Tuesday, November 23, 2010

HOW TO paint a watercolor portrait

To paint a portrait, first you will need to choose your subject. You can use a "real person" which is a wonderful way of doing it or you can choose any picture. I usually go with pictures. This gives me more flexibility as far as time plus it's a little hard to keep the children still. For this demonstration I chose a picture of my sister and I that was taken about 25 years ago.
You will need the following supplies: paper (I always choose Arches, it's well worth to spend extra on a better paper), brush or several brushes (here I'm going to work with 2 brushes, size 10  & 4), paints (I use Cotman tubes) & palette for your paints, a pencil and a jar of water.
I always start with a quick outline sketch. You can choose to use tracing paper or a light box if you have problems with proportions. Here, I decided not to follow the picture exactly but paint a more close up version of it. After, I've finished with the sketch, I apply first layers of color, I use a lot of water in this faze.


Then, I start with details. You can see it on the 2nd picture - how I've added some shading to the skin and the shirts. I also continue with adding more color everywhere else - here I've started on the railing.

From then on,  I continue adding  more and more details which you can see on the following 2 pictures:

First, I continued adding more skin tone / shading, more details on the shirt and railings. Later I've added background, more details on the girls and most importantly, I've started with the eyes. Eyes really give life to the  face and you can see the faces become alive in the picture on the right.

From then on it's a little more details here and there until I'm finished. It's hard to make yourself stop because there are always little spots that don't look perfect, but at the same time, you don't want the picture to look overworked. Below is the finished product:

If I was to give an advice to anybody who's trying to paint or draw, I'd have to quote one of my teachers, Chris Dorman, who always said: "Paint what you see, not what you know". For example you know that the railroad tracks never meet, but they might meet on the horizon of your painting because that's how you see them. 

Below is the portrait next to the original picture. This way you can compare and critique the two: 

If you would like to learn more about my art  please visit my blog: www.feelingartsy.blogspot.com 
Thank you Poletsy for having me share some of my "secrets" with you!
Kasia Blanchard


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