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Art Drawing Faces Gouache Painting Portrait Sktchy Sktchy

Librarian (?) in Gouache with Zorn Palette

Stacy D from Sktchy in Gouache using Zorn Palette, 10x7 inches
Stacy D from Sktchy in Gouache using Zorn Palette, 10×7 inches

I dramatically changed the setting of this portrait from a graffiti-covered wall (photo at bottom) to a library. There was something about her expression and clothing that made me think judgmental librarian, not the hip artist she appears to be in her photo feed on Sktchy. (Not that librarians can’t be hip artists! I was thinking of the mean school librarian who was always shushing us and glaring if we giggled.)

This was the last lesson in Mike Creighton’s Sktchy class on gouache portrait painting and color mixing. This lesson was about the Zorn palette: white, yellow ochre, cadmium red light and black. I’m really enjoying playing with limited palettes and discovering all the varieties of color possible with them.

In my initial sketch below, I hadn’t decided on the background yet.

Stacy D. from Sktchy, initial sketch on Xerox paper
Stacy D. from Sktchy, initial sketch on Xerox paper

When I decided to change the background from the wall in the reference photo below, to a library I did a quick internet search and found the photo below, right, which I used as inspiration.

Reference photo of Stacy D from Sktchy
Reference photo of Stacy D from Sktchy
Internet photo for library photo reference
Internet photo for library photo reference
Categories
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.

Categories
Art Art theory Faces Gouache People Portrait Sktchy

Complimentary: All the Colors in Just Two

América GS from Sktchy in just two colors, 10x8 inches on watercolor paper
América GS from Sktchy in just two colors, 10×8 inches on watercolor paper

In the past when I experimented with limited palettes and color schemes I missed the point. I thought the idea was to compose with just the chosen colors, rather than to discover how many different colors could be made by mixing them together. I hadn’t yet discovered the beauty of neutrals made by mixing two very different colors together. For this portrait, the challenge was to use complimentary colors (colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel).

I chose just two pigments: Winsor Newton Cobalt Turquoise Light and M. Graham Cadmium Red Light; basically a blue-green and a red-orange. I focused on making the lights cool and the shadows warm and was thrilled to discover the wonderful range of colors and neutrals I could make with just these two pigments and white.

First pass with color

Of course the colors are nothing like the actual colors in the reference photo (below), another photo I wouldn’t have chosen to paint myself, which removed the investment to capture it perfectly.

Reference photo of America S from Sktchy
Categories
Art Art theory Drawing Gouache Painting People Portrait Sktchy Sktchy

Alexander’s Analogous Bathroom Selfie in Lavender

Alexander H from his bathroom selfie on Sktchy, 8x8" on watercolor paper
Alexander H from his bathroom selfie on Sktchy, 9×8″ on watercolor paper

Analogous colors sit beside each other on the color wheel. For this gouache experiment with analogous colors, I chose Dioxazine Purple, Quinacridone Magenta, and Pyrole Red; basically a violet, a red-violet and a red. Plus white of course. My favorite gouache paints are M. Graham, especially their white, which is so wonderfully creamy.

Normally when I paint I try to match the colors I see, so painting with arbitrary colors is a very different approach for me, one that requires focusing more on value and warm/cool relationships. There was no way I’d get “normal” skin colors with this combo of colors. Below is my original sketch on Xerox paper which I then transferred to watercolor paper.

Initial sketch
Initial sketch

One funny thing about this Sktchy gouache class is that the teacher seems to pick reference photos of people I never would have chosen. The photo reference for this lesson: a guy seemingly looking in his bathroom mirror when he woke up in the morning. It didn’t inspire me, but maybe the combination of a non-interesting photo and the experiment with color took the pressure off so I could just play. I had so much fun with this one!

Photo reference from Sktchy
Photo reference from Sktchy
Categories
Art Gouache Portrait

A Beauty and a Gloomy Gouache

Olivia McRae in gouache, 10×8 inches

I had so much fun with the painting above and was really happy how it turned out. I’m (slowly) working my way through the Sktchy “30 Faces in 30 Days” gouache and watercolor class, though at the rate I’m going it’s probably going to take me 300 days, not 30 to finish it.

For the painting above, I followed along with Cecile Yadro’s demo. Her style felt very congruent to the way I like to work. You can see the reference photo for this painting on Sktchy here and download Cecile’s free gouache ebook here.

Although it wasn’t mentioned in her lesson, I was especially happy about how I was able to maintain the (high key) value structure while varying the colors and color temperatures within her face, something that clicked for me for the first time.

On the other hand, the next lesson was by Russian artist Nicolai Gánichev and his approach, techniques and final painting didn’t appeal to me at all (see his painting below).

Painting by Nicolai Gánichev 
Photo Reference from lesson

There seems to be a trend in contemporary art of destructing portraits, smearing paint across the subjects face or wiping off their eyes or mouth. Are the artists just bored with their facility in making portraits and have to show their contempt for skill or for the subject? I don’t get it. Also, the reference photo seemed dark and gloomy to me. I tried it anyway.

My sketch
First painting attempt, ugly and gloomy

I sketched her on Xerox paper and then transferred the drawing to watercolor paper. I tried following along with Nicolai but disliked his process so went off on my own. I ended up hating my first painting (above) so I transferred the drawing again, lightened the photo and discovered she actually might have red hair. I wasn’t having fun so I gave up after the second attempt below and moved on.

My final, still unpleasant, attempt at painting her