More watercolor facial studies….

In my last post I talked about the first watercolor facial study I did for a 21 Secrets class I took. Repeating the technique was not so easy on my next watercolor study which was focused on the nose, a feature I often have difficulty with. I didn’t have any left over skin tone mix from the first one, and several days had gone by, so the skin tones do not match.

nose copy

On the same day, I also worked on a study of the mouth, mostly just the lips.

lips copy

Several more days passed before I worked on the last one, which was the left eye. This one I actually worked on today. In the class, Jodi Ohl demonstrated both the dry method and the wet method for applying watercolor to the paper and though her wet method ended up very loose, mind did not.

right eye copy

I started all of them by wetting the paper first and then applying the watercolor. I will admit the perfectionist in me immediately started trying to control exactly where the colors went. If you haven’t worked with watercolor, then you don’t know how ridiculous that statement sounds. On this last one I tried to be looser than all the others ones and was not very successful. Loose technique in anything, just may not be my style. I’m working on it though. I’m better at loose technique when it is abstract.

After I completed my watercolor study today and it dried, I decided to see how all four of the pieces looked displayed together. Here is what it looks like:

collage 2 copy

She is a bit wonky but that is to be expected since I didn’t lay down all four pieces of watercolor paper and sketch her out first so all portions would be symmetrical. Even so, I like how they all look in a collage. I may mount them this way permanently but not sure at this time.

My next venture in watercolor? Maybe, I’ll try to do her whole face and see if she ends up looking anything like the reference photo.

~Patti

Loving Watercolor

Watercolor is quickly becoming my favorite of all paints to work with. I don’t know how to express the joy I feel every time I work with it. Today was no different.

Most of my watercolor experience has been only recently in the past year. It started with just playing around with watercolor pencils a year ago when I discovered bullet journals. I decided to use watercolor pencils to decorate my pages. I knew absolutely nothing at that time about how to work with watercolor pencils, let alone watercolor paint.

I came across videos on YouTube but my general interest at the time was mixed media, so I was hopping around all over the place watching videos on all different types of mediums. I think the only medium I haven’t touched is oil paints. Some day I might but not right now. I have too many types of mediums I want to perfect my skills within.

I think when I was a teenager watercolor terrified me. I think this because when I returned to studying art, in the past year or so, watercolor was the last thing I considered pursuing other than just simply playing around with it. I never thought I would pursue it as a medium I would desire for any serious art.

Isn’t that how it works sometimes? The things we least desire or think we have the remotest chance of being even close to good at, ends up being that one thing that makes our hearts soar and our souls sing. This is what I’m finding with watercolor.

About a year ago, I purchased 21 Secrets “Tools and Techniques” course. One of it’s lessons is by Jodi Ohl, called Flowing Facial Features. I have probably put off doing this lesson for at least three months if not more. Guess the medium yet? The word ‘flow’ should give you an indication. If you guessed, watercolor, you would be correct.

I studied her videos, watching them in their entirety probably three if not four times before I attempted just one facial feature study. Why did I wait so long? Trepidation for one. My inner critic for another. My perfectionist personality for another. I knew very little about watercolor. I didn’t even know what it meant by stretch the watercolor paper, or how to tape down watercolor paper properly. I tried one time with some painters tape but the tape ended up releasing from all the soaking in the water.

I finally found a video on how to properly prepare for doing a watercolor painting, thanks to Lindsay Weirich’s YouTube video. She has a wordpress blog too.  She does live streams on YouTube, which I try to catch as often as I can.  I don’t know how many videos of hers I have watched before I felt confident enough to try my first facial feature study.

Here it is:

Flowing Facial Features study 1

I had a couple issues, that involved retaining the white spaces, especially the white highlights in the eye. My paint ended up bleeding into the space I had reserved for the highlight so when I finished with the watercolor paints, I used colored pencil to bring out the highlight more. White for the highlight and some black around the highlight and pupil to bring it out more.

I also, over worked the eyelashes but once overworked I couldn’t undo it, so I used some black colored pencil to try and bring forward some eyelashes hoping the rest might look like shadows or would recede enough to not distract. Lesson learned though for the next eye on my facial studies.

I have three more sketches I did for the facial feature studies. Another eye with a partial nose, a nose with a partial eye, and the lips. In the end, I hope they will create a full face when tiled together.

What I learned while working on this piece was even if it looks like the color is too dark when I apply it to paper, it isn’t the end of the world. I can lift some of it up to lighten it. Something I’m learning to do without scrubbing and pilling the paper. After working with acrylics it is sometimes hard to remember to not apply pressure when doing a slight bit of scrubbing.

I love that Jodi Ohl recommended focusing on one facial feature. It took the pressure off of trying to paint a full face. I need to take this approach in other things like drawing. I become overwhelmed when I consider creating a large piece, even if it is just a face with all its features. It can be rather daunting.

I used to think watercolors were unforgiving and difficult to keep some semblance of control over. That is the perfectionist within me wanting everything to come out perfectly. She doesn’t believe that something that will bleed and move around on its own could end up in all the right places creating a beautiful piece of art. I’m working on proving her wrong. I think I made a beautiful start at it today.

Feel free to leave a comment if you feel moved to do so.

~Patti