Hi all! Phew, I apologize that my posts have been so few and far in between! This year of working on our adoption has been just a bit crazy. If you've adopted before, you can understand the amount of paperwork and time that's involved...
I was just scrolling through a friend's adoption page and I came upon this ADORABLE photo of her little one blissfully scarfing up watermelon on a sunny, summer's day. I just couldn't resist it. There was so much personality, life, and joy, I just had to try my hand at it.
After getting my sketch correct, I worked section by section with a wet-on-wet wash. I did the face first, then the lower body beneath the watermelon. Here are the steps:
Mask the highlights in the eyes with masking fluid.
1. Wet the whole face and lay on a quick, light wash of Lemon Yellow, followed quickly by Opera Rose. VERY LIGHT. While the page is still wet, dot in some cerulean blue and turquoise in your shadow areas around the eyes, nose, under the chin and hairline. Soften your wash into the hairline and the watermelon using just water and the brush. Repeat with the lower half of the body. After laying on the Lemon Yellow and Opera Rose , I used a mixture of Cerulean Blue and Alizarin Crimson in the shadow areas.
Now, don't be frightened. This is what is called the "scary" stage of a portrait. I'm lining the eyes, nostrils and any other shadowed areas with a heavier mixture of the Lemon Yellow and Opera Rose, followed by the purple mixture of the aforementioned blue and red. The sides of the face where they receded away also get a wash of these colors. I will alternate back and forth a few times until I've achieved the desired color depth.
***Make sure each wash is completely dry before you move on to the next wash or else you'll have quite a mess on your hands!***
3. I always like to start on the eyes as soon as possible for two reasons. Firstly, the eyes are the window to the soul and so correct eyes will not only capture the spirit of your subject, but will draw your viewer in. Secondly, if I mess up the eyes, then the painting will be scrapped, so I like to start them early to make sure they're correct before I do all of the hard work on the rest of the painting. :)
I also started laying a light under wash of purples and browns in the hair. Any wash you do needs to be completely dry to the touch before you paint any more. Most paintings are ruined by artists becoming impatient and "messing" with the paint while it's drying. Use a hair dryer if you can't wait. (I do!)
4. I've added another layer of washes on the lower body, face and hair, simply repeating the steps above. The watermelon, at this point, has two washes on it. One light layer was laid wet on wet and then after it was dry, I allowed my brush to "skip" around to created the texture of the watermelon. Practice this on a separate piece of paper sometime.
Use the side of your brush and allow the bristles to lightly skip on the paper pattern. Make sure there's not too much water in the brush for this technique.
For the crevices in the arms and fingers, I repeated the crevice pattern of the face. Lay on a heavier mixture of the Lemon Yellow and Opera Rose (it looks very orange), then lay on the purple mixture.
At this stage, I'm paying close attention to small shadows, shapes and colors on the face and body to get the correct details. There's another wash on the hair, too, using Payne's Gray, your purple mixture, and Burnt Umber (brown)
Adjust your skin tones with light washes of the skin tone mixture, adding Opera Rose on the cheekbones, nose and forehead as needed.
5. Here, I've decided to paint the background before I complete the hair so there's some softer edges.
Background can be tricky. I'm working entirely wet on wet. Wet the entire page around the child, keeping your edges as clean as possible. Then start on one side and work your way around. I used a #12 brush, switching to a #4 when I needed to get into finer edges. Work quickly and don't let your page dry before you've completed this wash. Lay on your lighter colors first and work towards the darker colors.
Colors used Hooker's Green, Indian Yellow, Burnt Umber, Payne's Gray, Cerulean Blue, Veridian Green.
6. Now, you an lay deeper colors on the hair AFTER THE BACKGROUND IS DRY. Don't forget! It's by far, the biggest mistake people make with watercolors. The painting should be completely dry and flat before continuing with more painting.
Here's a closer look at the face. At the end, I might take a white Gelly roll pen to establish some more white reflections in the eyes for depth after I've removed the masking fluid.
Down to the details now. I've added alternate washes of Lemon Yellow glaze and Opera Rose, adjusting the skin tones deeper on cheeks and highlight areas. I spent a considerable amount of time on her hands to get the finger angles correct.
The watermelon juice drops are deeper skin tones mixtures.
At the end I might clean up my edges with clean water and a brush, softening lines and edges. I deepen crevices just a bit more for more depth and light.
At the very end, I glaze very watered down washes of color on the background, deepening and brightening where needed with the greens, blues and yellows.
I hope you've enjoyed this little lesson! Please leave comments or questions below.
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