Goooood morning, all of you art lovers out there! I hope that you're doing well on this fine, crisp, autumn morning!
I won't waste your time with a lot of chit chat...this morning, it's pet portraits! I know there are probably tons of blogs out there about how to paint them, but this one is going to be a step by step, how-to photo and how-to capture your pet with watercolors.
First off.....always start with a good photo where there's a plethora of light in the eyes, a photo that's well lit, the pup has a cute expression on its face, ears up, etc. I was using my friend, Britta's, dog, Roxy. She's a cutie. It doesn't have to be a big old production, just grab your cell phone and start snapping until you get a good pose.
This is the pic I chose to paint from. Yes, the background is distracting, but we're going to eliminate everything except for the head and shoulders. The reason I chose this photo is that there is a great reflection in the eye, there are great light and dark contrasts in the ear and mouth that give depth to the painting. Her pose is relaxed and the light on the eye and nose is clearly defined. A lot of dogs have dark muzzles, so if you can get a pic where the light clearly defines the mouth and nose area, it will help you greatly.
Once I've sketched it out to my satisfaction, I put masking fluid (very carefully) on the white of the eye, the white on the top of her nose and a couple of little white specs that she has here and there (like by her eye and in the corners of her eye) Anywhere the light reflects. I did not mask the white of her chin b/c that will be fairly easy to paint around.
Using a number 12 round, I load the brush with burnt sienna and start working my way around the face, laying on a mixture of van dyke brown and violet for the darker areas and french ultramarine blue on the nose area. I keep clear of the eye so that I can do small detail work on it later. Here's the first wash. You have to work rather quickly to get the wash on without making a mess of it. (don't worry about the whiskers....I did away with them eventually b/c they were distracting)
While the first wash is drying, I wet the entire pupil/iris area of the eye and using burnt sienna for the iris and a van dyke brown/violet mix for the pupil and edge, I carefully start the first eye details. I used a number 2 round for this one. Put on the burnt sienna first and while it's still wet, carefully paint on the darker areas with a thicker mixture so that it doesn't turn the whole eye brown. Control the water on your brush with a tissue or blotter.
I also lightly painted on some opera rose on the ear and under the chin. For under the chin, I wet the whole area, painting on a light wash of opera rose first and then using a heavier pigment mixture of the brown, I dotted in her spots. The pigment for the spots needs to be heavy on the brush so that it doesn't spread as much.
While the eye is drying, I started a light wash of the brown mixture on on the nose/nostril area, closely studying my photo for the small variations and shapes that will define the nose area.
Once the eye was dry, I painted another wash on it, deepening the colors and defining the shapes more. I always encourage my students to spend several minutes simply studying the subject, noticing shapes and shadows, subtle changes in color, before painting. Then, while you're painting, you need to be looking at your subject constantly. Make it a habit for your eyes to be consistenly switching between your painting and your subject. This keeps your brain from filling in incorrect details...which our brains LOVE to do for us.
Ok, don't panic! I know this is a huge change, but it's actually only one more wash over the head and face area. I'm using the same colors as before, just deepening them. I'm using my number 12 again so that I have a lot of water on the page and I don't let my edges dry. Lay on your wash quickly and then while it's still wet, deepen the darker colors around the eye and nose. What a difference it makes, eh? While it's still wet, with a lot more pigment on my brush, I quickly lay on the "wrinkles" so that they are soft.
After the last wash has COMPLETELY dried...(don't attempt another wash until your paper is really, really dry) (I use a hair dryer sometimes to speed up the process), I noticed that the nose was a little too blue for my taste. I washed a light layer of the van dyke brown over the nose area. I wanted a hint of blue on the snout, but not too much. I've also defined some shapes in the ear, painted on a bit more color on the cheek and neck area and I've added just a light touch of color to the throat area of her white coat.
I darkened the nostrils a bit more and now, at the end, I'm kind of just adding touches here and there, seeing what she needs in the finished details.
For the finishing touches, I've taken off the masking fluid, softened up some lines and spots with clean water, a tissue and my brush. When you splatter, lay tissues on the dog so that the splatter doesn't get on her.
Here's a close up of the eye to help you see what I've done. As you can see, after the masking fluid is off, I've softened the spots so that they aren't so harsh. I've softened spots on the nose where the light softly hits it. This helps defined it from just being a black blob. I softened the edges of the white streak on her nose. Just use your own judgement at the end to give your painting that finished look
I sincerely hope that this has been helpful to you. I always love to hear feedback or answer questions, so please don't hesitate to ask.
It's funny b/c sometimes I post a blog and I don't get any comments on it, so I naturally think that nobody has read it. Then I see friends and acquaintances later who say, "Oh, I love your step-by-step pics and instruction." Or "Oh, it's so neat to see the process of your work"....and that is encouraging and fun to hear.
Really, my blogs are for your instruction and enjoyment and I hope you have learned some from this one.
Have fun painting your pets!
I was inspired recently by another artist on facebook who paints close up fruit paintings. I love the deep colors in fruit and since I'm a bright color watercolor artist, I thought I should try my hand at it! I'm so ADHD with art. Every time I see something, I want to try my hand at my own version of it. I see a painting of a horse and I'm like, "ooh! a horse! Great idea!"....then two seconds later, I'm distracted by a squirrel painting or a strawberry.
It's exhausting being so interested in painting EVERYTHING.
Anyhow, back to the fruit...I had never really painted a close up painting of detailed fruit...I don't think I have. I can't remember. Here are the photos and step by step instruction.
Just set up your own fruit still life with a strong light source and have at it! I actually set this fruit on my white gator board in some bright sunshine.
Step one, mask all of those annoying little seeds on the strawberry and any highlights on the fruit. Try not to just mask circles for the light, but make different shapes. In the end, you'll take the masking fluid off and you don't want all of these perfect little circles for the highlights. It'll be too distracting.
I wet the whole strawberry and added a lot of pigment. I used alizarin crimson and scarlett to get the right shade, with a little bit of french ultramarine blue for the shadows on the sides. I tried to keep the pigment lighter towards the highlight on the berry.
I also wet the whole lemon and added my first wash of yellows and blues to it, keeping the pigment lighter toward the highlight.
Step two! Wet the whole grape and using a mixtures of blues, reds and purples and a number 3 round, paint on your first wash. Study your subject closely to see where the shadows and light is.
I used a mixture of hookers green, viridian green and touched on burnt sienna on the leaves of the strawberry.
All of the fruit will need more than one wash to get the depth of color that we are shooting for.
Moving along! Here, I'm putting another wash on the lemons with a dash of salt just for interest. I've started on the shadows, and I'm letting the grapes dry before I finish all of the grapes so that the colors don't run together.
One of the biggest mistakes that my students make is to not allow your painting to fully dry between washes. A fully dry painting should be flat and completely dry to the touch. I sometimes use a blow dryer, but if you've used a lot of water, it might need to dry overnight.
As you can see here, I'm finishing up on the grapes on the left and still working on the bunch of grapes. I've also deepened the cut strawberry's color and added another wash to the strawberries. At this stage, it's all about your observational skills....period. What are you seeing? What shapes do you see in the shadows and highlights. Study your subject closely and paint what you see, not what you THINK you see.
I'm in the final stages here. Once I take the masking fluid off, I'll touch a bit of yellow into the seeds with a dark brown highlight to make the seeds pop. As you can see, I've softened some of the highlights on the grapes. Can you tell which grape isn't softened yet? I also like to soften the edges of the fruit because the softer edges recede, giving the fruit a 3-D effect of popping off of the page. I love that!
This pic gives you the perspective of the size of the painting. All in all, I really enjoyed painting fruit and I'm sure I'll tackle another project soon. I hope that this has been useful to you!
What fruit project are you going to try? Just buy some fruit, set it in some sunshine or bright light and have at it!
Feel free to ask questions!
The title is misleading b/c this painting wasn't primarily to paint a duck, but to conquer WATER....the great challenge for all artists, but especially watercolor artists! I've struggled with water for a while...BUT recently, I decided to just dive right into something REALLY hard and see what emerged. Sometimes that's the only way to learn a difficult subject...
Many people, myself included, hesitate to charge into a difficult subject, b/c what if they *gasp* ruin the painting and fail...but, as I remind myself constantly, it's only a piece of paper, right? A whole piece of paper costs me about $6 and I can get about 4-5 paintings from a 22 x 30, so I've really only lost a couple bucks if I ruin something (plus time and frustration) (which is technically priceless, but I digress...)
So, dive into something hard and challenge yourself! You'll be so glad you did!
I was working from a photo of a duck that landed in a fountain while we were visiting Washington DC recently. The sketching was rather tedious, but I wanted to give myself lots of information to work with, so I sketched every line and reflection.
This was obviously a political duck b/c he acted very self-important and begged for more resources. The Washington DC squirrels are the same way.....
I kept track of the reflections by adding the blue first to the largest areas so I wouldn't get lost in the shapes. That's always a good first step when you're painting complicated shapes. Choose one color and paint every shape that color and it keeps you on track. Then, I started adding the greens and darker colors.
I wet the whole area of the each shape and put color on. I used a small, round #4 brush for this whole process. Anytime I painted green into an area, I usually charged in Burnt Sienna while it was still wet, just to make it more visually interesting.
Colors are Cerulean Blue, Payne's Gray, Hooker's Green, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber
Now for the duck....I wet the whole head and laid on my first wash with Payne's Grey, Viridian Green and Purple. I did the same with the breast of the duck. The marks around the neck are masked. With a #3 round, I started patiently adding the feather details. A lot of the time, I mixed Burnt Umber in with the purple to get a nice warm color for some of the feathers.
I'm just gradually working by sections here on the back of the duck.
I decided to finish up the duck so that I could really concentrate on the water areas, so I've added about 2 - 3 washes to deepen his head and breast...finished up the feathers....and I'm happy with him.
You'll notice that the white of his feathers is just the white of the paper. There's a LOT of negative space going on there. I'm just painting around different shapes very carefully. At the end, I'll go back through with clean water and a brush and soften the edges of the negative shapes to kind of give them feathery glow.
I'm still working upwards with the reflections here. You can see, too, that I'm starting to layer a really dark wash of Hooker's Green and Burnt Umber (mixed) on TOP of the water that I've already painted...in interesting shapes and such. It really give the water that layered look.
Now, I know what you're thinking....you're thinking "Nooooo, it's too complicated! I can't do that!!! Noooo, don't make me!!!" To which I say, "quit your whining, please and get started....there are harder things in life and this isn't one of them"...in my mother's tone of voice.
Ha... YOU can totally do this! You'll surprise yourself!
I'm coming around the bottom here....and it was at this point that I was a bit stumped as to how to finish...I didn't want to paint ALL of the reflections b/c I felt like it would be too busy on the eye...there wouldn't be any place of rest in the painting. So, after consulting all of my amazing facebook friend artists, we all agreed to leave a large portion of the painting blank with just a tiny bit of detail in it.
Good advice! Thank you!
I'm getting towards the end here. I've really examined my photo and then added any touches that I feel are necessary for the painting to be balanced with lights and darks, soft and hard edges. I've softened up the edges of the duck and softened some spots on his cheek....He's a cutie bug.
Smiling away, I hope that he finds someone's wall sometime soon! I know he will make a lovely addition to any home. He's only $350.00! A steal for the amount of time it took to paint him.
He's 11 x 14 in size and can be mailed.
Happy Painting, everyone!
I recently read an article that was gently criticizing our country's fascination with stardom and radicalism....and how that fascination has subtly infiltrated even the Christian world....("even"...that's funny, b/c basically everything invades the church sooner or later).
The writer brought up an excellent point. Why, if we as believers are not supposed to "let our right hand know what our left hand is doing" or vice versa, why are we so enthralled with writing, blogging, speaking, lifting ourselves up about the things we are doing for Christ...why do we spend so much time and energy trying to radically change the world through huge events, big deeds, dramatic foreign trips....?
In his post, “The New Legalism: Missional, Radical, Narcissistic, and Shamed,” Bradley writes,
“I continue to be amazed by the number of youth and young adults who are stressed and burnt out from the regular shaming and feelings of inadequacy if they happen to not be doing something unique and special. Today’s Millennial generation is being fed the message that if they don’t do something extraordinary in this life they are wasting their gifts and potential. The sad result is that many young adults feel ashamed if they “settle” into ordinary jobs, get married early and start families, live in small towns, or as 1 Thess 4:11 says, “aspire to live quietly, and to mind [their] affairs, and to work with [their] hands.” For too many Millennials their greatest fear in this life is being an ordinary person with a non-glamorous job, living in the suburbs, and having nothing spectacular to boast about.”
The ESV version says, "..But we urge you brethren, to excel still more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need." I Thess 4:10b - 12
Wow...to live quietly, working with our own hands...what a concept in today's culture! Now, I'm all for people traveling, missions, great things happening with the gospel...totally! But a little part of me wonders if our focus has gotten derailed and in the glorious train wreck that has ensued, the specter of Christian "self" has arisen. There just seems to be a lot of self-promotion, self-adulation..self self self...going on in the believing community and I'm speaking to myself here as well! Trust me!
There are times in my life when I look at my ordinary day of laundry, breaking up squabbles, cleaning up cat barf (just this morning...before my cup of coffee, even), stretching the food budget (btw, has anyone noticed that LAST summer, steak was $5.99 a lb and THIS summer, it's $14.99 a lb?) and I think, "God, am I doing enough? Am I advancing your kingdom? B/c I'm pretty sure that Lord of the Rings marathon isn't improving my spiritual life here....that's definitely going in the wood, hay and stubble pile.
But really, what is enough? Do I have to pack my kids up and move to a foreign country to be seen as spiritual enough? (notice how I said, "TO BE SEEN") (aka "to be seen by people") Or is it that God sees the ordinary things...the unseen things....the moment of forgiveness that happens after a disagreement with a spouse....the shoulder you offer to your friend for her to cry on....the time that you listen...REALLY listen to a story your son tells you...Isn't God there, too? Isn't that radical?
Matthew 6: 1 - 4 sums up these thoughts beautifully...poetically....it cuts through the clutter, really:
"Beware of practicing your righteousness before men, to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.
But when you give, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing...(pretty un-radical, eh?) so that your giving will be done in secret ; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."
I guess I'm writing this whole article to myself, really. So much of my life revolves around ME...what I want, what I feel, what I'M in the mood for....and I think that maybe God is gently stretching me to set myself aside and here I am writing about myself, but not to lift myself up, but to let you know my struggle against that sin nature that rears it's ugly head within me, whispering that my world should reflect me, my talents, what I've accomplished...but no.....there is One who is so much infinitely greater than me. One whose life my life should be constantly pointing towards. It is GOD who gets the glory...it is Christ who should be magnified. I decrease so that He can increase in my life.
John Piper writes: "Christ does NOT exist in order to make much of us. We exist in order to enjoy making much of Him. Christ is not glorious so that we get wealthy or healthy. Christ is glorious so that rich or poor, sick or sound, we might be satisfied in Him."
Doesn't that just thrill you to the tips of your toes? To be so satisfied with who we are in Christ, with Him, to be so sure of His sovereignty and magnificent orchestration of this world..... that it doesn't matter what happens around me, I am at rest in Him...Oh, to be at that place! I'm not there, but I want to be, so desperately!
God is in the ordinary things of your life, my friend. Enjoy Him and know that He commands us to just live for him. Shut out the cacophony of all of the talking heads and opinions and ads and movies and music...every one giving you their opinion on what you SHOULD be doing and how you are supposed to be living....in the quiet of your heart, you know that God's Word is true...and what He says is right and good.
"...do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing...."
"...done in secret...."
"...lead a quiet life..."
"...attend to your own business..."
"...work with your hands..."
"...love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength...love your neighbor as yourself."
If you allow the Holy Spirit to help you to do these things, you, and I have accomplished something un-blogworthy, something not worth mentioning..something not worth mentioning on the news or in a magazine or in Reader's Digest....certainly not book worthy!.....but.....
It just might be something radical in God's eyes.
P.S....topic coming soon....why do we have to repeat ourselves so much duri
Hi all! I hope everyone's having a great summer so far! I'm spending it at the pool, wracking up the wrinkles and sun damage so that my kids can get some energy out.
I just finished my latest painting, and as usual, I like to post progression pics and helps so that you can tackle your own projects with confidence. Yay!
So, this latest one I painted from a photo that my husband surreptitiously took when he was in Asia. I'm not sure exactly where. He was riding a ferry somewhere and he snapped this photo of this elderly lady who was waiting for the ferry. I just fell in love with her...her posture, the wrinkled brown skin, the turban on her head and the eclectic shirt...along with the fascinating and textured background...it all made for an interesting project.
The first time I painted her a few years ago, I put her in a show and she sold that night at the show. I guess she was a hit. Recently, I decided to try her again, larger this time...and practice some of the newer techniques that I'm working on. There's a HUGE difference between the two paintings, it's really amazing.
It's kind of funny to think that somewhere in Asia, there's a grandma who has no idea that someone is studying her every feature and turning her into art.
Here's the painting I painted 2 years ago...
Aaaaand, here's the one I just finished....It's fun to see them side by side and see how much I've changed...even my signature has more confidence. ha ha.
Verrrrry interesting.....I'm just looking back and forth and I'm realizing that in the first one, I was committing all of the classic "newer watercolor" artist mistakes....too heavy handed with color being one of them.
Anyhow, here are the step by step pics.
I did mask the flowers on her shirt and parts of the chain link fence. I also masked the light reflection in her eyes b/c I tend to easily lose that. I masked her hair, too, but I ended up painting over it and using some white gouache at the end b/c the masking fluid made it look like she had white worms coming out of her head.
Originally, her shirt was kind of a boring brown, but I decided to liven things up with color this time. I liked many colors I used for the shadowed side of her and how the yellow stands out from the background.
Anyhow, ask me any questions that you might have! I hope this inspires you to find a picture of a grandparent or something and tackle those tricky wrinkles....they turned out to be fun.
Sometimes you need to step awaaaay from the tiny brushes, the details, the itty-bitty time consuming steps and just enjoy the flow in watercolors.
Picking up a large brush and painting an entire quick study in a few minutes clears the mind of the clutter of petals, reflections and shadows and helps you see the larger picture as a whole. I, for one, can get very caught up in the details and I know I need to improve in this area.
Sooo, of course in my style of if-you're-going-to-do-it-do-it-all-the-way....(just ask my husband) , I choose a vase of flowers with literally hundreds of little spaces and tiny fragmented petals and so on and so forth....
PEONIES! Yes! Let's try it!
So, what you want to do with a loose study is just wet certain parts of the flower. After a quick, LOOSE sketch (and I mean loose and quick! No cheating by getting into the details), with your largest brush (mine's a #12) quickly identify the center of the flower and wet just portions, touching in color as you go. You want your strokes to be random and for the colors to be deeper to indicate depth in the petals. I kind of work around in a circular pattern
This is two quick washes. A quick sketch watercolor should take about 15-20 minutes...that's it. I love not having to soften or go back in and get out my smaller brushes.
Try it and see what you come up with!
As always, email me or comment if you have any questions. I'd love to hear from you.
Happy Painting, my friends!
Batik is the art of decorating cloth using wax and dye and actually has been around for centuries. Batik has traditionally been a fascinating and visually stunning way to paint using a process of layering wax and ink on fabric.
I have seen artists use this batik style of painting on rice paper using wax and watercolors and the results are absolutely beautiful. The contemporary style of batik is no longer limited to fabric. Many artists use a resist style of painting on wood, ceramic, paper, leather, etc. using many different tools besides wax and ink.
Since I love the batik look, I have started attempting to use this resist and texture style using watercolors and masking fluid in my artwork. I have been pleased with my first few attempts and while I definitely need to do a lot more experimenting to succeed in this, I'm sharing my first few steps with my readers.
I started out with a general flower painting. I laid on the first few washes and got most of the details down. There are some white edges of the rose that I masked at the beginning.
Allow your page to completely dry before you put on the masking fluid.
After the first wash, I loaded up a script liner (a long thin brush) with a little bit of bar soap (wet, shaved, in a dish) and then with masking fluid. The bar soap helps preserve your brush from the masking fluid.
I flicked and slung the masking fluid on the painting quite a bit. It's a bit hard to see in this photo, but there are a lot of masked areas.
Allow the fluid to dry (I use a hair dryer) and add another layer of color on the painting. When the painting is still wet, but the sheen is gone, I pressed a tissue in different patterns on the paper to create interesting shapes.
When you add another wash of color, lightly wet the entire page again and simply lightly lay on the colors.
Don't overwork it b/c you might lift too much of the underpainting off. Yes, the underpainting might blur a bit, but you'll be able to re-establish your shapes in the end.
I repeated this process twice, adding a layer of masking fluid and then color, adjusting and softening spots here and there while the page is still damp with a clean brush, clean water and a tissue.
After it's dry, take all of the masking fluid off and see what you have! You might have to repaint some corners and edges, soften up some spots and generally add the finishing touches. Experiment with it and have fun!
Here's a sunflower painting that I was teaching a student today.
This already has a first wash on it, the first layer of masking fluid and another wash on the petals.
For the very first wash, I wet the entire page and generally painted on my first lightest colors, steering clear of the petals with the blue background color.
This has a second layer of masking fluid and a second wash on the background and the flower's middle.
I ended up doing three washes total on the background, petals and middle. Softening at the end of a painting is something that I always encourage my students to do.
After the painting is fully dry, take a small clean brush, clean water and a tissue. Soften and clean up the edges of the petals, soften up some spots on the painting here and there, lighten some spots for greater contrast...it really gives the painting a "glow".
If you don't know what I mean by softening, here's an explanation. If you have a ragged petal edge or a spot that has bled, take the brush and lightly scrub that area and then press the tissue on it. The paint should lighten and lift. Different colors lift better than others and different paper will allow you to lift colors more easily than others. It is easier to lift color from Fabriano paper than from Arches, but if you use Fabriano, you might find that your underpainting comes off too much with each wash.
Anyhow, I'd love to hear and see your latest projects! If you have questions, feel free to ask and I'll try to get back to everyone.
I hope this has been helpful to you.
Happy painting, my friends!
Good day, fellow artists! I have been LOVING painting these small square flowers this week. I'm so accustomed to painting these large pieces that painting small has been a treat for me.
So, if you're newer to watercolors, you've mastered some simpler techniques and you want to take your florals to the next level. You want depth, light, something that will challenge you a bit more.
Look no more! (I sound like a car salesman!)
Find a flower pic or take a flower pic that has nice sun and shadow in it. Blow it up or crop it to the square size that you like and start! Or, you can work from real life...which is what we are all SUPPOSED to be doing, but we don't. (naughty!)
I masked some of the edges of the flowers where the sun was shining the brightest.
For the first wash, I like to wet the whole page and get my first soft wash of colors on.
Then, I painted petal by petal, wetting one whole petal and adding color. You kind of have to jump around at this point to let each petal dry before you start on the petal next to it. Use a hair dryer if you're as impatient as I am.
I've painted this lovely yellow dahlia a few times, so it was a quick one for me. You're going to use the same techniques. Wet your whole page first. Allow it to dry completely before you start on your next wash.
Did you know you can digitally frame your artwork on American Frame? Go to the American Frame website, upload your art into a frame with a mat and then capture the screen image (if you have a mac) by holding down command, shift, 4. It'll save the image to your desktop and you can show your customers what your art will look like framed. It's a great tool.
Ok, back to the flower. So, after the first wash, I dried it and then I masked all the little light thin shapes in the center so that I wouldn't have to paint around them.
I had a good bit more trouble with this one. The shadows were complicated and I kind of struggled with that large petal on the left that has a lot of shadow on it. Sometimes I can't decide which colors to use for shadows and I flip flop back and forth. Eh, it's all part of the learning experience.
I was really happy with the first few washes and then once I added that shadow on the left petal, I had problems....but I feel like I rescued it (kind of!) and it wasn't a total loss. I was sweating there for a bit, though. By the third photo, you'll see what I mean. BUT, it's a good lesson on keeping washes lighter so that those "uh-oh" moments are fewer and farther between...lol
I don't know why I kill myself with complicated yellow flowers. Maybe I like the challenge...
This is an odd painting, actually,....the shapes work from far away, but when you get close up, they are just shapes. I'm not quite sure how that happened. Oh well!
So, hopefully this has inspired you to get out there, get some good pics and start a small, but lovely flower painting! I'd love to see your projects and I totally don't mind if you post photos to my facebook page so that we can all enjoy your work.
Happy Painting, my friends!
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'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