Hi, all! Or y'all, as they say down here. Being a bona fide Yankee, it took me a good bit to start saying that, but now I say it allllll the time. When in Rome.....
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:
As you can see, it's nice, but it's lacking that artsy quality that I am moving towards....there's just no a whole lot of depth to it.
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 lips, I kind of use a mixture of Scarlett Lake and Lemon Yellow....kind of a warmer blush than the skin tone.
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.
The eyes are the soul of your painting, so give them a lot of time and attention. I'm now just deepening colors, adding touches here and there. I've worked a good bit on the eyes. Come back to those later. Really study your subject and the subtle variations of color on the face. Don't ever use just brown for shadows. It makes the face look dirty. Use that warm mixture of Prussian Blue, Alizarin Crimson, Burnt Umber and the skin tone shade.....use different variations for different places.
Okay, your first wash on the hair...Blondes always have green in their hair, so I start the first wash with a cool green. I'd tell you what color it is, but the name has worn off of my palette. :) You can cool down any green by adding blue to it.
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.
For the hood, I'm using Alizarin Crimson and a darker mixture of Burnt Umber, Alizarin Crimson and Prussian Blue for the folds and shadows. I did mask the few lighter hairs that I want to preserve at this stage.
For continuity, I'm keeping the a darker mixture of the purple for the background. If you use varying hues of the same colors throughout your painting, it'll make for a visually harmonious experience. Wet the whole background before laying on this wash. I'll do this two times to get the depth of color that I want.
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) :)
As you can see, I'm still deepening the colors on the face from time to time, as I feel it needs it. It's almost like you have to adjust and add to the skin tones as you paint the surrounding colors of the hair and clothes so that they all are similar in intensity.
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. :)
So, I'm working on the hand, using the same colors and techniques as the face.....hands are my nemesis, (nemesises?) I tell ya. If I can avoid painting a hand, I will...yes, yes....I know, do hard things and all that jazz....but I HAVE done hard things in my life and sometimes, can't I just say that I don't want to? I mean, I had three kids without drugs for Pete's sake! Wasn't that hard enough without me having to learn how to paint hands?
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.
Aaaaand, add a few more spots here and there, take your masking fluid off (or frisket...I like the word "frisket"...it makes me want to have "tea and frisket")
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.
Here's a closeup of the eyes...I love the details, reflections and colors in eyes.
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!
Gooood morning! It's a rainy morning in balmy NC, but I'm so excited b/c all of the flowers are blooming and I got my veggie and flower gardens cleaned out yesterday! Yippeee!
I must not have used any muscles all winter long b/c this morning I am SORE!
So, I wanted to take you through a fun rooster project. I hope you'll try it!
Grab a rooster photo from your neighbor's henhouse, sketch it out or lightbox it and give it a whirl.
Using a larger round brush (I was using a #12) quickly work in sections, loosely laying on your base blues and purples. Tilt your board a bit or prop it up so that your colors blend without you having to mess with it. Let the paint do the work.
Colors: cerulean blue, paynes gray, viridian green (in the tail), violet
Dry this wash before you start the next one!
Your paper should be completely dry to the touch now before you start on the background bushes. I wet the whole bush area and worked quickly in sections from the bottom right, up and over the top. Finish the large section before you do the section under the tail.
Colors: Hooker's green mixed with bunt umber, new gamboge, lemon yellow, viridian green
Wash your brush well in between colors and change your water if it's getting too muddy. Dirty water will make your painting look dingy and you want to keep the vibrant colors.
On the stones, I used Burnt Sienna and Burn Umber
Here, you're going to be working in color chunks, not worrying about individual feathers. The rooster that I am looking at had large patches of gorgeous yellows, blues, and oranges.
Colors: Payne's Gray, Violet, Burn Sienna, Yellow Ochre, Alizarin Crimson
Here, I'm deepening the background so that the rooster pops forwards. Use the same colors and place paint negatively around some interesting branches and such. I had scratched in branches, but I didn't like how that looked, so after it was dry, I painted negatively around those branches. At this point, you should be looking at your painting for balance, adding touches of color here and there.
I also deepened some of the colors on the rooster here, still not getting too caught up in the details.
I'm adding my darkest darks, here...The Payne's gray, brightening up the yellows and reds, splattering a bit. The darkest greens towards the bottom of the bush, getting lighter as you go out. To get that effect, paint on the dark green right next to the rooster and then with clean water on your brush, touch the edge of the green and draw it out. Use a tissue to dab up too much water.
The finishing touches on all my painting is the softening of the edges. Notice in the rooster, above, how harsh some of the edges are. I like to soften up some lines and created a "glow" on my work. I find it more appealing.
Your painting MUST be completely dry before doing this. With clean water, a tissue and a smaller brush, start softening the lines, edges and some of the feather patterns. Work on one place at a time. Soften an edge with clean water, gently scrubbing at the line of paint until it comes up and then dab it with a tissue. This process can be a bit time consuming, but it really makes your artwork look finished.
I always like to soften up some circles in bushes or trees, soften up the spot on the rooster's back where the sun is shining, wherever you feel that the painting needs some TLC.
You're done! Pop it into a mat and you have a lovely gift for someone or for yourself!
I hope you've enjoyed my little tutorial. Feel free to share it with others.
Let me know if you have any questions.
I've been seriously blessed by having The Watercolor Painting Club highlight my blog yesterday. The feedback was so wonderful and positive. THANK YOU!
I especially wanted to write and let people know that, as an artist, I'll always respond to any questions or comments that you may have concerning art or anything else for that matter!
See, I'm a self-taught artist. When I was younger, I never had the money or time to go to college and study art. I was married at 22 to a wonderful man and we started a family right away. Three kids in three years! Woo hooo! We certainly started with a bang! I'd always been an artsy girl and I just longed with every fiber of my exhausted, sleep-deprived being to become an artist....I would fiddle around in the dark, unfinished basement of our CT house with craft paints, teaching myself Tole painting and painting little canvases. Looking back, they were really bad! Wow!
I remember rocking my babies in the wee hours of the morning, dreaming and longing to just have the time, or the money or even one day to just attend an art class! It wasn't happening. So I fumbled around, painting on the walls of my daughter's room, doodling flowers and birds and picket fences during nap time.
Amazingly, I started getting better at painting flowers with acrylics and people started paying me to come and paint flowers and butterflies in their children's rooms and nurseries! Oh joy! Soon, I had this grand idea that I was going to volunteer my budding murals to hospitals and sick kids. The Yale New Haven Hospital in CT had me paint murals on the entire third floor of their Psychiatric Ward...(please note, I have a history of failed grand ideas) (also note, the ideas are always grand to me until they flop, but that's ok!)
That was interesting! There's nothing quite like having a bunch of patients hanging over your shoulders asking you head scratching questions and wanting to "use that bush over there" for their bodily needs....the bush being the tree I just painted on the wall! I wasn't sure if that was a compliment b/c it was so realistic looking to this slightly disturbed person or an insult to my art. Oh well!
Moving down to North Carolina meant that I had to start over with my client base, but things soon picked up again. UNC's Pediatric Surgeon's office needed a volunteer muralist for their walls...I volunteered three months of my time filling their walls with elephants, ducks, birds, etc...finished it, and they moved! You just have to laugh at life sometimes. If you don't laugh, you'll just cry with frustration!
Some of my early murals:
I spent a few years painting murals, donating murals to chronically ill kids and families. It was quite an experience! I've walked into houses that have sweeping staircases and fountains in the circular driveway....I've quaked in my shoes staring at the blank wall that I was expected to create a huge painting on. Where to start? What if I fail? Why am I doing this? lol
In the end, you just have to dive in and start somewhere, make that pencil mark, pick up that brush...risk it! B/c if you don't you won't get anywhere or learn anything or have the opportunity to fail....and yes, failing is an opportunity b/c every time you fail, you learn something.
So, in between mothering, homeschooling, painting murals, my hubby bought me my first watercolor paints about 4 Christmases ago....and I fell in LOVE! There was no going back. A new challenge to teach myself! Oh joy!
I got books, I studied, I muddied, I tore paintings up, I framed some really bad art, I struggle and I WROTE other artists that I admired...not a lot, mind you, I just wrote an email once in awhile to an artist that I liked....and I never got a response. I just so badly wanted someone to say, "you can do it" or give me some advice on an watercolor problem...and no one ever did! I guess when you get too big for your britches, you forget that there are others coming up behind you that need encouragement and cheer.
Now, let me preface that by saying that my inquiries were in my early watercolor years....until I found Pam Shank and she has been a WONDERFUL encouragement to me. She paints gorgeous watercolor portraits and I love her to death.
So, my friends, ALL that to say that I will never ignore people who write me. I will do my best to be an encouragement to you and help you along your journey, because who are we if we cannot love and assist others in this life?
It is what God expects of us and it is a joy and a privilege. Please enjoy, learn from, paint from, experiment with any of my tutorials...and if you need reference pics, I have free ones on my facebook page! They are copyright free, taken by me at the NC State Arboretum.
Let's see what you can do!
Thanks for reading and I wish everyone the best on their artistic journey!
It's super tricky painting these close up flowers. This week has been crazy and not crazy. I've had sick kids all week (yes, the flue is visiting us YET again) (Oh, joy) and in between making tea, taking temps, making soup, feeling brows, giving vitamins, bringing juice, cutting up oranges, covering up, uncovering, rubbing backs, coloring with, fetching things, washing, cooking, making toast....I've been painting! Ha! I don't have to be at ballet or piano or Taekwondo or play dates or church or anything. Double Ha!
....the beautiful silver lining to the dark cloud that is influenza! My kids have watched WAAAAY too much TV this week, but it's the only way to keep them down and resting, so I've assuaged my guilty conscience with the thought that I never let them watch much and it won't kill them for 4 days out of their life. Weaning them off of it will be tough, but leeeet's not worry about that now.
I'm painting in my art studio, listening to my kids watch episodes of the BBC's Robin Hood and Extreme Couponing. That is not one show, it is two, mind you. I have NO earthly idea why my offspring like to watch Extreme Couponing b/c I don't personally clip coupons, but for some reason they find this show fascinating...... that you can get $1,459.97 worth of junk food for $.37 if you just clip enough coupons...but I digress here!
You are obviously visiting this blog b/c you are interested in art, not my children's quirky TV habits.
So, this flower has taken me THREE WEEKS to paint. My paintings are taking longer and LONGER to finish....I'm not sure if this is progress or not.
It's hugely detailed and just explaining all the steps right now feels like work, so I will let my pics do the talking for me and if you have any specific questions, you can email me or call or use whatever communication you have....I'm sure I'll be found if you're looking b/c I can't seem to get away from anyone these days (not that I'm actively trying).....I remember the days when I went out to the store and I couldn't be reached for HOURS on end b/c I didn't have a cell phone or texting or ichat or skyping or anything that made me reachable in any way, shape or form.
Now, I find myself pushing a shopping cart with my hip bone, loading groceries with one hand, texting with the other while making violent shushing noises to my restless children. While I'm texting, I could get an emergency phone call from my husband who can't decide between the 300 lb. roll of aluminum foil or the 2500 square foot roll of cellophane, and could I please tell him which I need? (the question to ask is, do I really NEED a 300 lb. roll of aluminum? That's a lot of baked potatoes...)
This is all happening while I'm trying to communicate to the deli lady that I really need one pound of THINLY slliced meat not two pieces that each weigh 1/2 a pound. (which is what they'll do if you don't watch them like a hawk b/c they don't like slicing with that slicey thing that they slice with) I know this from experience! NOTHING is worse than bringing home one whole pound of meat and using it up on one very thick sandwich b/c it's sliced too thickly! It's perfectly dreadful, b/c it means that I have to make ANOTHER trip to the grocery store to get more meat to last the week. The HORROR!
Wait, where was I? Ah, yes....painting a pink flower *cue soft classical music*.
I think I've been in the house too long.
I'm a wife and mother of four kids. I homeschool, paint, run, and garden! I am always interested in digging truths out of Scripture. Here, you'll find my thoughts on art, adoption, gardening, mothering, homeschooling, books and whatever else is on my mind. Enjoy!
Creativity doesn't exist in a vacuum - like skepticism, it's a means, not an end. It cries out for a theme. To treat creativity as an end in itself is to assume godlike character for humans as though they could create ex nihilo. -J. Cheane