Watercolor with a tad bit of Acrylic…

I surprise myself sometimes. This is one of those times. The below painting is from the Pull, Pen, Paint course I’m taking online. This is the first time I attempted a portrait using watercolor. In different art lessons I have taken, almost all of the instructors state to not give up when your painting looks like a mess. It is hard to believe them when they say, if it is a mess then you are doing something right, because if you keep going the results will be amazing. I have to admit, there were several times, I had some “Ah, shit” moments and my inner critic would tell me “It will never turn out the way you want it to.” Well, my inner critic was right. It turned out better than I had planned.

I started with a pencil sketch. Then started in with watercolor, wet on dry for the face. I didn’t have flesh tone in my watercolors, so I had to mix my colors. The first brush stroke I put down had an immediate response of, “Oh shit, that’s too dark.” I continued though, using techniques I saw other painters do, like taking a slightly wet brush without any paint on it to blend and push the darker color where I wanted it to go.

I can’t describe every part of what I did because I really don’t remember everything. I know I pushed the paint around, even got some pilling of the paper but only slightly and I would back off a bit when that would happen. The face was all wet on dry or mostly dry, because it does become damp from the paint I’m applying but I never made it sloppy wet. I left that for the hair, the background and the blouse.

The hair was done next, once I had the face mostly to where I wanted it. I always have trouble finalizing the face until I have the hair in. The hair changes everything about the face. What once looked dark, becomes lighter. I put down yellow, and added water to spread it around more, added brown to get some texture and shading. Then I went to the background and the shirt.

The background and the shirt were wet on wet. Red down first on the shirt. Then black for the background. I blotted some of the excess water up which gave the background a nice texture. Then I layered slightly watered down acrylic gold metallic, not just on the black background but also over the hair and the blouse.

This is where it gets fuzzy as to what all I did. I returned to the face and added some details in black watercolor, and brown for the eyes, and added some blue to the skin tone to get some a blueish grey color for shading. I needed deeper shading, and less pinkish/brown. Then I added the black around the eyes and eyelashes, and other details around the face. I was pretty happy with it but needed some highlights.

I went to acrylic vanilla to blend in and push back the shading on her face. Then white acrylic for some brighter highlights. I added black and white acrylic to the hair which really brought the colors out and added dimension.

Pull, Pen, Paint is a course about using Tarot to inspire our art. I took three things from my Tarot drawing. A color pallet of gold, black and red. A feeling of being kind and gentle with myself. An inner desire to create a woman which embodied the essence of the Tarot reading.

During the painting, a storm blew in. Thunder sounded, and rain poured down, and the rather warm day turned into a cool cleansing.  As I write this, I look out my window. The rain still comes down but not in the hard downpour of earlier. Classical music has been playing all day while I worked. I’m happy with what I’ve created.

I have another page with another sketch waiting for paint to be applied. It is an idea I have for Journal52’s prompt Emerge. I’m excited to get started but need to finalize this one, and sign it.

Oh, I discovered a few days ago, I can’t do a web store on WordPress from a free WordPress account, so if I want to sell any of my work, I’ll have to purchase web hosting that will allow for a web store. I’m not sure what I’ll do about that right now.




Practicing faces…

I’ve been working on learning how to draw faces for a few months now. The challenge being to get past the blocks and the loud voice of my inner critic telling me I can’t draw portraits that will look anything at all like the real person.

I’m doing my best to ignore her or put her on other duties while I work.

Page 4 Reference Image Florence Colgate

A picture of Florence Colgate I found online to use as a reference for my drawing.

I think the completed picture came out fairly good considering I have only been practicing for a few months and not every day, sometimes going weeks without drawing a face.

Page 4

This is my final drawing done in pencil on light yellow card stock.


The thing I find interesting is how scanning a drawing can show discrepancies in a drawing more so than just looking at the real drawing.

I didn’t notice the slight tilt in her mouth until I started writing this blog. That’s okay though. I’m learning and improving and that is what counts and what makes me happy.

I decided to use my handmade journal that is pictured in an earlier post which contains different colored card stock for its pages and some pocket envelopes. I may use the envelope pockets to store copies of the reference photos to keep with the journal.

I  can’t find the words to express how this drawing makes me feel. When I first started drawing it this evening I had many moments of my inner critic chatting away at me telling me the eyes were off, the mouth wasn’t right, the nose was all wrong and that I’d never be able to draw her with any semblance of accuracy. Instead of telling her to shut up, I listened to her critiques, made some erasures, redrew the mouth (several times), fixed the eyes, and so on.

I’m finding that my inner critic isn’t there to just get in the way but is also there to help me learn and challenge myself. Without her I may never have made the changes I did tonight to come up with the drawing that I now post.

I didn’t use any special pencil. I have a mechanical pencil (Energize Pencil by Pentel) with .7 lead. I use a paper stump to blend and shade and a white eraser. That’s it. Drawn on 65 lb card stock from Michaels. This is my cheapest form of art I could possibly do and what makes it nice is I can carry it with me anywhere I go.

I won’t be painting my drawings in my journal because the card stock won’t hold up well to the wet medium. I will at times use other dry mediums like colored pencil, charcoal and pastels but for now, graphite makes me very happy.