This portrait of Pulcherie was so fun to sketch! According to her Sktchy profile, she is a French artist living in China. You can see the original photo reference on Sktchy here.
It’s always such a gift when a drawing just goes well! I was able to do this one in a couple of hours while listening to Barack Obama’s latest (audio) book that he narrates. I never noticed before that he had a slight lisp but I’m sure I’m hearing one on the S-sounds when he reads aloud from his book.
This was one of those paintings that just flowed and was fun from beginning to end. I started with a drawing in pencil (below) on Arches Oil paper and then applied a layer of Golden GAC 100 acrylic sealant over the sketch to make the surface less absorbent and more slippery.
My goal for this painting was to stop as soon as the painting said what I wanted to say and before things got over-worked, overly perfected and I’m pleased to say that’s exactly what I did. Sure, there are many things that could be better but I like it just the way it is.
The images below show the steps in the process, from the graphite drawing, to an umber underpainting, to the block-in and final layer of paint.
I really tried to focus on two things with this portrait, getting the drawing right and keeping the gouache colors light (gouache dries darker). For once I managed to keep a tilted head tilted in my drawing–for some reason my brain always wants to make everything upright and symmetrical. It doesn’t surprise me since I learned that the image that comes in from our eyes is upside down and it’s our brains that convert it to right-side up. My brain definitely has a mind of its own…oh wait a minute–it is my mind!
Below is the original pencil drawing over which I painted the gouache. I wish I could show you the photo I worked from, but I think those are only meant to be visible to members of Julia Kay’s Portrait Party, which you can apply to join on Flickr and play too, if you want to.
I sketched Stuart (from the Julia Kay Portrait Party) and painted him in gouache. I’m still struggling with mixing colors to dry light enough. In this sketch I started by painting the light on the side of his face and leaving it alone. That seems to be a good way to proceed since painting light over dark doesn’t work seem to work that well for me. I’m so enjoying painting and drawing people. I got too many layers of paint on his hand and arm so I gave up trying to get it right. I know the hand looks like a slab of mystery meat with no bones in it but oh well. It’s always about getting the drawing right first, which I didn’t do with the hands. I also apparently need to use less pink/red in flesh mixtures to avoid getting this icky pinky-grey color.
When I learned that Julia Kay’s Portrait Party (Facebook) (Flickr) was coming to SF in March for a weekend of live portrait party events I signed up. My goal for 2015 is to develop my portrait drawing and painting skills and this seemed a perfect way to get started, along with the excellent 4-hour figure/portrait drawing/painting class I’m taking at my local community college.
Since I’ve been experimenting and teaching myself to paint with gouache (more about that soon, with reviews of paint and brushes for gouache). I thought it would be a perfect medium for my first Portrait Party attempt. One thing that I know about gouache but am not yet accustomed to, is that it dries significantly darker than it looks on the palette (unlike watercolor which dries lighter). That explains the very vibrant tones in the portrait above compared to the original photo (which I don’t have permission to post here)! Below is the original sketch that I painted over in my X-large Watercolor Moleskine.