View Full Version : My second watercolour - WIP

Nancy Anthony
04-18-2003, 09:34 PM
Ok I must be crazy...but with only 1 watercolour under my belt you guys have convinced me to try my hand at a portrait. :rolleyes:

This is my son, many years ago, after his bath.

Remember I work in charcoal so the whole colour thing is new to me, but I want to learn so comments are definately welcome!

Sorry about the quality of the photo but I'm having a hard time getting the images to meet the forum requirements and still show enough detail for you to see (any suggestions in this area are also greatly appreciated).

Ok here it is so far (after about 1 hour of sketching and painting)

04-18-2003, 09:43 PM
is this closer to your pic?

Nancy Anthony
04-18-2003, 09:55 PM
Sorta but since I had already darkened it in the image I uploaded (so you could actually see the colour) I think the shadows came out a bit harsher then they really are (especially on the arm). They say images should be less than 100k, but this (mine) was showing it to be larger than that..that's why I kept reducing it and losing clarity (maybe I should change my camera settings?)

Thank you for the help...at least your image isn't so dark. I appreciate that!

Mary Smith
04-18-2003, 10:42 PM
I like it so far, cannot offer advice as I have never attempted a portrait. This reminds me I have a great photo of my soon to be 20 year old naked on a couch when he was oh about 12 weeks.
He-he-he- gotta find that photo.

Nancy Anthony
04-19-2003, 01:46 AM
ok - I know I'm not that quick but here's what I did with 20 more minutes.

Don't worry about the bottom lip, it won't be so bowed when I'm thru.

This one includes the reference photo next to the portrait on my drawing board.

Ok here it is:

Nancy Anthony
04-19-2003, 01:47 AM
I know I'm posting these back to back, but that's because I just uploaded them to my computer.

I have to admit that even though laying colour to paper is terrifying for me (wouldn't know what to do if it was dramatically wrong!), I have to admit that this is fun!

04-19-2003, 01:48 AM
Wonderful likeness.... I love his big brown eyes!

04-19-2003, 03:18 AM
Nancy, He's a cutie. Good for you to try a portrait in watercolors. You are off to a good start. Will be watching and rooting you on.


04-19-2003, 08:39 AM
All I can say is that you are doing a great job of laying in the colour!!!!

Little Old Lady
04-19-2003, 08:49 AM
Looks good to me! It is only paper.

Bubba's Mama
04-19-2003, 11:03 AM
Nancy - he is such a cutie! I am amazed at the evocativeness (is that even a word???:confused: ) you manage to convey with only a few strokes. Terriffic!

04-19-2003, 12:32 PM
Nancy... Handsome little dude... You've captured his wide-eyed expression very well! Waiting and watching...

Nancy Anthony
04-19-2003, 08:27 PM
Thank you all for your encouragement....:D

I was so worried about being able to capture not only the likeness, but the emotion of the piece (which is usually so prevelant in my Charcoal works)....not to mention that I still have absolutely no clue how these watercolours work! Remember this is only my second one.

Well I'll be going out in a few minutes so there won't be any more updates tonight...please give me all of the advice that you can!!!

Here it is:

Alan Cross
04-19-2003, 09:26 PM
Well for your second watercolor you picked a tough one....good luck and welcome to the watercolor forum.
Alan :)

04-20-2003, 04:56 AM
I think it's coming along very nicely--------------Alan

04-20-2003, 07:44 PM
wow... that is a very cool work!! I don't know how you picked up watercolors so quickly... but you clearly grasp the use of the white of the paper and toning with washes. I've worked with wc for awhile and still haven't gotten that talented at it... that is very annoying!!! Just kidding!! It's great!

I love the eyes... wonderful color... very "eye-like" which is difficult to achieve.

I think this is awesome and hope to be ale to do the same type of work someday!!


:clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:

04-20-2003, 08:19 PM
Hi Nancy: I think that for someone who has not used watercolour very long, this is going very well.
Ok. I know watercolour is very intimidating as it seems that is will not allow errors. Well, it depends how soon you discover the errors. You definitely need a good drawing to start, no fixing the drawing with painting is wanted. Don't be afraid to allow the watercolour pigmnet to somewhat flow where it wants, as long as your brush can control where it will dry, somewhat. I find that my expensive sable hair brush I have had 20+ yrs does this the best. It can retain alot of water and let out only what you want, plus absorb back pigment as it dries. This is an extra thing with watercolour. You can also create shape and fix things by taking away from what you layed down at the moment or even a few moments back. You can even dampen and lift colour almost back to the paper if you want to lighten or create highlights.
For instance: If a cheek colour or shadow is too large too prominent or in part of an area where it should nto be, I dampen my cleanish brush and run that over, taking back the pigment to the level I want it at. I dab the brush on a paer towel and keep removing if need be.
Watercolour you need to watch the shapes your drying lay down pigment is making. Catching things early while building up thin layers is the most easiest way to know that you will not have an overworked or error ridden portrait. Lay colour over colour as opposed to mixing colours than laying them on opaquely. For instance, if you are doing dark hair, start with a red brown. Then start laying in darker and darker and get into the contrasting colours, like dark purple and dark green, to create your very deep dark areas. This will keep watercolour more pure, less flat, more 3 dimensional. Starting with the darkest colour tends to create flatness. Although, I do use the scrubbing back of pigment technique for medium highlights in alot of things, like hair.
You seem to be doing fine so far!

Nancy Anthony
04-20-2003, 08:45 PM
It wasn't my idea (doing a portrait so soon), but after I posted my first watercolour here (I usually work in Charcoal), a lot of people asked me to dive right in and try it...so here I am! Never would have had the courage if it weren't for the great folk at WC!

Thank you...helps ease my anxiety!

Thanx - so kind as always! Like I said I really have no clue what I'm doing (glad you don't think it shows-yet), just what I've read here and in Artist Magazine. Still afraid I'll be too heavy handed w/the colour or that I'll totally mess up when it's time to add the eyelashes and the bit of hair on top of his head!
Especially, as you know, eyes are my thing ;)

Thank you for all of the great info! I checked out your website and your portraits are amazing! It's my goal to one day be able to do commission wc portraits - not just the charcoals that I do now.

Well here's the latest update (please forgive the photography). I added some pink tones in the face, a little blue/green in the shadows and some grey shading the bath towel.

Nancy Anthony
05-02-2003, 11:55 PM
Hello Everyone!

Got busy and couldn't do much there for awhile. I didn't like the original composition (I thought it was too distracting), and I wanted more of a "safely cocooned" nighttime feel to it so I cropped it. Don't let the border full you - I know it's far from finished (I have more building to do in the face and towel wrap and of course the eyelashes!)- just wanted to see how it'd look with a black mat.

I can't seem to get a deep black in the background. Will I have to go multi-media on this and add some colored pencil or pastel to build that up?

05-03-2003, 12:35 AM
Nancy, beautiful work so far! Please, don't make it a mixed-media, you can get a really dark background w/watercolors.

I've never done a portrait, so I can't comment on the baby, other than to say beautiful baby!

Different people use different ways to get black or really dark. Do a search in Watercolor for black background--that might help. There are many color recipes as there are artists!

I have used Winsor Violet, French Ultramarine Blue, and a green tossed in to make a really dark background. I like to lay them as washes, but some folk do them wet in wet or pre-mix the color.

Good luck!

lyn lynch
05-03-2003, 12:48 AM
pixel image for uploader is 500 wide x 600 high; I generally set mine at 450 wide by 550 high and have no problem. If you want to show a detail area, such as the eyes, copy your original image and crop it to the eyes, save, again at maximum pixels 500 wide x 600 high. Upload both images and copy into your post.

No, you do not have to make a mixed media to get a nice black, just use two compliments; I use both cool colors, i.e., W&N Crimson and W&N Thalo green. When I want a deep black I mix them together on the palette. If you are covering a large area, may want to be sure you mix enough before starting so you maintain the consistency.

This beautiful portrait and beautiful work. You see if you have the drawing and tonal skills in a medium it can be transferred to another medium. Watercolor is unlike any other that I have tried. I have drawerfuls of 'practice' work, but occassionally I get a good one. You are eons ahead of me already.

I like to suggest that rather than painting in the lips you paint in the muscle structure around the lips. Then, just drop in some light colors to form flesh on lips so baby is not wearing lipstick. This lovely, good furrowed brown, especially; very baby look.

05-03-2003, 01:00 AM
Nancy this is just beautiful,you have really achieved an amazing result,especially as it is in portraiture and watercolour...way to go.I like the crop that you did as the only thing that i felt about the piece before was the bubs hand was to big and distracted from his beautiful face.Excellent work.
Moo:clap: :clap: :clap:

05-03-2003, 04:19 AM
This is looking beautiful. You must be joshin', this being your second w/c!


05-03-2003, 05:43 AM

05-03-2003, 06:06 AM
Excelent. I wish some of my first where as good as this.

Well done.

05-03-2003, 09:00 AM
Nancy... this is coming along so beautifully... And your first portrait to boot!!! I've been following along and reading all the advice... Way to go, girl!!!

Nancy Anthony
05-26-2003, 09:04 PM
I've been pretty busy and haven't been back to this for awhile...until this afternoon.

Still hopping all over the place I deepened the background, further built shape on the right side of the face and the left side of the skull (as you view it) and built up the midtones and shadows in blanket/towel. It looks really out of balance at this point (especially since the right eye is more defined then the left one), but I'm going to let things dry for now. Trying to learn how to be patient with this medium:D

05-26-2003, 10:02 PM
it is a sweet and loveing portrait!

and you are MEGA brave for posting a WIP!!!!

I think you could explore value variation in this if you wish.....maybe look at it in grayscale and add some darks



05-27-2003, 03:51 AM
This is a very very good portrait, baby's I find are VERY hard to do, you have done it beautifully..........;)

Nancy Anthony
06-02-2003, 10:01 PM
Ok - I made a big mistake here - no a HUGE mistake and now my baby has taken on a rather comical look to him. Sorta like a cross between the gerber baby and the one featured in those ads for thermometers - you remember the frightened "You wanna stick that where?" baby of the early 90's?

It all happened when I went to apply the eyelashes and failed to switch to the really thin brush. My son did have extremely thick, dark lashes but I'm sure they weren't this thick or dark. The odd thing is that is still looks just like how everyone remembers him. I guess we tend to overexaggerate certain characteristics in our minds memory.

Oh well...this isn't what I was going for, but what the heck - it is only my second watercolor...a learning experience. Plus I kinda like the feeling of this one so I think I'm going to finish it anyway!

06-02-2003, 11:09 PM
Now, now... I don't think it was that big a mistake.. in fact, it sounds like it wasn't a bad thing at all... if he had the lashes... and you have drawn the lashes ?? I think the work is wonderful... I love the questioning, but open look on his face... ready to receive from the world... I bet your son is very smart! I have a fear of using black in watercolors because once applied it is difficult to work with (stains... hard to lift... muddies other colors)... so, I think you did the right thing by leaving it as is... without trying to remove some of the color...

Any thoughts from the watercolor masters out there??

J :clap: :clap: :clap: