I had just half an hour to spare yesterday for making a quick picture, so I chose to try a little portrait sketch, as more practice on faces is always useful. I found a becoming photo of my lovely friend Shona which I thought would be a good start – enough detail visible to give me a chance of making it look somewhat like her, while not enough detail to make me get bogged down in fiddly bits (ever my weakness).

Shona watercolourI started with a pencil sketch, and blocked in some colour, starting with a rosy pink-orange flesh tone, which I feared might be a bit strongly coloured as I put it on, but which settled down as it dried. Next was the process of layering on some shadows and browns for detail and finally adding the hair and eyes. I was rather worried when I added the Payne’s Grey into the hair, but on reflection I rather like the effect it’s produced. I also like the highlight on the right cheek. When I started the sketch I thought it was going to be line and wash, but it turned out that in this case the watercolours were all I needed.

Although I haven’t managed to make an exact likeness of my friend, I can see that there is something of an essence of her here, which I’m really pleased to have captured.


12 thoughts on “Friend

      • I’m not good at shading in WC. I’m afraid it’d go horribly awry. I may do another cp portrait soonish, though. I used to do famous faces, and people would guess…it was fun. Was this your first WC portrait?

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      • I did some watercolour face sketches a while back on this blog, which were my first attempts. Not one of them looked like the person I was trying to show! I think that the combination of the pastel portraits I did and the other general work in watercolours has helped with this one: the portraits for ‘getting my eye in’ about faces; and the other paintings for helping me understand how the watercolour is *likely* to behave. But I still think a lot of it comes down to taking the risk and having a bit of luck!

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      • Pastel, charcoal, cp all allow blending. For me, that was very helpful. I admire people who can do WC portraits, and yours is beautiful, but I’m not sure if that’ll ever be me. This one is really terrific though, I think!

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      • Thanks, but never say never! I like to blend too, having been a big graphite devotee. I spent the first 40 years of my life being afraid of using colour and paint because I was afraid of ‘failure’. The watercolour forces you to think differently, and to let fate take a hand. I’ve finally relaxed, and realised that it’s a long and fruitful learning journey… and ‘failure’ and ‘success’ on the way are merely incidental to enjoying the process. If you’ve accepted that, you’re halfway there!

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