Monday, February 28, 2011

Railroad Man, WIP

Began this watercolor this morning based on a reference photo provided by Kevin Wueste for the Wet Canvas Portrait Challenge.

This morning I watched the portrait video of Mary Whyte painting a young man wearing glasses at  She starts with a drawing that shows the shapes of the different areas within the face - the shadows, the highlights and lights, with the rest of the area being the mid-tones.  She said she always starts her paintings from the top, working her way down.  As a base for shadows, Ms. Whyte laid in ultramarine blue then immediately dropped in red tones.  Wonderful, at least when she does it.  I tried that with the forehead area and it doesn't look too bad IRL but it will require more value structure. 

The dark background is painted with Perm. Alizarin Crimson, Indanthrene Blue, Hookers Green, Fr. Ultra. Blue, and Raw Sienna, tying the background colors into the darks of the blue hat the man is wearing.  I wish my camera would pick up the colors in the background instead of seeing mostly blue.

My goal was to paint one small area at a time, leaving some white shapes.  I can see at this stage that I'm not achieving my goal very well, The reference photo shows light on both sides of the face with the shadows down the middle (backlighting).  Will be quite interesting and challenging to paint this. 

Another portrait video I watched at was by Jean Pederson.  A wonderful video, chock full of information.  Ms. Pederson also does a detail drawing (map) of the face.  Both of the videos mentioned here are well worth watching if one wants to learn more about portraiture and watercolor.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Young Girl, Watercolor Overworked

This watercolor is so overworked and lost the shapes.  I posted this just so you can see what happens when one doesn't let the paper dry inbetween layers.  I could resort to pastels or acrylics to salvage this but I'm going to let this one rest while I go on to another painting. 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Little Girl Sketch

 In my last post, I titled this a Young Boy when actually it is a little girl.  She has a barrette in her hair.  As you can see in the comparison photo below, a lot of changes were made this morning. The eyes were lowered, shortened the nose, moved up the lips and chin, changed the shape of the face a little, and added some shading.  It looks more like her I think.   

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Little Girl Sketch

Little girl sketch for the February challenge at the online portrait group.  The reference photo used is by Grunge from the Wet Canvas Reference Image Library.

In looking at this on the computer monitor, I think his left eye (our right) needs to a little lower and maybe moved in toward the nose just a little too.  Possibly the left side of his face also needs to be a little narrower.  Will wait though until it is critiqued at the portrait group to make any changes.  Once critiqued and any changes that need to be made are done, the drawing will be transferred to watercolor paper.  The sketch is on 9" x 12" drawing paper using a mechanical pencil.

You might be interested in knowing that this sketch was begun using the Andrew Loomis circle and cone.  The bottom of the circle would be the bottom of the nose where the area below that would fit in the cone.

P.S. Title corrected to reflect this is a little girl

Male Sketch

Drew this man yesterday using a mechanical pencil as a base for a painting.  The reference photo was provided by Kevin Wueste for use in the Paint Together thread in the Portraiture Forum at Wet Canvas.  You can click on the link to see the reference photo.

I didn't go for values in this sketch but concentrated more on placement, shape of features and lines, so the drawing can be transferred to watercolor paper.  It took a lot of time to do this with lots of erasing and redrawing lines.  I may have his head tilted a bit too far but overall I'm pleased with the sketch. 

I don't think I could go to a life drawing class because it takes me so long just to get feature placement lined up lol.   Still it would a challenge and good practice to actually draw and paint from life. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Barbara, Update 2

After receiving helpful suggestions from members in the Portraiture Forum at Wet Canvas and the Portrait Forum at Painting Friends, more changes were made.  I want to thank them all for their encouragement and their valuable help.  

A comparison photo of the before and after changes.  You will notice that I made her neck a bit younger looking by smoothing out the values with less emphasis on the drooping skin.  Hope she likes this drawing even though I see things that could be improved. 

One other thing I would like to mention is that the paper is actually a soft white and not all gray as shown in the photos.  The photos were taken indoors with fluorescent and incandescent lighting.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Barbara, Update

This is updated drawing.  The right side of her face has been narrowed.  The lips, nose and hair were reworked as well as other areas.  Below is a photo of the before and after versions of the drawing for comparison. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


7 1/2" x 11"
Bristol Vellum

This is my third drawing of Barbara.  Again, it resembles her but there is still something off so will have to study this for awhile and make some corrections.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Starting From Scratch, Drawing the Head

I've decided to start from scratch by reading and practicing the drawings in the books by Andrew Loomis.   Starting with his book, "Drawing the Head and Hands", he states the cranium is shaped more like a ball.  The sketches aren't great but the focus isn't on a good sketch but on placement of the facial features.  In his book, there are several plates (photos) of head sketches in different positions.  Sketching the heads on these plates is good practice for learning to place the features and for sketching the head in general.  

A line is drawn through the center of the ball and that is known as the equator.  A vertical line is draw from the top center to the bottom of the ball, this is called the axis.  The center line (equator) being the brow line with the area to the top of the ball representing the forehead.  The center line to the bottom of the ball represents the length of the nose.  Measure the nose line along the axis from the center line to bottom of the ball, then mark that measurement from the bottom of the nose line to indicate the placement of the chin. 

You can see I practiced drawing circles but I also practiced holding the pencil in a different manner, which made everything feel very awkward.  With time and practice, the method of holding the pencil in a more horizontal position between my thumb and fingers, will become more comfortable. With the pencil in this position, I make a concerted effort to draw using the full range of motion from the arm/shoulder.  You can see in the last photo that I have my little finger lightly touching the paper, to give my hand better balance. 

Not sure how much sketching will be done today as the windows in the house are being replaced, so that means moving furniture, taking down drapes, etc.  I will be sketching in my head though, thinking about facial features, eye sockets, the hinges of the jaw and mentally drawing freehand circles.  

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Young Girl, Reworked Mixed Media

I reworked the original watercolor painting of the young girl with some acrylics on the face and shirt.  The background blues to the right of the ear are more of a purplish blue.  A bit of light could be added to the lower ear lobe and a decrease of light could be done on the area above and left (viewer's left) of the upper lip.   Think I will call this one finished. 

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Young Girl, Splotchy Skin Tones

As you can see below, the painting ( and paper) is overworked.  The skin tones and hair color are splotchy and not dark enough.  Look at the hair line above her left ear which looks like she has the beginning of a mohawk hair cut.  My initial goal was to have the red tones shine through the dark areas, deepening (darken) the skin with blues, purples and greens. 
I'm showing this so you can see what happens when I'm feeling indecisive and hesitant about how to proceed with a painting and end up using too weak a wash instead of stronger color.  I dislike giving up on a painting so will save this one instead of throwing it in the round file (trash).  My thought is to use acrylics to rework the skin tones and hair.  

I'm ready to begin a new painting of this young lady and have the drawing transferred to a clean piece of watercolor paper.  Hope you stay tuned and that you will wish me success with the painting!

On a side note, it is snowing.  The perfect time to take photos for my photo reference file.  I'm hoping this is the last snow/ice of our winter. 

Monday, February 07, 2011

Young Girl, WIP

It looks a mess doesn't it.  I've washed away some of the color and the yellow tones are a bit more reddish.  Did you notice the blooms?  My next step is to do the eyes then go from there even though I'm not feeling very positive about this painting and may end up starting over.  I've noticed I've been very hesitant on this painting, not sure of color mixes even though I did color swatches. Still it is good to share some of the messes that can occur and hopefully share how those messes can turn in to a fairly decent painting.  Wish me luck! 

The reference photo is by Babasteve (Steve Evans) on Flickr, under creative commons. I've tried to look closely at the skin tones to determine colors in the different areas of the face.  The palette for this painting is quin. burnt orange, Trans. Red Oxide, Fr. Ultramarine Blue, Pthalo Blue, Cerulean Blue, Viridian, Quin. Violet, New Gamboge and Azo Yellow.   I've been using mostly a #12 or #14 Escoda kolinsky round (the writing is worn off on the handle) and synthetic #6 round.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Dowell, Revised

I worked on this drawing of my brother this morning and this looks much more like him.  I hope he is pleased with it. 

Saturday, February 05, 2011


This is today's work using a reference photo of my brother.  The photo was taken with a flash and hope I compensated enough so it doesn't look so obvious.  It looks like him although I don't remember his neck being that fleshy in real life but drew what I saw. 

Friday, February 04, 2011

2nd Try, Child Sketch

Remember the sketch from a reference photo by Babasteve (Steve Evans) on Flickr, used with his permission for our online portrait group practice?  The first photo shows today's effort and the second photo shows the first sketch.  In the second photo, the face was a bit too elongated.  I am trying to get a reasonable resemblance so this can be painted for the portrait group. 

Fancy Dancer Sketch

Still trying to sketch this Fancy Dancer from a reference photo taken at the Bell Pow Wow.  He looks very cartoonish and stiff with the body proportions off.  I can see how I want him to look in my mind but transferring that to paper has eluded me thus far. 

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Ribbon Dance Sketch

Sketched this from a reference photo taken at the Bell Pow Wow of two young girls waiting to perform the ribbon dance.  In looking at this sketch, I noticed the smaller girl looks like she is leaning which indicates to me I don't have her center of gravity (stance) correct so that she looks balanced. 

Chinese New Year

Gift Envelope Front
Gift Envelope back
Gift Envelope pattern

Today is the beginning of the Chinese New Year, if my information is correct, and I'm wishing all of you a happy, healthy, prosperous, successful New Year.  On this day, money gifts are given in red envelopes to recipients for good luck in the coming year.  Since I didn't have a red envelope, i made one. 

Remember when I said a couple of days ago I had painted peppers but couldn't show them?  Well, I flipped that painting over and painted the practice rose posted yesterday.  This morning i cut that paper into an envelope pattern.  Yeah, the cuts aren't perfect but it gives you the general idea on making an envelope for use as a gift holder.  Now, to glue the flaps and stick in some money. 

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

My Continuing Struggle with Roses & the Google Art Project

 A study in progress

Yesterday, I started this study of a rose, using a reference photo taken a year or so ago.  My goal is to maintain some white space (highlights), some lighter areas, with mid-values and darks to shape the rose.  Red roses are difficult for me to paint.  It is that simple.  It might have helped if I had drawn the rose first but I used the brush and painted in the darks first, added mid-value reds then used a damp brush to lighten the value for form.

In the second photo, the paper was spritzed  to wash away what was painted in the background and some of the rose. The third photo shows the overworked, ill-planned painting.  Still it is all a learning experience.  Hope you don't mind seeing the failures as well as the one that I think work. 

Have you heard about the Google Art Project?   Click the link and check it out.  What do you think about it?  I find it a wonderful way to visit the different galleries and view at least some of the artwork since I can't visit them in real life.  

I forgot to mention in Monday's post that the reference photo (I think by Ian Bruce) used for the grasaille underpainting was from Wet Canvas.  Always important to give the photographer credit for his work.