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Art Drawing Faces Gouache Painting People Portrait Sktchy Sktchy

Nate W. in Grey Hoodie

Nate Washington in a grey hoodie, painted in gouache.
Nate Washington in gouache on paper, 10 x 7.5”

Nate Washington (IG link) is a comedian and podcaster who shared his reference photo for this portrait on Sktchy, here. (Except Sktchy app is now called “Museum”)

Karl Staub (IG link), the teacher who used Nate’s photo for his demo did a very graphic, poster-like rendering (see below). I was tempted to do that too, but decided to just continue with my own style instead.

Nate Washington in a grey hoodie, sketched in pencil.
Nate W. in pencil, 10×7.5

Above is my original sketch for the portrait. I had fun finding the planes on his face and clothes. Below is a screenshot for the 30 Faces/30 Days – Watercolor & Gouache class on Sktchy displaying the teacher’s work.

This was supposed to be a 30 portraits in 30 days class, but I think I’m now on month three instead. That’s because since last December I started working out every morning, doing indoor cycling, rowing and running classes plus daily core classes and alternating days of weights, yoga, Pilates, and Barre and two hikes a week with friends. I paint in the afternoon.

I’m getting stronger and fitter and having fun. But it’s always a challenge to find balance between all the things that make up a good life. I’m very fortunate and grateful for the luxury of the choices I get to make.

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Art Drawing Faces Gouache Painting People Portrait Sktchy Sktchy

Forest Bather in Gouache

Bennett P from Sktchy in Gouache, 10×7 inches

I really enjoyed painting this calm, pleasant young man amidst the trees, seemingly bathing in the cool forest light. You can see his original photo reference on Sktchy here.

I started with a pencil sketch on copy paper. Then to check my drawing, I compared my sketch to the photo by scanning my sketch into Procreate with the original photo. On a new layer I traced the photo with a red line and layered that over the sketch (see below). Using the red lines as a reference, I corrected my original sketch on paper, transferred the sketch to watercolor paper and then painted.

Bennett’s reference photo was part of the Sktchy “30 days in Watercolor and Gouache” class taught by Mike Creighton, one of my favorite Sktchy teachers. I thought it would be interesting to share his painting; such a different feel from mine!

Mike Creighton’s gouache painting

He used a limited palette and did a lot of mark making with his brush. I know the idea of the Sktchy classes is to try to mimic the teachers in order to learn a variety of different approaches and techniques, but I almost always end up taking what I like and then going my own way.

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Art Drawing Faces Gouache Painting Portrait Sktchy Sktchy

Librarian (?) in Gouache with Zorn Palette

Stacy D from Sktchy in Gouache using Zorn Palette, 10x7 inches
Stacy D from Sktchy in Gouache using Zorn Palette, 10×7 inches

I dramatically changed the setting of this portrait from a graffiti-covered wall (photo at bottom) to a library. There was something about her expression and clothing that made me think judgmental librarian, not the hip artist she appears to be in her photo feed on Sktchy. (Not that librarians can’t be hip artists! I was thinking of the mean school librarian who was always shushing us and glaring if we giggled.)

This was the last lesson in Mike Creighton’s Sktchy class on gouache portrait painting and color mixing. This lesson was about the Zorn palette: white, yellow ochre, cadmium red light and black. I’m really enjoying playing with limited palettes and discovering all the varieties of color possible with them.

In my initial sketch below, I hadn’t decided on the background yet.

Stacy D. from Sktchy, initial sketch on Xerox paper
Stacy D. from Sktchy, initial sketch on Xerox paper

When I decided to change the background from the wall in the reference photo below, to a library I did a quick internet search and found the photo below, right, which I used as inspiration.

Reference photo of Stacy D from Sktchy
Reference photo of Stacy D from Sktchy
Internet photo for library photo reference
Internet photo for library photo reference
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Art Drawing Gouache People Portrait Sktchy Sktchy

Triadic Color Scheme in Gouache

Jennifer L. from Sktchy, weird 3-color gouache triadic color scheme, 10x8 inches
Jennifer L. from Sktchy, weird 3-color gouache triadic color scheme, 10×8 inches

A triadic color scheme is one in which three colors are chosen for the palette that are equal distance apart on the color wheel. For example, either the three primaries (red, yellow, blue) or three secondaries (orange, purple, green) or tertiaries like red-orange, blue-green, etc. The colors I chose were a little weird: Linden Green, a greenish yellow because I wanted to capture the brilliant greens in the garden, plus Ultramarine Blue and Cadmium Red Light.

I thought the Linden Green and Cad Red Light made some interesting skin tones.

Mixing experiments with triad of Linden Green, Cad Red Light and Ultramarine Blue

Like all of the reference photos that Mike Creighton chose for his Sktchy gouache and color class, I wasn’t particularly attracted to paint this reference photo (at bottom of post). So I tried to think of it not as a portrait but a puzzle to play with color mixing plus a chance to practice my drawing.

In my initial sketch below, her hand and fingers were the most fun and most challenging.

Initial Sketch on Xerox paper
Reference photo

Overall I’m not thrilled with this one. I don’t really like looking at it. But the puzzle process and mixing experiment was really fun.

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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