Every fall we begin our watercolor classes with a portrait class.
We painted people portraiture.
We painted animal portraits.
We grunged backgrounds and painted portraits right on that grunged paper.
Discussions included facial features, skin tones and color theory, composition as it relates to portraiture, and two ways to approach a portrait in watercolor.
If you would like to see all the examples of portraits painted by these artists click here or scroll to the top of the blog and click on the page labeled Student Art: Watercolor Portrait 2016.
Thank you to all my students who share their work here!
I don’t know why I like working on a background that has marks on it already. The above two paintings were drawn and created on watercolor paper that I had “grunged” with coffee, ink, and applied gesso to in advance. Here is a post that describes the process.
It is not just the challenge of working on a surface that has been disturbed that I find interesting. It is examining the marks and finding a subject that they work with or discovering new ways of working with or around abstract marks. It is seeing that all these marks can increase the feeling of depth in some paintings.
The top painting is Teddy, my dog. The bottom one is a self portrait.
The above painting required some planning. I had a photographic reference sent to me from my daughter of this cat laying on his back, his favorite pose. I tried to lay it out and come up with some way to paint him that might be interesting, other than just him in paint. I finally decided on using another reference photo where there were a large assortment of overlapping grasses and combined the two. I also decided to use a sheet of masa paper to enhance the texture and maybe create more interest. I have a tutorial on how to prepare and use masa paper with watercolor here.
The above is my take on a lunar landscape.
The above painting is a gouache resist. I was attempting to create a composition using shapes. I describe how to create a gouache resist here.
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.
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!
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.
Some artists included animal portraiture.
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.
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!
This one makes me chuckle. This is my little dog, Payton. He is FIFTEEN!!! I had fun with this painting and let it sit and sit for the longest time. I wanted to add more…. and more… and more, so it just sat. I finally decided that everything I wanted to add was not in how he looked but who he is and I hope I captured enough of him that you know what I mean when I say this falls short. Many of you share your homes with pets that are dear for all sorts of reasons. Pictures and words just fall a bit short. So, I decided this was finished.
So you could see how I added the watercolor, this is my initial drawing and wash with the Elegant Writer:
This pen will become part of the tools I use in the future. Here was my tutorial on how the Elegant Writer can be used.
This is Abner, my daughter’s beloved weimaraner. I keep returning to a reference photo I took of him quite a few years back. There are many versions of him within this blog. I seem to gravitate to this image when I am trying new techniques. This is my attempt with the “Elegant Writer”.
This is what I came up with following my initial drawing and wetting of the ink lines. I felt I did not achieve enough darks. I went back in a second time and re-inked the lines where I wanted the image to appear darker.
After re-inking the drawing, I re-activated those lines with a brush and water and came up with the above. I think an artist could keep going and developing the ink drawing if they are not anticipating painting with watercolor. I have yet to experiment with this technique and collage, wax resist or some of the other things I create with, but am convinced it is a very versatile medium.
Hope you give it a try!
I began this painting several months ago. I guess I was anticipating summer and warm weather. I wanted to challenge myself to see if I could render these Victorian beauties in some way. I do not consider myself very good at drawing and painting buildings. One thing I know I do not do enough is insert little people or animals into my landscapes. I get so caught up in the “thinking” part of putting landscapes together that I never include a story; and I like stories so much better! I used two separate reference photos to come up with the neighborhood and another for the “little cowgirl”. I made up the older person at the top of the stairs and modeled the dog’s form after the boxer who lives across the street from me. I can remember a time when those red boots and hat would have been my prize possessions, not to mention a man’s best friend to spend the summer with!
Little People are fun to paint. Here are a couple sketches to ad to the mix:
This is another ink and watercolor. I used frisket and inked lines with a #4 round brush this time, prior to spritzing it with water as in the elephant. After all that dried, I washed in the colors. I then removed the friskit and went back in with watercolor and ink. The last thing I did was splatter with a small rigger. Thank you to wet canvas for the beautiful reference image of this dog.
We began this drawing class by learning to “see”, drawing objects, blindly, with what is called blind continuous line. We, then, drew continuous line drawings while looking, paying careful attention to the cross contours in our subject material.
We studied negative space and began to recognize when we could use the shape and space behind an object to help us describe the subject.
The students worked very hard to begin to see perspective and to measure the angles of lines with their pencils. They used a corner of a room as their subject.
During the fourth week, they cut photos in strips and practiced laying in three values. They worked from black and white as well as color photos to do this.
They studied the values they saw in a glass, still life study.
They learned to grid a photograph and measure and enlarge that photograph by creating a proportionate grid on their drawing paper.
They studied drawing their self portraits. If you wish to view a larger selection of their drawings you can find them by clicking here or by scrolling to the top of the page and clicking on the small label Student Art: Beginning Drawing. If you click on each drawing, they will enlarge. Thank you to all the fine artists who took this class!
The above paintings were painted by my three Granddaughters this past weekend. Yes, I have created watercolors and drawings with them since they were little. Their Mothers have also encouraged them with their art. One thing I did not do, however, was purchase less expensive paints, brushes and paper for them to use. I find many of the student grade papers and paints uninspiring, often resulting in dull colors, brush hairs falling out into paintings and paper that tears or won’t hold up to multiple glazes or layers.
All three of them begged me to be able to paint and helped me to tape their paper to the board. The oldest ran for my pile of photo references. They used to select pictures from their coloring books that were easier to draw but would have none of that this time. The 6 chose a portrait of Abner, my daughter’s dog, the 7 chose a photo of my daughters three horses and mini donkey, and the 8 chose a photo of a polar bear! I said, “Are you sure you can do these?” The 8 said, “Yes. We can draw them by feeling the edges of the lines while we draw!” They have all practiced drawing with a continuous line, before. I helped a little, but not a lot! Mostly just to point out an angle of a line or a bump on a horse knee or jaw. The drawing of the polar bear was totally unassisted! I cautioned them about rinsing their brushes before they went back into the palettes for their colors and that was all she wrote. They were off and painting!
Insert, here, praise for their art teachers. The conversation around the table started to revolve around what their art teachers had taught them in school. One Granddaughter stating that her teacher taught her that a painting was just lines, shapes and then add color! Another said her teacher had told her to use bright color and another talked about her teacher teaching them to use the whole page.
And they didn’t get bored! Thank you to all those Moms and Art Teachers out there who recognize the value of creativity for our children. They may never make a living creating art, but they are learning skills that will stick with them a lifetime about exploring, creating and making choices. Plus! They will have one more thing they can enjoy doing in their free time!