View Full Version : "Starry Eyes" (A Portrait Attempt) - W.I.P.

Devoted 2Art
04-20-2013, 01:13 AM
Real busy day & only a couple hours to devote to my new project. I would like to learn to be more consistent with portraits so I need to practice. So far I've used very light washes of watercolor mixed with a touch of gouache. I used a drafting pencil & Col-erase pencils for the sketch. The pencils bleed a bit when wet & I find it makes for an interesting effect.

"Starry Eyes" (WIP) / 9 " x 13" / Watercolor + Gouache / Stonehenge Paper

The arm furthest away looks really odd right now. I should be able to correct it.

C & C welcome - Thanks for looking.

04-20-2013, 03:50 AM
Another great start John.


04-20-2013, 04:58 AM
Excellent start - Am looking forward to see the progress. Great hair!

Devoted 2Art
04-21-2013, 01:44 AM
Thank you very much Doug and Jan:). I appreciate your comments... BTW - this has got to be the most difficult hair I've ever attempted. Next time - I'm not going to detail the hair in pencil first. I'm having a difficult time softening it. I can't seem to be able to get a decent photo tonight.
Here's today's update... Lots of glazes all over especially the hair. I am now working with about 75% gouache to 25% watercolor.


The background (upper) is a grey-violet light wash over Stonehenge Fawn paper. It tinted it a very light cool grey. It looks close on my monitor.

Thanks for looking - All C & C welcome.

04-21-2013, 02:43 AM
Wonderful hair John, great colours in it - (you don't need to do the pencil detail first when you can do this great stuff with the paint!)

04-21-2013, 12:59 PM

The hair is gorgeous. Well done.


04-21-2013, 01:44 PM
Beautiful portrait John you have a great progress

There are two things however you might want to look in to
The elbow at the backarm seems a strangly formed
When I look at the nose it seems like I am slightly looking from down under, but her face gives another impression.
Perhaps if you bring the upperside of the nostrils a litlle down it will look different

Devoted 2Art
04-21-2013, 03:49 PM
Thank you Suzanne, Tom & Margareth very much for the comments and suggestions - I appreciate them a lot:). Busy morning - cleaned the yard, did laundry & even got another 90 minutes painting in.

Margareth - Thank you for the suggestions. Unfortunately I did not see them until after I worked a bit more & changed direction a bit. I'll check again before I start painting tonight.

For the update - I changed the background again using a very thin wash of Rowney Powder Blue gouache... the I sprinkled some salt on it trying to get a starry effect. Not a good choice! The blue works nice but the salt created a buckle in the paper that won't flatten out. I've also decided this painting works better cropped. I took the photo under natural light & it seems a bit more accurate that the previous ones.

Here's step # 03
"Starry Eyes" Step # 3- W.I.P. / 6" x 9"

Be back tonight with the final I hope. I need food & a nice nap:D.

All C & C welcome - Thank you for looking.

Deborah Secor
04-21-2013, 06:12 PM
John, I think the hair and eyes on this young lady are stunning.

Her nose bothers me--she seems like she's snorting or flaring her nostrils. There's no accounting for nature, so perhaps her nose is shaped accurately, but in a purely esthetic sense I find the nostrils odd looking.

The two hard lines outboard of the bridge of her nose near her eyes age her face making her look suspicious, and a little hard-eyed. The blue eyes are just lovely, and the blue in her hair and swimsuit marry the colors together beautifully.

Sorry, but her neck looks too thick, too.

There's so much I like about the overall coloration, her stance and that beautiful mane of hair! Keep going... I'll be interested to see the end result.

Devoted 2Art
04-21-2013, 09:09 PM

Thank you so much Margareth & Deborah - I followed your advice & did some work this afternoon....
Added some hair & shadow to the rear arm.
Tried to fix the nose a bit though she is flaring her nostrils in the photo.
I did try to soften the hard lines using some Holbein Brilliant Pink gouache in the areas suggested.
I did make the neck a bit thinner by subduing the highlight and adding darker hair behind the back of the neck.
I also added some patches of Maimeri gouache Solferino Lake to some of the hair and skin shadows.

I have learned not to make my lines so pronounced in the future.
Thank you both again for your help and encouragement! I am very appreciative!


04-22-2013, 04:18 AM
Hi John - an excellent job with the painting. I do, however, have a problem with the figure. Her body does not go with her face. You seem to have adult or teenage face attached to a child's body - in size and features. I would crop the body above the bathing suit top, leaving your wonderfully painted portrait.

Devoted 2Art
04-23-2013, 12:29 AM
Hi Jan! Thank you so much for your comments and feedback. They are both very appreciated. Since I've traced this from the original photo (as I do with all work that requires precision) - I'm sad to say all the deformities in this painting are my own creation (or perhaps inexperience). I understand your observations and I do agree with them. I also think I know what mistakes I have made that I have really learned from.

When working with such a delicate subject - I will make my sketch very light. The hard lines the Copic .01 pen left required heavier paint which left her features much too prominent. The same with the hair - In the photo - it looks like a frizzed mess of off white angel hair but my sketch was way too dark so I had to make the hair darker than I should have.

Also because I had to make the hair so dark, I lost the roundness of her face which would have reflected more youth.

I am grateful you've offered the critique you have - It caused me to look closer at the painting and why it didn't quite work as planned.

Thank you again!