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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 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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Drawing Faces People Portrait Sktchy Sktchy

Rainbow Hair and a Pretty Pointy Profile Pic

Ioana F from Sktchy, pencil and colored pencil, 10x8 inches
Ioana F from Sktchy, pencil and colored pencil, 10×8 inches

I was inspired to sketch Ioana because of her brilliant hair color (see her photo on Sktchy here) and because a dear friend had to shave her head while undergoing chemo and I was looking for photos of beautiful bald women to share with her. (Ioana also posted photos of herself with a shaved head on Sktchy.) Maybe when my friend finishes her treatment and her hair grows back she’ll dye it shades of pink and orange to celebrate.

Profile sketch from internet photo, pencil, 10x8 inches
Profile sketch from internet photo, pencil, 10×8 inches

This sketch was done to practice profile drawing which I find difficult. She has such an unusual facial structure as you can see in the photo below, but somehow looks beautiful despite the pointy chin and long nose and big ears. She looks nervous about it all in my sketch.

Reference photo from somewhere on the internet
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Art Drawing Faces People Portrait Sktchy

Aleksandra Again and Again

Aleksandra Final Pencil Sketch
Aleksandra Final Sketch, pencil, 10×8″

I worked on making a portrait of Aleksandra over and over for a couple of months (see the terrible work below). I finally surrendered and chose a different photo of her. The drawing above went smoothly and I did it in one afternoon. (Sktchy photo reference for above sketch.)

What originally inspired me to paint her was the bright yellow-green background in this Sktchy photo. But I learned the hard way that selfies shot close up distort the features and shape of the face.

Our eyes and brains automatically correct for things like photo distortion and lighting, but trying to draw exactly what is there from a distorted photo doesn’t work unless you’re ok with a distorted drawing. Sometimes that can make for a fun caricature, but in this case I was trying to capture a complimentary likeness of a pretty woman.

Below are some of the failed attempts. The first colored image is an oil painting with about 15 layers of failed attempts beneath the final failed attempt. The second colored image is a gouache painting that I put too much paint on, tried to wash some off, then gave up because the sketchbook paper was ruined.

Last six attempts including a failed oil painting (top row) and gouache (bottom row).

Below are the really terrible initial drawings.

Early attempts, some with imposed corrections
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Art Drawing Faces Sktchy

Sketch of Zoey K.

Zoey K from Sktchy. Graphite on copy paper. 8 x 8 inches.

My pencil drawing can’t do justice to her bright red hair (see her photo on Sktchy here) but I’m still limiting myself to pencil to improve my portrait drawing skills.

I’m trying to work out how to address the distortion that is in almost every selfie because of the wide angle lens held close to the face. Perhaps the best solution is to just go with it and not worry about realism. Maybe everyone is used to seeing each other via selfies and that’s what we think people look like now anyway?