View Full Version : Background help or advice? NEWBIE!!

07-01-2001, 11:27 AM

10 X 16 watercolor on white WC paper

This is a painting of my father that I am working on and it was done from a photo (see below). I am stumped as to what to put in the background. It was taken in a garage. I just want something simple.. with texture? But am unsure what direction to go. Will a wash of color leak into the part that is already done? (I have no frisket). I am very unfamiliar with this medium and this is my first attempt at doing a person in it, so please overlook the obvious errrors and give me some ideas for a simple background to finish it. Thanks so much!


07-01-2001, 02:39 PM

Your rendering of your father is very well done.

Perhaps a dark (around your dad) to light (toward the edges) would work better.

One of my favorite watercolor artists is Mitchell Tolle. Look at some of his portraits (especially the one of Jimmy Carter and look at the ones in his book-"American Artist") on his site "mitchelltolle.com"

Hope this helps you and WELCOME to watercolor !


07-01-2001, 04:29 PM
I agree with Rosebud, Nora - you have done a great portrait! :clap:
I wish my first watercolour portrait turned out this well :)
Whatever background you choose, you should probably have a hit of a table or counter at the bottom to ensure you don't have a "floating torso" (unless that's the look you want!)
Be sure to post the finished product! :D And keep working in watercolour, you do it well. :)

07-02-2001, 06:16 AM
A great job with the portrait.
I agree with the comments. I feel a table top is necessary. This you could paint in first and then allow to dry completely.
If you then painted around the figure carefully with clear water so the background only is wetted.
Your paint can then be applied to the damp paper and will only spread in the wet areas. It will not go onto the dry paper so the portrait will not be affected. Using this wet into wet technique you will get soft faded edges. Also more than one colour could be used as they would blend nicely together.

07-02-2001, 10:16 AM
super portrait. I agree with Rod comments for background. What is your usual medium? Your painting says that you may be new to watercolor but not to painting!!

07-02-2001, 02:32 PM
Well, I tried a wash with green and blue. Then I tried to go impressionistic with blocks of darker green color, then I remembered to put the table in. Then I colored the table the same color as the background- wow the errors just kept happening! Not sure it is fixable anymore??? Comments here at home sounded like this: Why did you put all that green in there? The background ruined it, etc.

Do I go with a totally different table color as the green has faded into the background? Do I put other colors into the background? Do I leave it alone and call it a learning experience. I really thought I had gotten a good likeness, too!

Any help appreciated and thanks to everyone for their suggestions, I did try to follow them, I just failed. :eek:
Thanks, Nora

TO AMELIA: I am pretty new to painting but I have been drawing forever and started using pastels last year.


07-02-2001, 04:45 PM
I think this is easily fixable. Put some water on the background and soften the green blocks. Maybe first paint like you have background on scrap and try softening with water and experiment to see how much water and how much brushwork. Sometimes you need a stiffer brush to move the paint around. Try letting it sit for about 1/2 minute and then try to soften.

07-04-2001, 12:33 AM
Definitely fixable!
Ameliajordan's got the background covered for you. For the table, try going over it with a warmer tone - brownish or reddish, and it will not fade into the background so much. You've got a great edge to the table on the right side. :)
As Rod (and several others) have taught me, warmer colours come forward and cooler colours go back.

07-05-2001, 09:30 PM
I sure do like this picture of your Dad and I can feel for you about your troubles. Now if all else fails and you really hate the background why don't you think of cutting your dad out of the picture and making a paper collage out of some of his favourite things in the background. Perhaps his family, pets interest. ect. Just an idea to kick around.

07-05-2001, 10:54 PM
Hey DD,

He's great...you'll get the background


Keep at it and take up others' ideas, very fixable, it'll happen.......having a piece of paper beside you to try things out is indeed extremely helpful:D

lotsa luck.........Karen