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!
© Copyright Cady Driver 2016 - All Rights Reserved
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