Back to Sktchy, a Gouache Portrait

Portrait of Dennis J. from Sktchy, Gouache, 12x9 inches
Portrait of Dennis J. from Sktchy, Gouache, 12×9 inches

I’m returning to using Sktchy for my reference photos of people for portrait practice since there is such a wide range to choose from. I’m not abandoning my series of “people Facebook thinks I should know,” but those are less useful for portrait practice, which I’m wanting to do right now.

Can you tell those splotches on his face are light coming in from a window through maybe lace curtains? I can’t post the original Sktchy reference photo off that site, but you can see it by clicking or swiping on my Sktchy painting on Sktchy here if you’re interested.

One thing I love about gouache is that it limits me to working on a painting for only one or two sessions. Unlike oils that can go on being repainted forever, gouache fairly quickly says, “Sorry, no more paint, no more layers, you’re done.” It teaches me to get the drawing down, go for the values and then lay down brush strokes of color and let them be.

Cute Grandma and Baby: People Facebook Thinks I Should Know #5

Cute Grandma and Baby: People Facebook Says I Should Know #5.” Gouache, 6.5 x 6.5 inches
Cute Grandma and Baby: People Facebook Says I Should Know #5.” Gouache, 6.5 x 6.5 inches

Unlike with oil paints, there’s a point with gouache where it just gets nasty if you try to add one more layer or brush stroke. The positive side to that is that it encourages me to try to get the color and value right as quickly as possible; to put a stroke down and leave it, not thinking “close enough, I’ll fix it later” like I tend to do in oils (a lazy, bad habit).

On this painting I passed the point of no return on the woman’s face and have to admit I did a wee bit of softening/smudging in Procreate before I posted this to fix the lumps too many layers of paint made on her nose. Even so I didn’t do justice to how cute both she and the baby actually are in their photo.

Guy with Giant Chicken: People Facebook Thinks I Should Know #4

Guy with Giant Chicken: People Who Facebook Says I Should Know #4.” Gouache, 8x8 inches.
Guy with Giant Chicken: People Who Facebook Says I Should Know #4.” Gouache, 8×8 inches.

Another mystery photo! Is he an artist who builds giant chicken statues or perhaps a chicken rancher with his trademark chicken? 

I noticed that when I paint with gouache on cold press watercolor paper I end up with little white spots in dark areas so this time I tried a different gouache technique. I covered the whole sketch first with thin washes. It wasn’t that helpful. I learned that for that to work it’s necessary to get the values right in the underpainting, making darks really dark.

Below is the sketch and in progress photos.

Giant chicken guy sketch with first thinned gouache underpainting
Sketch with first thinned gouache underpainting
Giant chicken guy sketch with finished thinned gouache underpainting
Finished thinned gouache underpainting

Tattooed Guy on Painted Bull: People Facebook Thinks I Should Know #3

Facebook "People You May Know #3", gouache, 10x8 inches
Facebook “People You May Know #3”, gouache, 10×8 inches

When I posted this painting on Instagram I mentioned that I’d love to know the story behind this picture of a burly guy riding a painted bull in a parking lot in a desert somewhere who Facebook in its wisdom recommends I get to know.

Shortly afterwards someone I know recognized him and told me that this lovely gentleman was her former sergeant and that he is a much loved retired law enforcement officer. Below is my pencil sketch before I painted it.

Pencil sketch before painting with gouache
Pencil sketch before painting with gouache

Semi-Fail Flower Sketch

Stolen Vine, Gouache on watercolor paper, 11x8.5 inches
Stolen Vine, Gouache on watercolor paper, 11×8.5 inches

I painted this sketch from life in gouache from a piece of a vine I ripped off a neighbor’s fence (they’ve moved and the house is being sold so nobody cares). I started with the flowers, which was a good thing because they shriveled quickly.

I don’t know why I feel compelled to post things that weren’t successful but I guess I appreciate seeing other people’s fails, so why not. I was happy with my drawing but just couldn’t get the gouache to work the way I wanted and the pitcher got really muddy and icky colored. At least I got the drawing pretty close to reality. Below is a photo of the setup.

Photo of the setup

Cool Portrait in Gouache

Gouache sketch of "Ms. Red Rose" from Sktchy App
Gouache sketch from Sktchy photo of Ms. Red Rose, 10×8 inches

I had to make myself stop or I would have worked on this one forever because the colors and expression in the Sktchy photo were so fascinating (and challenging) and fun! I again tried to focus on painting the planes of the face using mostly cool colors with some warm colors to help create dimension. The lighting really helped show the underlying structure of her face.

Warm Portrait in Gouache

Sketch of Olivia A. from Sktchy in gouache in Strathmore Mixed Media Journal, 8.5” x 11” .
Olivia A. from Sktchy in gouache in Strathmore Mixed Media Journal, 8.5 x 11 inches

I was really happy with the way this gouache portrait of Olivia A. from her photo in the Sktchy app turned out. I focused on putting down patches or tiles of color, based on what I was seeing but also considering color temperature and facial landmarks. It also helped that for once did a good job on the drawing first.

Sometimes I study and study and have lots of book learning and every now and then, if I’m really lucky and persistent, it pours out of the end of my pencil or paint brush like magic and I actually meet your goals for a piece.

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