A guide to: Watercolour Portrait
“My name is Fiona Roberts, I’m a professional artist, and I’ve been using watercolours as an integral part of my practice for the past few years. I’m drawn to how naturally loose, free and atmospheric watercolours make my work. Using Winsor & Newton Watercolours, brushes and paper, I want to show you how I go about approaching a portrait painting. I hope you enjoy.”
First, I’ll spray my paper with water from a spray bottle then drain off the excess. I want the paper to be damp but not soaked. Then I’ll divide the paper into thirds and place my subject’s eyes level with the line at the top third. This helps with composition in a head and shoulders portrait.
From there, I’ll mix Cadmium Yellow and Indigo to make green before lightly sketching in the shape of the face. I’ll then mix a darker colour of Indigo and Burnt Umber, making sure to add water to keep the paint thin. I’ll sketch in the eyes at the line of the top third.
I’ll use the same colour to paint the nose, mouth, eyebrows, and shadows under the chin and on the face. I use a paper towel to dab paint away on the whites of the eyes and the highlight along the nose. I’ll mix Rose Madder and Indigo to paint the purple jumper.
Next, I’ll use Burnt Sienna for her hair followed by mixing more Burnt Umber and Indigo to further define her facial features and shadows. I’ll then add Rose Madder to her lips, cheeks, nose and corners of her eyes. For darker skin tones, try using Burnt Sienna for these areas.
With a wet brush, I start applying more layers of colour to the hair, jumper and face. At this stage I’ll paint in the background with green made from Cadmium Yellow and indigo. I also add some of this green to the face – skin often has green or blue undertones.
Once the painting is semi-dry, I’ll mix up more Burnt Umber and Indigo using less water so the colour is more intense. Then I’ll darken the areas that are already dark (eyes, eyebrows, nose, mouth and any shadows). This improves the contrast of the final piece and will make it more dramatic.
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Perfect introduction for students, beginners and hobbyists wanting to experiment, hone their skills and work with large quantities of paper.
Mixed fibre widths give excellent spring and superior paint loading In a wide range of shapes and sizes. Perfect with Cotman watercolours.