Thursday, June 25, 2009

Watercolour portraits

To attempt portraits in watercolour is not for the faint hearted! Watercolour is a notoriously difficult medium to work in, and is, in comparison to other media, fairly unforgiving. Whatever technique one is using, whether it be wet into wet or a more considered approach, careful planning is required if your painting is to be a success

The above sketch was done in about one hour using a wet into wet technique. No preliminary drawing was done. Although initially it looked chaotic to the group I was demonstrating to, I was, even at the earliest stage, planning and allowing for my highlights to be preserved. If things go wrong there is still the possibility of lifting out with a sponge or tissue.

The same approach was used in this sketch. Having established the position of the features I started to build up the depth of tone. At various points I dried the painting and went in with a dry brush technique, as in the eyes.

The above was a preliminary sketch I did for a more finished portrait. Again this was completed in less than an hour.

“Mary.” A portrait in watercolours.
This more finished portrait took considerably longer, requiring as it did layer upon layer of transparent glazes to achieve the detail I wanted.
I find watercolour the most amazing medium and one which offers a luminosity and delicacy unrivalled by others.
In a later blog I will demonstrate a watercolour portrait from start to finish and will describe the materials, techniques and colour mixes I use.