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Monthly Archives: October 2015

We just completed our yearly Watercolor Portrait Class! These artists are just amazing me with their paintings. Every single one of them just keep improving with each year that goes by.

Laura Lyndsay3

Laura Lyndsay3

We began the class by studying and painting parts of portraits. We discussed what things on a face define the likeness of someone. Some practiced hands, too!

Leslie Vrchota

Leslie Vrchota

The next week, we discussed the general measurements of a head and the facial features. We learned to crop a photo and measure the format of our watercolor paper to be dimensionally correct to the reference. We then learned to grid each of them to help us get accurate proportions to our drawings and paintings.

Roxanne Yoquelet

Roxanne Yoquelet

Some artists included animal portraiture.

Kathy Smierciak

Kathy Smierciak

We discussed composition and where our center of interest could be located and cropped our photo appropriately. We talked about value and how we needed contrast. Some artists included figurative work.

John Kelty3

John Kelty3

We learned how to paint little people because we have a landscape class coming up and are thinking we might like to work toward including figures in our landscapes.

I was most impressed, however, with the night we explored creating a grunge background and then painted a portrait onto that background.

Any of the above paintings can be enlarged by clicking on them.

There are 62 works of art, right now, on the student Portrait page. You can access them by scrolling to the top of this post and clicking on Student Art: Watercolor Portrait 2015 or by clicking here.

Thank you, again, to all the artists who share their work here!

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grungetoy

The above painting was done on a surface that I kind of made up myself. I have long admired paintings done on backgrounds that have been disturbed in some way, maybe by other mediums or by textures added with paper, etc. I studied several different journal artists’ videos and a couple of water media artists’ videos in order to come up with this. I like backgrounds with glued-in and sanded papers but was not able to come up with a background that the watercolor worked easily on. Those backgrounds seem to require some use of acrylics, also. I wanted to avoid that since I teach watercolor and I wanted my students to be able to experiment with this.

If you are interested, I have outlined the steps we took for creating a grunge background for our portraits.

grungetoy2

We began by splattering or brushing on coffee. We dried this stage with a hairdryer before moving to the next application.

grungetoy3

Next, we splattered and brushed on gesso. We did this in two different ways.  We watered down some of the gesso 50/50. That was so the marks would only partially show through the watercolor pigment. We, then, applied some of the gesso straight, knowing that our paint would slide off of it and reveal the white of the gesso. We then dried this, completely, before moving to the next stage.

grungetoy4

In the next step, we watered down waterproof black ink and splattered that onto the paper. We could soften some of these marks by spritzing them with a spray bottle. This stage is better when you follow the less is more policy. Allow this stage to dry completely before proceeding.

grungetoy5

After preparing the surface, we all looked for a portrait that might work well with the background we had come up with. We chose portraits just because it is a portrait class we are in right now. This kind of background would work for any subject. Once we found our portrait reference we wanted to use, we turned our splattered paper around until we found the best imagery in the splatter for what we wanted to paint on it. Note that I turned my paper around 180 degrees for my subject. We drew the portrait on in graphite.

grungetoy6

The above is an example of my first washes. We just begin painting the portrait as we normally would.

grungetoy7

When I arrived at this point, I began to make decisions about placing more darks and bringing the image of the toy and girl out of the background more. I really liked how the gesso and the ink added abstract effects that I had very little control over. We were able to go back in with gesso, coffee and ink if we wanted to. I was getting good results with just what I had. We also knew we could collage and use colored pencil or wax resist in areas we may need to.

grungetoy

The above is my finished portrait.

I hope this gives you something new to try or consider when you sit down to paint. I decided I would not be so hasty, in the future, to throw away a stained or soiled piece of watercolor paper. It may just be that it would add to a painting rather than detract!

 

I just finished teaching a six week class of beginning drawing. I have posted a selection of drawings on a page that you can reach by clicking here. Thank you to all the students who contributed their work to this post and the attached page.

Here is a description of some of the things we worked on in this class:

Andrea Ritter

Andrea Ritter

We worked on blind continuous line and looking continuous line drawings. The students were asked to feel the form of what they were drawing. We did this with hands and apples and self portraits and they practiced with other objects they found around their home for homework. We discussed and practiced cross contours, not just the outlines of things we were studying.

Rose Clair

Rose Clair

We studied negative space and drew the shapes we viewed between the legs and supports of a stool in order to find the positive shape of that stool. Drawing the shapes between the edges of the leaves of plants and slats on a chair are good for practice seeing negative space and shapes.

Andrea Ritter2

Andrea Ritter2

Donald Cooper4

Donald Cooper4

We learned to measure shapes and to determine angles with our pencils and how to translate them onto our page. Everyone practiced this skill by drawing an interior room. We learned that objects overlap in space and get smaller when distant. We learned that objects became blurry and less clear in the distance and that all these things enhanced depth in a drawing. This helped us to get our drawings into perspective and to become more believable.

Rose Clair3

Rose Clair3

On the 4th week we began to study value. We, first, studied the different ways we could shade and make marks; side of pencil, pointillism, crosshatching, squiggles and lines rendered side by side.

We used photos of strips of eyes to practice shading in the value shapes in medium and dark tones, leaving the white of the paper for our lights.

Susie Covitt3

Susie Covitt3

We also cut a colored photo into strips and studied the value changes in color by translating the shapes of values we saw into graphite.

Susie Covitt4

Susie Covitt4

We practiced drawing and shading clear glass objects from life. Note how this artist used different pencil marks to indicate the contours of the bottles.

Dianna Chad3

Dianna Chad3

We practiced drawing and shading a self portrait as viewed in a mirror. We all remarked about the “self portrait stares” we were getting. 🙂

Donald Cooper

Donald Cooper

Andrea Ritter3

Andrea Ritter3

We learned to grid a photo and transform the format of the photo and the grid onto our drawing paper.

Dianna Chad4

Dianna Chad4

We used all the skills we had learned to draw a still life of a pile of boxes.

Viewers can enlarge any of the above drawings by just clicking on them.

maineman

We start every year with a portrait class. We have artists of all levels creating and painting together.  It really is fun. One thing I am always amazed by is the effort they put into portraiture. For some reason, we just can’t approach a portrait of a person or pet, that we know, without wanting that “likeness”.  I think it is that and that alone that gives portraiture the “Oh, that’s hard” label. I enjoy portraits of all kinds: abstract, distorted, funky. I try to stress that we will always capture an essence of what we are working on and that it is the body of work that counts. We artists just need to relax into the journey.  That said, this was my personal challenge this year for a portraiture likeness. This is my Brother-in-law and I will await the verdict (from those who know him) because I never know when I have rendered a likeness.