Sunday, August 10, 2008

Happy Birthday Laketrees Ladies - painting loosely from a B&W photo

Here is a great little exercise for those of you who are bogged down by details and cannot seem to conquer "painting loosely": use a B&W photo on the computer (don't print it out) for reference!

One of my favourite blogs to visit is for many reasons.

I am an Australian/Canadian living in Canada, but missing Sydney, so visiting Australia on the blogosphere is as close as I'm going to be for at least the next year or more...

I love art, especially portraiture, and Kim has such a unique style that I love to view.

She has great contests, and I think it's a wonderful idea. I have decided to host a contest of my own in the fall for a free portrait - what a lovely Christmas gift for one of my blogging friends! Check back for more info in September.

And of course, Kim combs the universe for little interesting tidbits of information that I always find either entertaining or useful (or sometimes both!)

So in honor of Kim's birthday, and her daughter Charlotte, I splashed down some color for a very loose, impromptu portrait of Charlotte (reference photo can be found at Laketrees).

Here's how I did it:
I used a block of Arches 140lb cold press for easy portability and sat down in front of my iMac with HB pencil and white eraser (never use those crappy pink things on the end of your pencil on watercolor paper - it will ruin the fibres)
I measured out a 2.5 x 3.5 inch (ACEO) frame and started sketching the general face shape, using my thumb as a guide for size. Notice how the outer edge of Charlotte's eye forms a nice diagonal line all the way along her nose to her lips? That makes for easy reference!
I sketched the nose and lips, then went up to the eye - it was a bit off for the first couple rounds but in the end I feel I got the right shape.
The reference photo is in b&w, so I was able to use whatever colors made me happy. I moved away from the computer at this point and let my mood be my guide. Happy is how I feel, so I chose Quinacridone Rose, Quinacridone Gold, and Cerulean Blue. That's it! A 3-colour portrait. The dark eye color was achieved rather easily: I cheated and never erased the pencil from underneath. And then at the last minute I decided to add a touch of Pyrelene green to the eye for a richer dark. So I guess that makes it a 4-colour painting, but really...who's counting?
And remember - anything that you want to be white, you have to leave free of any color. So go easy on the hair if you want to achieve a lot of highlights.

Last but not least - use a BIG brush because it's impossible to paint a lot of tiny details when you use a big brush. It will free you, I promise!

(note to new watercolor enthusiasts: it is almost impossible to erase pencil marks once a layer of paint has been applied, so anything you don't want to show - erase FIRST)

Happy Birthday Charlotte & Kim!


cuteartworld said...

Happy Birthday Laketrees Ladies wow that is so cool Christy! What a great idea. Thank you so much for all you do and your terrific ideas!

Stacy said...

What a very helpful post. Your work is lovely. I am a big fan of watercolours though I have never really mastered the medium myself.

Christy DeKoning said...

Anitra, thanks for stopping by today. I'm always happy to know my ideas are useful!


Stacy, it takes nothing but practice to achieve great results with watercolours! So glad you found my short post helpful today (sorry there were no WIP photos to share)

Kim said...

wowee Christy !!!
this is stunning...
what a beautiful surprise !!!
I've just shown Charlotte and she loves it...
how clever are you....*giant clappies*
and thank you...thank you ..thank you....
you have captured Charlie to a tee...
is the portrait for sale..
I would love to buy it :) :)
I'm going to post about it at my blog now...hehehe
Charlotte has been whinging to me lately about me not painting her portrait haha...
I think I've lost my job as her portrait artist lol...

Amy Lilley Designs said...

FABULOUS...looks just like her...sooooo thoughtful, AND, a beautiful subject in Charlotte along w/ the artistic freedom of your 'happy colors'....lovely, lovey gift!!!

I'll look forward to your contest in the Fall!!

Christy DeKoning said...

Kim you're so welcome, and I know what you mean - my oldest son has been bugging me for a portrait of him and his girlfriend, too lol.
This is just a small portrait (ACEO) but of course, it's yours!

Christy DeKoning said...

Thank you Amy - it's always great to read what you have to say. Charlotte is indeed a beautiful subject, and when I read Kim's blog this morning it was just the sort of "painting a day" inspiration that I needed.

Artbeat said...

Hi Christy

Thanks for your kind words during a difficult time for me. We seem to forget that other people all over the world lose loved ones all the time, but can console ourselves in the thought that they are no longer suffering and the prayers and kindness of people from all over the world certainly help to heal spirit and make life worth continuing.

I always love to read your posts and try your techniques, as a fine art specialist I must be honest the large brush scares me even though I know it is the correct brush to use.

I get so hung up on little details and yet when I see your work it certainly looks free and expressive. I need to spend more time trying.

I see Kim is thrilled with the painting and who would not be? The painting is stunning!!

I arrived safe in NZ but the cold weather knocked the stuffing out of me and I came down with a dose of flu shortly after arriving.

I am feeling a lot better now and can't wait to unpack my easel and oil paints.

My daughter is also an artist who has kept her talent hidden all her life and I am looking forward to working with her and publishing some of her paintings.

Keep up the great work, I am an ardent fan and love to try your techniques.

Christy DeKoning said...

Caroline,it's so good to hear from you and know you had a safe journey home.
I know the time ahead of you will be difficult and there isn't much anyone can do or say to make it better, but hopefully you will find peace in painting. It sounds like your daughter will be a wonderful source of inspiration and comfort!
Thank you for your lovely compliments on the portrait - it isn't always necessary to use a large brush, it's just a helpful exercise if you are trying to paint loosely and find you are having problems. If you have a brush that works for you then keep it up - your paintings are beautiful :-)

Charlotte said...

Hi Christy, thank you so much for the portrait! I absolutely love it and the colours are so pretty. It was such a nice suprise to wake up to this morning. Lots of love, Charlotte :D xoxoxoxo

Christy DeKoning said...

Hi Charlotte - you're very welcome! It was a fun exercise and I'm glad you enjoyed it :-)

RennyBA said...

I'm here from Kim - what a great portrait - you contribution is wonderful and of course she deserves it.

Btw: Since new here: Hello from Norway - have a great week :-)

Christy DeKoning said...

Hi Renny, thank you for dropping by. I remember visiting your blog a few months ago when you had a great post featuring photos of ladies at a cafe who were knitting very unique gloves. And you had just had a great dinner, also. I'm glad you commented because it reminded me to visit your blog again.


Amy Lilley Designs said...

Christy...what a heart warming exchange of comments on your blog...isn't this blogging @ it's best...I had not realized how quickly your Mom passed after her diagnosis...and how beautifully you touched 'Artbeat', when dealing w/ her heart goes out to you again...also, being so far away from Sydney...REALLY far away from home...I am just 3 hours from NY and there are days that are so hard to be here I just ache...lucky for us, we go in every few months...anywho, just wanted to share...I tell people all the time about the wonderful gals I have met from all over the world, cheering one another along w/ our art and in life....again, just love the painting of Kim's Charlotte...

blessings, blessings..