View Full Version : Child's portrait

06-21-2001, 08:58 PM

This is a watercolor of a friends grandchild. Do I need more color in the face? The side of the face (shadow) bothers me a bit.

06-22-2001, 12:11 AM
I think that the hardest portraits to do are the ones where the light is coming from a flash mounted on the camera (not bounced). The colors get so washed out. I think this is what your sensing when you were asking about color. You might want to look at other photos and portraits for color ideas.

BLUES - Use a weak wash of blue in areas that receed around a corner. The more abrupt the angle away from the viewer the more blue that will be there. This is good to use at the sides of the face and will give the effect of thinning the sitter's face and giving the portrait a more 3-D effect. The brown that is at the sides of his face and under his chin is a bit to warm so it's not receeding enough yet. Do watch out with high stain blues though because while other colors will look lighter when they dry, some blues will dry darker.

Other than that, this is a terrific portrait - especially considering the lighting. Well, maybe one more thing. The hand confuses me a bit - compositionally better without it but if you keep it it's OK just render it a bit more so that it 'reads' more clearly.


06-22-2001, 06:24 AM
Lovely portrait, i just would agree with Tammy, the hand looks strange in that position,


06-22-2001, 07:47 AM
I agree about the hand - think I would remove it. This front flash view does make it hard to model the face. Maybe next portrait you could use a photo taken in natural light or with a bounce flash. Mean while, this is a super portrait - like you coloring and the way you captured his expression.

06-22-2001, 01:25 PM
When it comes to learning how to get color in you watercolor portraiture you need to really study the works of Steve Hanks. I have the book "Poised Between Heartbeats: The Art of Steve Hanks. It is a limitted edition book so time may be about up tp get it without going to collectors. It's steep, about $100, but worth it. Any of his pieces will teach you a great deal but I particularly recommend close study of a self portrait on page 15. This was a key painting to make me really start pushing colors and it was also a key piece that led me to drop to a three color palette.

Another good painting to study is one by Michael Deas. He does oils but in this painting he glazes in rich colors - I don't know the name of it and when I did an internet search on the artist trying to find it in print I could only pull up three of his paintings and none of them had the richness of this one. If anyone has info on where to get this print please post it.

Here is a detail of the Deas painting:


06-22-2001, 07:32 PM
Ditto on the hand !

Face is wonderful...nice round red cheeks: look pinchable !
Loose, but controlled.


06-23-2001, 12:02 AM
Nice loose style on a difficult subject.
Agree with the hand, looks awkward,

06-23-2001, 07:27 AM
hey there cutie;

nice portrait, and fine drawing of it. I do agree that the color and shadows are a bit weak... and the hand probably should be changed.

If you scrub out the long fingers, shorten them up and then put in a soft edged shadow from that hand onto the shirt the hand will stand out better. Part of the problem is the perspective of the hand makes you think it is up in the air but the crisp edged shadow tries to snap the hand tight to the shirt. (old pantyhose or nylons are great for scrubbing out, for that tip thank Bev)

I would put more shadows down his left since you have a shadow started on his left shoulder. Tone down the whites of his eyes a bit and tuck the corners of his mouth in with little shadows under the nodes. Keep the shadow on his left cheek on the warm side and stick a cool shadow, hint of blue on the skin under the lower lip. Darken the upper lip a touch and lighten the lower so it catches more light.

I took the liberty of messing around with your image and sent you a few suggestions.

But good solid work. Keep painting.

how's big G enjoying his summer?


06-24-2001, 12:39 PM
There is another wonderful book (aren't there always) written by Jan Kunz called Painting Watercolors that Glow.

It has a wonderful section on creating light source when there is a lack of light direction (as in this case with a flash).

Eyes are definitely the window of the soul.