After placing the features accurately, I started putting in tone on the left side of the face first with a HB and then with an 8B pencil. I like to finish the eyes first before I do anything else:
I went over the previous layers with a blending stump and started to define the lips, nose and chin. The lips and eyes are narrower in a man`s face than in a woman`s face. I`ve also started to define the main locks of the hair here:
I went over the stronger shadows again on the face with an 8B. For the eyebrows, moustache and beard, I put in some tone first with a HB, then put in some short strokes with an 8B. Blended with the stump here and there and then more short strokes. Shadows on the hair leaving some highlights just where the locks curve so. Deeper shadows in between the locks. The hair is mostly negative drawing but you can lift out some +ve hairs with a pointed eraser. Blended the area where the hair meets the face to create a shadow there and also to soften the edges of the hair:
I just can`t get it out of my head about this picture that it feels a tad dry without the cool blue of water in the fountain. I didn`t put it in before because I thought that blue wouldn`t sit well with the predominantly warm colors in the rest of the painting, but now seen again from a fresh perspective, I feel it will work. So, I`ve put on a layer with Faber Castell watercolor pencils, of helio turqoise (which is a green blue) first, and on top of that, a layer of light phthalo blue. Watercolor pencils are transparent when wet, but opaque when worked-on dry, so it has pretty much covered the grey tones in the underlayer. So….here it is.. ta da……..! ha…ha..! Do you like it better this way?
The blending stumps that you can see in the photo are rolled up pieces of acid-free paper. They are very useful for evening out tone in small areas like on the eye and lip region. For larger areas, a tissue paper wrapped around the forefinger works well.
I did this one to use as for an introduction slide in the videos. I had been wanting to do this type of illustration work from some time. The kind reminiscent of the greeting cards of yesteryears and which were usually associated with watercolors. These kind of paintings, are called high-key paintings, and they are done completely in low or mid values with no dark tones at all. They bring back some sweet memories for me, they are so charming, with pale colors and wishy washy effects which leave much room for the imagination to soar. Though in this painting of mine, I couldn`t help the brighter colors creeping in unawares. Well, maybe for some other projects in the future. Low-key paintings are built completely from high and mid values. So, high-key is low values and low-key is high values. Don`t ask me why they are named in the reverse way! I usually use the full spectrum of values in my paintings.
I had shot these snapdragons growing on the wayside and in our balcony in the summer. They look so interesting because of their bright colors and also because of the way they are arranged on the spike, with fully opened and partially opened ones at the bottom and buds at the top. To use as a reference for the girl, I got my son to take my snap in a sundress. I wet the flower area and marked the outlines of some of the violet flowers in watercolor pencils Faber Castell magenta, pink madder lake, middle purple pink. The colors will flare and merge a bit with the water on the paper. You can nudge the colors a bit more with a damp brush and add light violet for the inner petal areas and buds. Add the leaves in the same way with light green, emarald green, helio turqouise. Permanent green olive is actually a perfect not-too-bright-and-artificial-looking green but I donot have this color in watercolor pencils, have it only in colored pencils, so I put down some hard marks with it. Also put some green in the buds. The yellow snapdragons have dark cadmium yellow, pink madder lake and magenta. The dress is in DS hansa yellow medium. Add some folds with dark cadmium yellow and shadows under the folds with green on the grass.
I added some skin tones, hair, crinkles on the dress with mixes from my previous painting. Put in a green-gray wash behind the foliage and for the grass.The watering can has cool grey 4. Finished with some butterflies and bird.
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Here, I`ve put in the first layers for the rest of the leaves and stems. Add some red or violet into the green of the stems in a wet in wet wash:
Here are the second layers for the same leaves and stems. Drybrush the stems after the wash has completely dried.
There are two yellow green small leaves to the left of and below the main flower. The yellow green of the leaf below these two leaves is subdued because it is in shadow. The bird is sitting on a green wire which I`ve made into a rusty wire so as to add colour and interest. Perpendicular to this, to the right, is another rusty wire. Wash in a mix of orange brown made from ruby red, cobalt blue tone, cerulean blue tone and hansa yellow medium.
Don`t look at painting the background as something to be dreaded and to be got over as quickly as possible before moving on to another project. Instead, think of it as something exciting and challenging, where you get to be creative in order to create the scene you want. The elements in the foreground, that you either highlight or push back, the new elements that you introduce in the mid and background all play a role in evoking a particular mood. Think about how color and value changes move the viewer`s eye in the painting.
I`ve chosen to add berries and a passion fruit to bring the orange down and into the rest of the picture and also so that it looks like the bird has had something to eat! The berries have been painted in on a wet in wet wash. Keep the reds subdued by adding cobalt blue tone so that they donot attract more attention than the bird. For the passionfruit also, the orange has been subdued by adding blue and the edges have been softened with a damp brush to push it into the midground.
For the rusty wires, add another layer of orange brown and float in translucent orange here and there. Drop in a darker brown or red brown on the shadow sides. Drop the colors so that an indented pattern is formed rather than making it a smooth wash. Add a few squiggly lines with a darker value when the wash is damp and also again when it has dried completely.
A very happy new year to you, my dear readers. May you find fresh wells of inspiration in your hearts and souls this year.
Here`s my finished painting that I have named “Inner Sanctuary”. When I looked at it after putting in the background berries, I knew immediately that, that is what it is.
I will continue with the demo in my next posts.