Sunday, January 25, 2009

New watercolor portrait demonstration

Some of you might recall that November was busy for me - I had more portrait commissions last November than I've ever had in one month...

Forty (40) !

Looking back, I think I was a little crazy to keep up such a pace, but the material I got to work with was fantastic!

It wasn't too often that I paused to take photos while I worked, but here I will show you some of the steps involved in at least one of those portraits.

I don't always follow the same formula - a lot of it depends on my mood, and where I feel like starting. In this case, I started on the eyes and then laid in a suggestion of hair color. I used a light wash of Goethite (Daniel Smith's Brown Ochre) here because I like the subtlety of it - no bright yellow to have to contend with later on. The inky lashes are a mixture of the blue eye color and a bit of burnt sienna - that way if I hit them with water later on, they won't bleed "grey", but will give off neutral colors.

Next I blocked in some chunks of hair color. Permanent Alizarin Crimson, Cerulean Blue, Burnt Sienna and probably some burnt umber by the looks of it. I can't remember, so I'm going by how it looks to me now.

At this point I went back to the face and eyes, with light rose washes. Looks like Permanent Rose (I tend to go back and forth with PR and Quinacridone Rose) - mixed with a little Yellow Ochre or Gamboge most likely.

You can see that I deepened the warm shadows under her bangs here. A warmer mixture of the same skin tone does the trick (add a little more ochre to the mix - if it is too warm, cool it down a bit with Perylene Green) You don't want the forehead too cool - if in doubt, remember the "color band" basics of the Masters: Yellow (forehead), Red (face), Blue (neck). I won't go into color banding here because you can easily Google it.

And really, if you're the one holding the brush, you can paint with whatever colors you want to!

I would have kept adding layers of transparent color to the face here, defining the features and warming the right side of the face (the side closest to the viewer)

You can see that I "lifted out" a few light colored strands of hair here and there. This was done with a flat brush dipped in clean water then dabbed on a paper towel to remove most of the water. Then I just pulled the brush along the hair, lifting out streaks of color.

The details on the eyes and lips were the final touches, and a light wet-in-wet wash of Cerulean Blue and some kind of yellow for the background. I probably used Aureolin, or possibly Quinacridone Gold.


Deb DiSalvo said...

Wow- beautiful! You are so talented! I just saw your other Twilight paintings in your shop. I just started Breaking Dawn yesterday - I can't believe how addicting these books are. It actually took me a bit longer to get through Eclipse, but now I'm on a roll again!!!

Christy DeKoning said...

Hey Deb - you've surfaced lol!!!

Thank you for the lovely comments - I'm actually trying to fit a few more Twilight portraits in between commissions right now - I have to admit that I love painting Kristen Stewart - she's got the most amazing lips!

I don't even remember half of Eclipse, I read it so quickly - I was eager to start Breaking Dawn at the time so I kind of sleepwalked through it.

High On Craft said...

Oh wow, this is awesome! Like watching a master at work. :D I never tire of looking at your work Christy.

Kim said...

love the colouring in her skin Christy and that portrait of your son is really stunning!!!
40 paintings ...WOWEE!!!
Charlotte's going ape admiring your twilight WCs :))

Noora said...

Hi! You have really wonderfull paintings and sketches here, would you mind if i add your blog to my sketchblog (

lin said...