19 December 2010

Her watchful place WIP

Here's a work in progress, another portrait painting for the online portrait group I belong to. I'll post the finished image later (if it ever gets finished, you never know!), but as I remembered to take some pics along the way this time, I thought I'd share them here. Colours used were scarlet lake, new gamboge, lemon yellow, ultramarine blue, burnt sienna, payne's grey, sepia, indigo.

 I started off with a drawing, using a grid to help me place the features and to speed up the drawing process. A good drawing is an absolute must I reckon. I then put in some initial washes - a warm yellow on the left, a cool yellow on the right, and a blue wash for some areas of the face, hair and surrounds, all according to what I reckoned I could see in the reference photo.

 I let the washes dry completely (this is where I often run into trouble with watercolour, being impatient and diving in too soon!). I've added some red/orangey and purple tones to the hair and ear shadow.

Again on dry paper, I've put in a reddish wash across the face, defining the areas of shadow and light. For the neck, which is pretty much entirely in shadow and darker than the face, I've gone with a purple wash. For the highlights, I either avoid painting the area altogether, or I use kitchen paper to blot away the colour where it's not needed, which actually produces a nice soft gradation for the edges, good for portraits.

More thin washes and blotting of highlights, and defining of shadows, under the eyes for example.

Yet another thin layer or two on the face, plus I added the background colour.

More layers to deepen the skin tones and blotting of highlights and pale areas on the face, and I've added texture to whatever it is she's hiding behind (something wooden, anyway). At this point it was looking a bit blotchy, but not to worry, it can be fixed with more washes...

 ...so more washes, drying in between, to smooth out the blotchiness a bit. This is the point I've left it at, though I think it still looks a bit blotchy, and I'm wondering whether I can go deeper with the skin tones without it getting overworked. But she does have a bit of a ragamuffin feel as is, so maybe I'll leave it...

Watercolour, 11" by 15". Reference photo by babasteve on Flickr, under Creative Commons.


  1. Wow Sharon!
    Fascinating to see the portrait develop - and she's looking great so far xx

  2. Thanks Pat :-)
    I'm leaning towards doing a bit more work on this one, to deepen the skin tones further and hopefully smooth her out a bit...

  3. Thank you for your very thorough description of your process. I tried watercolour earlier this year,but I am too impatient for all the drying periods required--I have problems with that with my acrylics. Luckily,they are much more forgiving and corrections are easier. The portrait is coming along great. Your other work shows you do know what you're doing.

  4. Thanks Linda, it's a pleasure to share a work in progress, I know I enjoy seeing them myself and find them very useful.

  5. Sharon, this is a wonderful WIP and appreciate your sharing it.

    I want to take this opportunity to wish you and yours a wonderful Christmas and a very Happy New Year.

  6. Thanks Ann, it's a pleasure to share (it does help when I remember to take pics along the way!)

    Best wishes for Christmas and the New Year :-)


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