoyed today’s post, looking forward to seeing you in my next one!

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Illustration Friday – Wood

Illustration Friday - Wood | By Yaansoon Illustration

I’m submitting this illustration to a website called “Illustration Friday.” It’s the first time I take part in this weekly challenge, and I couldn’t be happier that this week’s topic is “wood.” The way I interpreted this topic is very much linked to the fact I once had a handcrafts line of wooden and organic jewelry. With this inspiration in mind, I decided to create an illustration that spoke about stylish and minimalist kitchen and tableware items made by skilled woodworkers.

This illustration celebrates the natural beauty and texture of wood, and the many types of timber used to create unique kitchenware that can add so much to any stylish and organic kitchen.

Hand-finished with mineral oil and beeswax, beautiful kitchen utensils – like trays, cutting boards, pepper shakers and coffee mills – can be handcrafted using birch, black walnut, Italian olive wood, maple wood, white oak, cherry birch, and beech wood.

I love kitchenware that balances classic details with contemporary forms and organic textures. Those don’t just add a stylish statement to your kitchen, but can also add a lot of intimacy and flavour to your dishes.

I have two boards on Pinterest dedicated to organic kitchens and minimalist decor ideas; please feel free to pay them a visit here:

Thank you for stopping by and looking forward to seeing you in my next post!

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Food Illustration: Artisanal Sourdough Bread the Italian Way

Food Illustration: Artisanal Sourdough Bread the Italian Way | By Yaansoon Illustration

One of the culinary pleasures of traditional Italian food comes in the form of sourdough bread. The first time my husband baked a loaf made from homemade and natural slow yeast (also called mother’s yeast), my taste buds were introduced to a whole new world of textures and flavours. I created this illustration with a minimalist feel to try and capture the essence of artisanal bread and what it stands for.

Food that isn’t over-processed and that keeps the integrity of its ingredients has a distinct taste, as if it belonged to a pristine corner of Heaven!

My husband wrote a post in Italian (with an English translation) for this blog sometime mid last year, to describe his experience in making his first-ever sourdough bread. I have learnt a lot from his approach to food, which is influenced by the fact he is an Italian with a strong interest in the traditional culinary arts of Italy.

Italians believe ingredients play a substantial role in the gastronomic experience of foodies. They cook to maximize the ingredients, not to dilute them under a heavy blanket of spices or harsh cooking methods. They also like fresh, raw, and natural ingredients over canned or processed foods.

I wanted to capture all of this in one illustration that could make the viewer sense the light and breezy essence of Italian artisanal bread, hence the illustration above.

My hope is that one day I will be able to create a whole set of illustrations for an Italian food cookbook maybe, so I can introduce more of this kind of imagery to my portfolio.

I do hope you liked today’s quick post, and I look forward to seeing you again soon in a new illustrated post!

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New Illustration: A Moroccan-Mediterranean Breakfast

New Illustration: A Moroccan-Mediterranean Breakfast | Original artwork by Yaansoon

Olives, mint tea, freshly-baked bread, and fried eggs are some of the key staples of a Mediterranean breakfast. Add to that a nice Moroccan table cloth, an electric blue “shinko” teapot, and a lovely hand-painted pink plate, and you got yourself a global-chic table setting fit for a festive breakfast with friends and loved ones.

I was born into a family of foodies, starting with my late grandmother whose dishes spanned the Mediterranean, and where yummy and very nourishing both to the body and the soul. To my mother’s family, food is not just something to devour. It’s a festivity that brings together friends and family in an invitation to enjoy astonishing flavours, and to indulge in a new culinary experience that can delight the senses and ignite the imagination.

When I made this illustration, I was tapping into my own personal culinary heritage, that is a mixture of so many influences, including my strong passion for Moroccan motifs, Mediterranean food culture, and multi-cultural folk/ethnic heritage.

New Illustration: A Moroccan-Mediterranean Breakfast | Original artwork by Yaansoon

In the above picture, you can see the original sketch I made using pigmented ink. It’s very much representative of the breakfast parties my mother throws every once in a while, as she took after her mother (my grandmother). My mom is a traveller who loves collecting authentic handcrafts, ceramics, and souvenirs from around the globe. She has stacks and stacks of multi-ethnic tableware that are so delightful to look at, and that can often transform a simple breakfast party into something totally divine!

UPDATE: Watch this new video (above) to see my first attempt at semi-animating my illustrations :)

Well, I do hope you enjoyed this post, and I do look forward to seeing you again in my next one!

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