Recently I began a watercolor portrait class. When I have taught this class, in prior years, we have jumped right in and begun drawing and painting the whole portrait. About halfway through each class I begin to get questions about how to: paint an eye, paint a nose, paint a mouth. This year I decided to begin the class a little different and demonstrated how I paint an eye and a nose. How there is not much to either but that we rarely take time to study them, separately, in previous classes. This year we took an entire week to just paint pieces and parts of the face and it has made a huge difference. We discussed how much brighter our colors were if we mixed them on the paper as opposed to the palette. We worked with layering the colors on the paper, or mingling them wet-in-wet and came up with examples like the above. Note the various colors to make the grays in the horse’s mouth or the indications of red and gold in the tiger’s black stripes. Both those colors were created with layers of varying reds, yellows and blues. We discussed the varying shades of reds and yellows and blues we had available to create skin tones and how much more vibrant those tones were when we painted them wet-in-wet and reserved the darker tones for the shadows or the rosey colors for the cheeks. We talked about shadows cast under the eyelid, on an eye, or under the upper lip on the teeth.
Next we put these pieces and parts together and just created faces. That seemed to get this class rolling and there have been fewer problems with face parts as a result. I created the following faces: