The above is a simple watercolor sketch I used as an example for my landscape class. This week we talked about putting “Little People” in our landscapes. I look back through all the landscapes I have painted and less than a third of them have people in them. What’s that about? People create interest for the viewer and can be used to lead the eye through a landscape or support a story the artist may be trying to tell, or just give life to a scene. Sometimes they are like little stick figures and sometimes they are a little larger, like I painted, here. I will outline how I created these. However, there are two very good tutorials for this on You Tube here and here.
This is the simple sketch I drew on my paper. If the figures are really small, I skip this step or frisket them out in advance. Note that I do not include a lot of detail. If the people face me, I often eliminate eyes nose and mouth on them and just use shadows I see to suggest facial features.
I usually begin with painting my skin tones, first. If the figure is tiny I may cover the entire figure with the skin tones and let the additional colors for their clothes run through that color. In larger figures, I look for how the light hits the people and leave the lights unpainted. Note: the stripe of white on arms and legs
I then give then clothes and allow the pigment to bleed into the skin tones. If it is too dark, I lift some of the color while it is still wet. I pay attention to where the clothes are lighter and darker. Note: the light on both figure’s shoulders and shorts
Select a color that you are using and puddle a shadow at your figures’ feet. This grounds them to the page and enhances the feeling of light. I then painted the hair a on the woman and the hat on the guy. The lady did not have a ponytail in the reference photo. That was all mingling pigment, a happy accident, and I decided to keep it. Added the frisbee, at this point.
I chose to frisket the splash around the dog. The two things that made the dog work was the highlight on the body defining his form and the shadow that grounded him to the page.
The last step was to fill in the landscape around them and remove the frisket from the splash.