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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

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 Gouache Painting People Portrait Sktchy Sktchy

Mystery Girl Detective in Purple

Kate K. from Sktchy, gouache on paper, 8.5 x 7 inches
Kate K. from Sktchy, gouache on paper, 8.5 x 7 inches

While I worked on the sketch for this painting I listened to a mystery audiobook with a female detective so when it came time to do the painting, I decided to make her a detective in a dark subway or tunnel. Using a limited, complimentary palette of mostly purple and yellow (because of her hair, see reference photo below) I put her in a purple trench coat.

Kate K. from Sktchy reference photo
Kate K. from Sktchy reference photo

The teacher for this lesson on Sktchy Art School is a big fan of patterned backgrounds, as you can see in this link to her painting. She used “Acryla Gouache” in her demo, which I have tried and don’t like. It’s basically just opaque and matte acrylic, not “real” gouache in my opinion.

Initial sketch for painting of Kate K.
Initial sketch for painting of Kate K.

In the sketch above you can see that I indicated the divisions between the shadows and light areas. I’m trying to focus on keeping my value families separated, keeping the darks together separately from the lights family.