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Art Drawing Faces Gouache Painting People Portrait

Big Forehead Guy and Erupting Volcanoes

Big Forehead Guy #2, Gouache, 10×7.5”

I used a limited palette to paint this guy twice. I based the one above on the colors I’d seen in a run around erupting volcanoes on Zwift. I also painted him using the original blue colors of the reference photo below.

Zwift is a virtual world/video game that you move through based on your speed and effort on a spinning bike or treadmill (see screenshot below). My limited palette was Indigo, Napthol Red and Cadmium Yellow Pale.

A scene from my run in Zwift’s Whole Lotta Lava route

I thought he’d be fun to draw, with that prominent forehead and strong jawline and he was. I also painted him using a limited primary palette of yellow, red and blue, trying to get colors close to the reference photo (below).

Big Forehead Guy, #1, Gouache, 10×7.5”

About volcanoes…when I was a kid I had a reoccurring nightmare about being on an erupting volcano with Little Lulu and Tubby, characters from my favorite childhood comic books.

Below is the photo reference, my sketches, correction checks (photo tracing over sketch in Procreate) and the painting starts.

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Art Drawing Faces Gouache Painting People Portrait

The Restaurant Critic

Restaurant Critic #2, Gouache, 10×7.5”

I saw a photo of this restaurant critic in Berkeleyside, an online local newspaper, and immediately wanted to paint him. I made several drawings, trying to get a likeness. And then I painted him twice. Above is the second painting; below is the first.

Restaurant Critic #1, Gouache, 10×7.5”

I think his expression shows my frustration rather than the serene smile you can see in the reference photo here. Below are the drawings, which maybe captured his expression better than the paintings.

My drawing practice had been left behind over the months I worked on an oil painting that I ultimately abandoned. I was rusty at both painting in gouache and drawing but you have to start where you are, so that’s what I did.

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Art Faces Gouache People Portrait Sktchy Sktchy Watercolor

Is She Sleepy, Bored or Annoyed?

Sleepy Asian Girl, Gouache on paper, 10 x 7 inches
Sleepy Asian Girl, Gouache on paper, 10 x 7 inches

This was one of those rare and wonderful painting experiences where the sketch (below) came together by magic, and I liked it enough to not even check it against the reference photo for accuracy. I didn’t care if it was perfect. The painting just flowed and it was super fun to see and paint all the different colors and textures.

Sleepy Asian Girl Sketch, 10x8 inches, graphite on Xerox paper
Sleepy Asian Girl Sketch, 10×8 inches, graphite on Xerox paper

I kept pondering her story while I worked on the portrait. I had all kinds of ideas but settled on a bone-tired factory or sewing shop worker. Then I did a Google image search of the reference photo (below), which was supplied by a Sktchy artist for her class demo and for us to paint from.

Reference photo

The image search took me down a looooong rabbit hole that led to a match for the photo. It turns out the model is a Japanese artist named Serena Motola. Maybe she was just bored and annoyed to be modeling when she wanted to be painting?

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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.