So, per your requests, I repainted a portrait study and I'm going to take you through it. Portraits can be really challenging with watercolors. Some turn out orange, some portraits look muddy...if you use too much brown for shadowing, your study can look like they've been frolicking through the dirt and stopped for a minute to smile nicely for the viewer. I've seen a lot of those!
I originally painted this young lady about 6 months ago. A friend of mine, Katelyn Soderland, is a photographer and she snapped this picture. I loved it and Katelyn graciously gave me permission to use her photo.
My original style of portraiture was very much a smooth, lay down full wash after wash style. This way takes a LOT of babysitting of your work, watching for blooms and such. It's a nice style, but I always felt like it was lacking depth.
Here was my first try:
So, in starting over, I'm not wetting the whole face and laying down an entire wash layer by layer, I'm going to work in sections, allowing my brush strokes to show, layering my colors.
After sketching out my subject, I'm going to start painting on a few different mixtures. Here they are:
Lemon Yellow and Opera Rose for the warmer skin tones
Alizarin Crimson, Prussian Blue and a touch of Burnt Umber for the purples and shadows (keep it light! You don't want your subject to look like Night of The Living Dead)
Prussian Blue for the corners of the eyes (light!)
Starting out, I wet small sections around the eyes and the hairline, the nose and mouth...anywhere where there's shadow and it's cooler. I just start laying on the color, softening some edges and leaving other edges hard.
Then it's time to STEP AWAY FROM THE PAINTING.....hee hee...let it dry and come back to it.
For the eyes, dot yellow in the center around the pupil and then, painting around the reflections, use Prussian blue and Payne's grey for your first eye wash. The whites of the eyes really aren't white. They should be a really light shade of blue.
I used Raw Sienna for the first wash of yellow and a bit of the purple mixture from the face for the shadows in the hair. Be sure to paint around the light's reflection.
As you can see, I've masked the few hairs on the left and a few on the right so that I don't have to paint around them. I think at this stage, I did add a very light wash of the skin tone on the forehead. It was looking too brightly white.
It helps if you stand back from your painting from time to time, setting aside the photograph, and just give the painting what it needs..what you FEEL it needs. Does that make sense?
Also, when I'm painting around the hair, I'm softening that line b/c the hair will reflect the color in the shawl.
Step AWAY from the painting again! (You'll hear this a lot, but I'm really speaking to myself b/c I'm BAD at this) :)
I've added another wash to the shawl with the Alizarin Crimson mix. It's coming along! I'm always kind of all over the place at this point. Eyelashes always make the eyes beautiful and being an eyelash junkie myself, I usually add too many BUT.....if there's anything I've learning in life, it's that YOU CAN NEVER HAVE TOO MANY EYELASHES!
Yes, that is my daily dose of wisdom....not really. There are other things that I should be dishing out in the wisdom arena, such as eat your veggies, don't smoke, love God, wash your hands and for pity's sake, put some more clothes on and act like a lady....were you raised by hyenas?! But we won't go there today. :)
I will master it eventually. I promise. (*sigh)
Okay, FOCUS people! I'm so ADD....The folds of the cloth can be tricky, but here's a trick for the tricky fold....ha.
You know how folds are triangular and lead into a darkest point? Wet the whole triangle and then at the darkest point, drop in some heavy pigment and tilt your gator board to get it to fan out....and repeat and repeat, until you have the depth of color you desire. I don't know if that's the right way, but that's what I do!
You're not going to get "professional" tips here people....this is a SAHM un trained artist writing (oh no!), but the tips will be tried and true.
I worked some more on the eyes, too. I softened a bit, added some reflections, and darkened the eyelashes (shocker!)
Also, soften any hard lines around the hair, the background and the shawl and the hand. You don't want her to look pasted onto the background.
I hope that this has been informational, inspirational and a tad bit goofy for you.
As always, keep those paint brushes going! Have a lovely day, my friends!