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Art Art theory Faces Gouache People Portrait Sktchy

Complimentary: All the Colors in Just Two

América GS from Sktchy in just two colors, 10x8 inches on watercolor paper
América GS from Sktchy in just two colors, 10×8 inches on watercolor paper

In the past when I experimented with limited palettes and color schemes I missed the point. I thought the idea was to compose with just the chosen colors, rather than to discover how many different colors could be made by mixing them together. I hadn’t yet discovered the beauty of neutrals made by mixing two very different colors together. For this portrait, the challenge was to use complimentary colors (colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel).

I chose just two pigments: Winsor Newton Cobalt Turquoise Light and M. Graham Cadmium Red Light; basically a blue-green and a red-orange. I focused on making the lights cool and the shadows warm and was thrilled to discover the wonderful range of colors and neutrals I could make with just these two pigments and white.

First pass with color

Of course the colors are nothing like the actual colors in the reference photo (below), another photo I wouldn’t have chosen to paint myself, which removed the investment to capture it perfectly.

Reference photo of America S from Sktchy
Categories
Art Art theory Drawing Gouache Painting People Portrait Sktchy Sktchy

Alexander’s Analogous Bathroom Selfie in Lavender

Alexander H from his bathroom selfie on Sktchy, 8x8" on watercolor paper
Alexander H from his bathroom selfie on Sktchy, 9×8″ on watercolor paper

Analogous colors sit beside each other on the color wheel. For this gouache experiment with analogous colors, I chose Dioxazine Purple, Quinacridone Magenta, and Pyrole Red; basically a violet, a red-violet and a red. Plus white of course. My favorite gouache paints are M. Graham, especially their white, which is so wonderfully creamy.

Normally when I paint I try to match the colors I see, so painting with arbitrary colors is a very different approach for me, one that requires focusing more on value and warm/cool relationships. There was no way I’d get “normal” skin colors with this combo of colors. Below is my original sketch on Xerox paper which I then transferred to watercolor paper.

Initial sketch
Initial sketch

One funny thing about this Sktchy gouache class is that the teacher seems to pick reference photos of people I never would have chosen. The photo reference for this lesson: a guy seemingly looking in his bathroom mirror when he woke up in the morning. It didn’t inspire me, but maybe the combination of a non-interesting photo and the experiment with color took the pressure off so I could just play. I had so much fun with this one!

Photo reference from Sktchy
Photo reference from Sktchy
Categories
Art Gouache Portrait

A Beauty and a Gloomy Gouache

Olivia McRae in gouache, 10×8 inches

I had so much fun with the painting above and was really happy how it turned out. I’m (slowly) working my way through the Sktchy “30 Faces in 30 Days” gouache and watercolor class, though at the rate I’m going it’s probably going to take me 300 days, not 30 to finish it.

For the painting above, I followed along with Cecile Yadro’s demo. Her style felt very congruent to the way I like to work. You can see the reference photo for this painting on Sktchy here and download Cecile’s free gouache ebook here.

Although it wasn’t mentioned in her lesson, I was especially happy about how I was able to maintain the (high key) value structure while varying the colors and color temperatures within her face, something that clicked for me for the first time.

On the other hand, the next lesson was by Russian artist Nicolai Gánichev and his approach, techniques and final painting didn’t appeal to me at all (see his painting below).

Painting by Nicolai Gánichev 
Photo Reference from lesson

There seems to be a trend in contemporary art of destructing portraits, smearing paint across the subjects face or wiping off their eyes or mouth. Are the artists just bored with their facility in making portraits and have to show their contempt for skill or for the subject? I don’t get it. Also, the reference photo seemed dark and gloomy to me. I tried it anyway.

My sketch
First painting attempt, ugly and gloomy

I sketched her on Xerox paper and then transferred the drawing to watercolor paper. I tried following along with Nicolai but disliked his process so went off on my own. I ended up hating my first painting (above) so I transferred the drawing again, lightened the photo and discovered she actually might have red hair. I wasn’t having fun so I gave up after the second attempt below and moved on.

My final, still unpleasant, attempt at painting her

Categories
Art Gouache Portrait Sktchy Sktchy

Trying Gouache Again

Gouache portrait, 10×8 inches on Arches CP Watercolor paper

I’ve studied gouache before as in this post with color charts and several other times over the years. This month I’ve been participating in the “Sktchy 30 Faces in 30 Days – Gouache and Watercolor” challenge with a different artist demonstrating their way of painting a portrait in either watercolor or gouache each day.

The first gouache demo was presented by Jordan M. Rhodes (@jmr_art on Instagram) who I’ve been following on IG for a long time. I tried to paint along with him but kept on struggling. I ended up taking much longer, painting multiple layers until I was able complete it with some degree of satisfaction. And of course it took me several hours just to get the drawing right-ish first.

My preliminary drawing
Reference photo

I had hoped that doing this 30 day challenge would force me to work faster, but nope. It wasn’t until I got to the next gouache class that I picked up the insights that have given me much more confidence and better skills, which I’ll write about when I share the next portrait.

Categories
Drawing Faces People Portrait Sktchy Sktchy

Rainbow Hair and a Pretty Pointy Profile Pic

Ioana F from Sktchy, pencil and colored pencil, 10x8 inches
Ioana F from Sktchy, pencil and colored pencil, 10×8 inches

I was inspired to sketch Ioana because of her brilliant hair color (see her photo on Sktchy here) and because a dear friend had to shave her head while undergoing chemo and I was looking for photos of beautiful bald women to share with her. (Ioana also posted photos of herself with a shaved head on Sktchy.) Maybe when my friend finishes her treatment and her hair grows back she’ll dye it shades of pink and orange to celebrate.

Profile sketch from internet photo, pencil, 10x8 inches
Profile sketch from internet photo, pencil, 10×8 inches

This sketch was done to practice profile drawing which I find difficult. She has such an unusual facial structure as you can see in the photo below, but somehow looks beautiful despite the pointy chin and long nose and big ears. She looks nervous about it all in my sketch.

Reference photo from somewhere on the internet