Friday, November 19, 2021

"Happy Days" (watercolor on paper; 8" x 10")


"Happy Days" (watercolor, 8" x 10")

I decided to blog about my online Zoom classes with the Art League in Alexandria, VA. This is what we did in the ninth week of the fall term, 2021 in my "Watercolor Portraits" class.

The lesson was about painting a double portrait. I chose a reference I took when my daughter was nine. As a matter of fact, it dates from the same day in August, 2007 as the reference for "Sabrina in the Breeze". In Napa, California it was. We were attending a family wedding and decided to make a vacation out of it. We drove around in the area, soaking in the brilliant Californian light. I have created many paintings from the trip, partly thanks to the excellent light and partly because of the happy memories. I even titled the double portrait "Happy Days"

The first decision I made was to make the small background shape mid-tone instead of dark as in the reference. In a photo when something is in direct sunlight, it sometimes gets bleached out to a pure white, which you don't see in person. So I gave my daughter's pink bucket hat a very pale Winsor lemon wash, then even glazed it with pale permanent rose. 

I've noticed how cool the skin tones were in the reference, because the faces were in shadow. So, instead of cadmium red, which is my go-to red for skin tones, I used, for the most part, permanent rose, Sennelier helios purple, Holbein madder brown, permanent alizarin crimson, and quinacridone magenta. I used cadmium red and a little Winsor lemon in the initial wash in the highlight areas. 

 My daughter's right-side cheek, although in shadow, is influenced by the reflected light of her white shirt. So I introduced a little cobalt turquoise light (Winsor Newton), my go-to color to imitate the sky reflected in the skin. There are a lot of blues because of the sunny outdoors lighting. Cobalt blue was used liberally (I made sure not to use French ultramarine blue this time unlike with "Sabrina in the Breeze"). Comparing the skin tones of the two related portraits, I regret using cadmium red and ultramarine blue in my daughter's portrait. You see, we learn through our mistakes!

For my daughter's white shirt, I used cobalt turquoise light, cobalt blue and ultramarine blue to create folds.

Thank you for reading my blog. If you are interested in taking my online watercolor portrait class, the registration for the winter term is now open. Click here for the information.

"Happy Days" Reference

"Sabrina in the Breeze" (watercolor, 10" x 8")

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